Today on an assignment, I had a chance to hear David Shenk talk about practicing your craft to succeed. Shenk, author of the new book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, talked about cellist Yo Yo Ma, and his path to success. The importance of the 10,000 hour rule should not be under-estimated, but Shenk had more to say.
Shenk talked about the notion of practicing with an intent to push yourself to the point of failure so that you can embrace and learn from failure, and what it feels like. Further, you can press on, and perhaps not fail at the same point, the next day, or the next day after that. Eventually, much like the pre-concieved notion that no human could run a mile in under four minutes (here) you can break through and past failures, to succeed like no one else has before.
So, just when you think that you have practiced you craft (whether lighting, negotiating, framing an image, and so on) hard enough, press on. Know that there are other photographers out there, pressing on, again, and again, and again. When you're practicing push, push, push. That said, when it's show time (on an assignment for example) is not the time to push to the point where you fail in your deliverable. However, once you've got the deliverables you promised in the bag, there's nothing that says you can't take some additional time to do something even more fabulous than you had previously produced, and maybe blow the client out of the water.
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