We remember it well. All too well, in fact. The soggy sandwiches. The coffee that went cold. The smell of post-recess sweat. A stack of ungraded math tests. An inbox full of parent emails. Oh, we remember.
Because it hurt.
It hurt because we were still working a day job while we watched other photographers live their out dream.
We sat behind a desk while we watched other photographers working at home in pajamas or jet set across the country and around the world. Because they weren’t constrained by someone else’s schedule. They made their own hours.
We wanted that, too.
And, at times, we slipped into believing the lie that success is for some chosen, select, pre-determined few.
The lie that there’d never be enough room for two more photographers in Phoenix, or even two more photography teachers online.
The lie that our career and life had a concrete ceiling while others’ was an open limitless sky of possibilities.
We were beginning to believe lies.
Until we found people who believed… in us.
We found mentors and teachers, workshops and speakers, friends and people we barely knew (or didn’t know at all!) who’d been there, were doing that, and wanted to help others do it, too. They were giving. They were generous.
And they made us believe that success wasn’t just for the chosen few.
It’s for those who choose.
We stopped believing lies and started believing the truth: Making our dreams come true would be hard. It would take real sacrifice. It would take grit. It would take everything we had (and then some). But we had to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and start taking action to win to truly be successful. No matter how far back we felt like we started, or how far ahead “everyone else” seemed, we had to be willing to work harder and longer to catch up.
So, we put a plan into place. We read business books. Lots of them. We watched TED talks. We asked for wisdom and counsel and guidance from anyone and everyone we thought could help us. Sometimes the advice was good. Sometimes, it wasn’t. Sometimes we could implement it right away, and other times it made sense with time.
But the key to being successful was to re-train ourselves as “wisdom seekers.” To stop talking about ourselves, because as one man put it, “Me, me, me is dull, dull, dull.” And start asking other people about THEMselves. Their life, their experiences. Sometimes the advice didn’t help or just wasn’t good. But sometimes it was GOLD. And mining for intellectual gold is the same as mining for real gold: the nugget makes sifting through the sand entirely worth it.
We scrapped and fought to pursue our dream. We even cried sometimes. We did everything in our power to love people well. We worked as hard as we could. We refused to accept the idea that we were powerless, and always stayed mindful that we couldn’t do anything on our power alone.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been full time for five years. Five years since our last soggy sandwich. Five years since our last recess break. Five years since we graded our last math test.
Five years since we turned off the classroom lights for the last time.
And five years since we stopped being afraid to fly.
Those high end brides we once thought would never book with us? We have the pleasure and privilege of serving them.
Those mid-week conferences we thought we’d never be able to attend? We teach at them now.
We don’t share that because we think we’re awesome, because we KNOW we really ain’t that great. God is.
We just want to be an encouragement to you, especially if you feel right now how we used to feel back then. If you don’t think you’ll ever be able to do what you know in your heart you were meant to do. Or if you’ve believed the lie that we did that there’s not another seat at the table for you.
We promise there is.
Because success isn’t for the chosen few. It’s for those who choose. And if two elementary school teachers with a dream can turn it into a reality with a lot of heart and a lot of hustle, we know you can too. So whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever voice in your head is holding you back, give that doubt a high five… with a chair… in the face… and take the first step toward your future TODAY.
It will be hard.
It will take time.
The best things in life do.
So just know that you have two people, in us, who’ve been in your shoes, who understand, who are here to help and who are cheering for you and pulling for you every step of the way.