The Biggest Risk of All…may be playing it safe
Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing that many of the issues that have plagued professional photographers for years have crept into more mainstream business life.
For example, I had a great conversation with Richard Kelly, an amazing photographer and past president of the American Society of Media Photographers, who observed that while the banks may have been to big to fail, most companies are now suffering from being “too small to fail”. In other words – they feel they can only pursue solutions with guaranteed results as their pockets aren’t deep enough to sustain any losses.
I realized that what Richard’s describing is a classic case of a cycle I’ve been teaching creators about for years:
You start out taking the risk of doing innovative, creative work because it’s interesting and exciting and you know that if you do what everyone else is doing you’ll never make your mark. Then one day, you achieve some level of success. All of sudden, that innovative, creative work you’ve been doing is in demand and you’re floating on air.
As you become more successful, though, you start to fear that if you change anything about what you’re doing (or how you’re doing it) your clients won’t like it. After all, this work you’ve been doing is responsible for your success and who knows how people will react to something different.
So you stick to what you know. You stick to what’s safe. And what happens? You lose those clients anyway.
Because in the meantime, you’ve become bored and your creative innovation has become stale and dated and there’s someone somewhere out there who’s doing work that’s interesting and exciting and innovative. Something you should be doing but aren’t ’cause you’re too busy playing safe.
As any creator who’s been around long enough knows, not taking risks may just be the biggest risk of all. In this tough economy, none of us can afford to fail so which are you going to pick? The road you know will ultimately lead to failure or the one that may not work at all but at least has a chance of getting you to the top again?