I have lists of things I need to do.... and they never seem to get any smaller.
Jotted down in my diary, on bits of paper, on my phone and in my head - a flurry of ideas, concepts and must do jobs.
I don't have time to make new years resolutions that I know will, with the best will in the world, get added to the bottom of one of those lists and never make the top - but at the end of last year I started hearing two words a lot - Accountability and Validation.
"Accountable - required or expected to justify accounts or decisions".
Being self-employed accountability is maybe one of the areas I struggle with most. From time management through to paperwork it can all be a little " I'll do that next". But when I sat down and thought about the word, it is more than that.
I am accountable for my business, how people view my brand, the service I offer them, how they feel about that service and do they feel they had value for their money, and then that money word just throws up a whole tangled web of self-doubt, which leads nicely onto the second word.
"Validate - check or prove the validity of ".
The question was now how to tackle these two words. I'm not one for drawing out processes if it needs doing lets be getting on with it. So I formed a plan. As a member of the Guild of Photographers, last year my goal was to enter their monthly competition for a year - and I did. At times it was a struggle and the old creative processes dried up a litter mid way through, but with help from other members I made it. And along that road, people talked about becoming a Qualified Member.
I looked into what was required to achieve my "Qualified" status. 21 Images to be judged by a panel - sounds simple eh ?... Hmmm I have enough issues picking 12 images for our calendars let alone 21 that require judging and so the folder on my desktop, set up to collect those images, remained empty.
Then in January I had a get together with a fellow guild member, and the spark was re-ignited. I booked a mentoring session and submitted my 21 images for discussion.
WOW... that was an eye opener - never having been able to take critique any other way but "personally" I knew that I was going to have to accept and learn and stay quiet !! - that it isn't personal but a tool to grow and improve and stretch and create - it was incredible. I found it liberating, exhilarating and most of all completely un-offensive !!!! I put the phone down feeling brave and submitted my 21 images for judging.
The following week and an email from The Guild with the incredible news that I had Qualified - and with that one word came "Validation" that I was not so bad at what I do and a feeling of achievement and pride in what I had produced.
So now to hold myself accountable - this isn't something that can be fixed overnight - it is something that must become a way of life, that comes as second nature and by keeping with the mentoring and striving for the next level of Craftsman, I become "accountable" for improving the standard of my work. By joining with other photographers and sharing our knowledge I become "accountable" for my thoughts and ideas and by making myself visible I make myself accountable to my customers.
So 2018 - lets get rocking and rolling there is a lot of work needs doing.
P.S - The Guild awards were early in February and I am delighted to say that I achieved their Photographers Bar -
"Becoming a member of the Photographer's Bar is a unique distinction awarded to those photographers who have had images assessed by the Guild via the Image of the Month competition over the course of a competition year, attaining a score the equivalent of a point for each entry made.
In other words any member who can secure 24 points in one section of the Photography of the Year Title chases from 24 images in any 8 months of the same competition year will be awarded honorary life membership of the 'Photographer's Bar' in order to acknowledge the fact they have submitted strong images consistently throughout the year in competition judged in accordance with national scoring criteria - a distinction that is very difficult to achieve!!