I sat in the parking lot on a lunch break, desperate to have an ordinary, personal, non-Food-Manager thought or interruption.
I swore to myself as a teen, that I'd not become a discontented "30-something". I'd met many in what had, at that point, become my own 16 years. As a grocery bagger/bottle-boy (yes, humans used to sort those empty drink containers while adding up your Oregon-required bottle refunds), the PIC's (person in charge) all looked stressed and unhappy. They gave me no impression that they aspired to be doing what they did for a living, and now here I sat - stressed, unhappy, and feeling a wealth of resentment in my future if I don't make a change.
The only laughter I witnessed, was typically at the tasteless expense of current news or judgement of a coworker. I struggled to even smirk, knowing that once I turned around, I'd be the likely butt of the next joke.
WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
A career counselor (grad-school mentor of my former spouse) gave me some very indirect inspiration. After evaluating my Myers-Briggs, (personality inventory) she said: "You're at the top of your game with what you are doing. You're resume doesn't align with anything else in the classifieds, it seems like a good idea to pursue your career in retail"
I've got my blog settings set to "all ages" so I won't type what I screamed in my car after parting from her office. "FFFFFFinaly, the motivation that I was waiting for!" This was the second Myers-Briggs I'd taken, and both times I scored INFP off-the-chart!.. My job, though I was performing well, was entirely in alignment with the complete opposite inventory of ESTJ. (If that makes no sense - learn more here)
How could I align with the marks of a healer, when I was in so much internal pain? How did I push so far up stream, when all I really wanted to do was to earn more money, to buy more camera gear, to make money with my seemingly innate gift of photography. AHHHHHHH!!! (hear loud, scream-of-frustration)
If there's one thing I've learned in this first half of my life, it's that my story is our story. That there is NOTHING I have experienced on my own, that is completely unrelated to a simultaneous experience.
I was paying for someone to give me an answer that I held for myself. That inner Knowing drive that said "this is what I am to do", but it was unsubstantiated by any external measures. I'd not made a single dime at photography since I was earning $100 per week for the 40+ hours I was investing into study with an AMAZING portrait artist in Pendleton.
My mentor Louis M. Ver Baere told me at 19, all that I really needed to know in order to succeed. While I was busy seeking approval from others in all that I did, I was poising myself for some future passive-aggression. I was so great at withholding my opinion, that it would come out in little rants while we discussed life.
At the end of my verbal rationale over a given situation, he'd simply point his finger up in the air, while stating "You're alright, it's the whole world that's wrong!" His smile alone would pop my bubble, and I'd blow him off as just trying to make me smile.
How little I knew then, how absolutely right he was. Not just for me, but for you - for all of us. WE ARE ALL, ALRIGHT! We may differ, we may suffer, we may feud and we may blame. We may fail, we may give up or we may slowly kill ourselves with our own lack of accountability.
I gave power to a counselor to tell me what and who I am. A person that I met with for the sum of 50 minutes, handing me an option in exchange for a check. What she gave me was the burning question that drove me to create this site. Why am I here?..
I had not grown frustrated enough with my prior career to focus on the gifts in my frustration.
I had not considered WHY I did so well in retail, frequently promoted and transferred for exceeding goals.
I had not pondered my frequent rearrangements of stock rooms to maximize labor efficiencies. Something I'd done since I was 16 years old, making lists of shelf needs for pop, beer and milk.
I wanted SO badly to get out, that I was creating the most efficient ways to do it. In the midst of appearing to be an anal-retentive industrial engineer, hell-bent on shortcuts that didn't jeopardize my integrity or service levels.
I must have logged more than 40,000 hours, simply looking for a quicker way out. Based on the research of New Your Times Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, mastery occurs at 10,000 hours of applying yourself to something. I must now be an organizational GURU!
I took the reigns, I held myself responsible to make something happen, and I cashed in my 401K to form Prints Charming Photography in 1996. At 31 years old, a systems junkie with a Vision that didn't care about the statistical failure rate of portrait photographers, I began my next quest for Mastery.
My first four years, I worked graveyard, often times under the direction of people who I was once training - and I didn't care. I busted my butt to get home for my two-hour nap, so that I could be ready for my new primary focus (no pun intended) as photographer.
Between the enthusiasm-induced adrenalin and caffeine, I was able to return to my midnight shifts with a second two-hour nap before stocking shelves to keep my family fed, clothed and insured until I escaped. Mr. Gladwell would look at this story and say, "Of course that took you four years of dual careers Brian - you needed to log 10,000 hours as a photographer first!" (10,000 hrs, divided by 48-hour weeks as photographer = 4 years)
As sure as he writes in his book "Outliers", I look back to make sense of my past. I needed an excess of organization, to align myself in the best position to become 100% vested in my company's profit-sharing, to gain all of the sales and operations tools to simplify my future career in a left-brain industry.
Failure was NOT an option. Now in my 15th year of full-time work as a creative, I have this growing sense that the writing I was doing along the way might also be in excess of 10,000 hours. It is time for me to share.
Today is the birth of "Brian's Log of Gratitude".
Today is the day that I fully immerse myself in organizing all of my systems in such a way that I can share them with others. We are on a collective journey, and I'd be remiss in my human responsibilities if I did not share all that I've attained success with.
I invite you to add comments so that I know I'm not talking to myself.
I'll work to keep them around 500 words, vs. this double-dose for my inaugural post.
If you're looking for photo tips - feel free to check out the Prints Charming Blog, since I do personally write for both of them. The camera, after all, is my frame-of-reference to many of the metaphors you will find here.
I'm here to help you discover your purpose, and help you organize your way to it. It can be done, with what you have from where you are! I've logged more than 10,000 hours on the doubting side of that notion, and I've found my way beyond it, where I can now breathe well, and at 50 years old FEEL like I am 20 years younger than I was in 1996, gasping for air in the parking lot of my prior life.
CLASSES COMING - if you want to learn more, please share what this article has prompted that might help get you closer to your dream. I intend to read and reply to all posts.
Gratefully in service!
Brian Geraths (garretts)