I only had my father for ten years of my life before he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Those of you who have been friends over the years here know about this part of my life. Ten years is an extremely short time for any person, but those years were filled with a handful of extremely valuable and memorable life lessons. One of which I value the most as I have walked this life as an entrepreneur. A lesson from my father in taking risks.
My father’s education was complete after high school. He didn’t go to college let alone graduate, he didn’t go on for several more years of studying and achieving additional diplomas and he didn’t obtain a “masters” in anything. What he lacked in formal education, he made up for in talent, common sense, in honest hard work, in resourcefulness and in true grit. A pool cleaning business was handed over to him which he built into a pool construction company after taking ownership and built it to be a rather successful one here in the Phoenix valley. He didn’t study landscape design or have a background that would have given him this knowledge, but he created some of the most beautiful designs and backyards I had ever seen. He was an artist in his own right.
In his earlier days and when he had saved enough money, he found himself at a local Harley Davidson shop to purchase his first motorcycle. Unbeknownst to the salesman, my father had never driven one before. After signing his name on the dotted line he was handed the keys, hopped on his new purchase… and then crashed it into the wall of the dealership. I’m sure my father hated anytime that story came up because it wasn’t his most glorious of moments. However, he knew what he wanted and the fact that he didn’t have experience or knowledge wasn’t going to stop him. After that incident, he continued on and ended up racing motor cross. I remember as a very young girl admiring his shelves of trophies in our garage. There had to be what seemed like a hundred. A couple of years later when we were moving into our new home and packing up the current one, I remember seeing him throw many of those trophies in the trash. I asked him why he would ever do that and he replied, “they take up too much space and they aren’t important to me anymore because I have you, your sister and your mother”.
It wasn’t until years later after that I would hear the story of him crashing that Harley into the wall of the dealership and, while I remember him being sheepish about it as we listened to my mother re-tell it, I wish he knew how much I would treasure it later in my adult life.
My education was complete after high school. I didn’t go to college let alone graduate, I didn’t go on for several more years of studying and achieve additional diplomas and I didn’t obtain a “masters” in anything. Much like my father, what I lack in formal education, I make up for in talent, common sense, in honest hard work, in resourcefulness and in true grit.
I was not formally trained in photography, but I have shot commercial campaigns for large brands such as PetSmart. They day I walked onto their set, I can honestly say I had no clue what I was doing and worried if I had enough memory cards on hand to handle the entire day of production. Come to find out and those who are in the commercial photography industry will know this, that you shoot tethered and all of your imagery uploads directly to the on-site tech system for immediate review. I shot my first wedding with a Canon Rebel and didn’t have the money to upgrade for well over a year. I didn’t study design, but I have worked with handfuls and handfuls of businesses in building their brands. I had never had experience in packaging design, but I pitched a brand early last year, created the design for the labels and packaging and now you see it at your local craft stores. I didn’t graduate college with a business degree, but I have managed to figure out how to run one.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been stumbles all along the way. Some pretty big and rather embarrassing. Some a bit smaller, but still tough to take. Lots of scrapes and bruises. But if I wasn’t willing to trust my gut and the talents I already possess, I would have never been able to experience life as I know it now. Myself and my husband working for ourselves and having the flexibility of more time with our growing family. This is not to say that it is glamorous in any way. We have one car, we shop sales as often as we can and there is always more month at the end of the money. And building both our businesses while raising kids has been the hardest work we have ever experienced. It’s a season and we are growing and patience has been a learned art form around here. However, each and every win is that much sweeter. Each and every project or client booked means that much more. And I wouldn’t trade that feeling for a single thing. Crashes and all.
I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t wait for your list of credentials to be the thing that proves your worth in what you want to do. Trust your gut, take the leap and find out for yourself. You can never prepare fully for anything because you don’t know what lies down the road ahead of you. I can guarantee there will be falls. I can guarantee there will be crashes and there will be days that you go to bed wondering what the hell have you gotten yourself into. But you dust yourself off, you keep learning and you keep going. Because what you are accomplishing is so much better of a story than anything you were going to tell from waiting and wondering what could happen. And you will learn far more and far faster than the person who chose not to jump. And you’ll have the battle scars to gloat about. And friends, from my experience, there is nothing sweeter.