I AM GREATNESS
I’m a firm believer that, in the photography industry, we don’t see much greatness anymore. Certainly not as much as we should. At least not overall greatness. Greatness is not a label or badge we can choose to wear. It’s not at all what we say about ourselves. It’s what others say about us. Greatness is an emblem or crest that others pin on us. It’s usually some sort of distinction for mastery, virtuosity, proficiency, or flair. It’s fine to aspire to greatness. But photographic greatness can only be ascribed.
Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of greatness among photographers. And many great photographers. Especially if you limit your definition of greatness to an ascendancy and supremacy of mechanical and technical skills. Just look around. Technical greatness is on every corner.
But I’d like to broaden the definition of greatness. Greatness, in my world definition, is consistent, day-after-day, unapplauded leadership. Not follower-ship. Greatness in business is a flat out serving and satisfying customers. From the heart. Without guile. No fanfare. No noise. Simply quiet, remarkable servitude. This is true greatness.
Want to be great? Then serve, satisfy and lead customers. History will not remember your greatness through flamboyant acts of self-serving attention-getting. History will remember your greatness by serving colleagues and customers with authentic humble actions and attitudes.
This sort of greatness is truly the road less traveled. And the path we all need to aspire to.
It’s surprisingly easy to be recognized for your mechanics or your technical ability to master your craft. And exhibit a process of technical authority. But behind all this public attention you get for being a photographic wizard…what are you like on the inside? Are you as great on the inside as you are on the outside? Do you unselfishly serve others with the same bravado that you publicly trumpet your scientific and technological skills?
I’m privileged to know more than a few great photographers. Greatness is what I call them – not what they call themselves. I refer to their greatness as both outward and inward attributes and attitudes. These are photographers who have not only mastered their technical crafts, but have also mastered the powerful craft of dutiful devotion and service to others. This is greatness at its best. Outside and inside.
I don’t know about you but it seems to me that social media, in general, gives birth to a lot of one-sided greatness. We tend to publicly venerate, revere and hold in high regard those that talk a good game. But shouldn’t we equally honor, esteem, and respect those that walk the talk? Even if done so quietly and behind closed doors?
I think it’s better not to aspire to public greatness per se. Aspire instead to thankfully and humbly serve others. With transparency and gratefulness. Greatness will come. And it will be the sort of greatness you want to have attached to your name, rather than the superficial greatness you pin on yourself.
I’m not great because of who I think I am. Or what I say about myself. I am great only through the deserving appellations ascribed to me from others who I have dedicatedly and devotedly served. The first shall be last. And the last first. Be great through service.