Don’t Waste Your Potential

Downtown LA, 2016
Downtown LA, 2016

You were put on this earth for a reason. You have a gift to share with the world. Whether that be your artistic skills, your interpersonal skills, or your idealism. Don’t hold back and waste your potential.

Don’t fear

You have a special gift and potential to change the world. You can do this with your photography, your writing, or your music. What holds you back from fulfilling your potential?

I think for a lot of people it is our fear that holds us back. The fear of being ridiculed. The fear of not becoming “successful.” The fear that we won’t live up to our own expectations.

But fuck that. Don’t let fear hold you back with its chains. Break free and dedicate your life to learning, expanding your knowledge, and sharing your passion with the rest of the world.

Don’t get distracted

Santa Cruz, 2016
Santa Cruz, 2016

Today we live in a world with abundance. Rates of violence and poverty are reducing. If you live in the west, you probably have access to the internet, you don’t worry about hunger, and you can live without fear of death.

However we are overwhelmed with distractions. Text messages, emails, social media. There are thousands of things out there vying for your attention. Advertisers trying to sell you stuff, marketers trying to breed dissatisfaction in your heart, and notifications on your smartphone telling you, “check me!”

The only way you can do meaningful work and expand your potential is to focus. Focus means to use all of your psychic energy and only do one thing at a time. It means to tune out distractions.

Personally if I need to focus, I turn off my smartphone, and only focus on the work at hand. For example, when I’m writing, I only write— I do nothing else. When I read, study, or do research— that is all I do.

For you too— do only one thing at a time. When you’re shooting, only shoot. Walk slowly, take in the surroundings all around you, and become one with the street. Constantly push and challenge yourself in your photography, and try to get into a “flow state” as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it (or the “zone” in popular culture). Don’t shoot what makes you bored. If you are bored with your photography, push yourself to make more complex, interesting, or layered images.

Become the best version of yourself

Your life is short and limited. Why waste your valuable time, attention, and money on distractions? Life is tough. But don’t waste your potential on watching TV, Netflix, or other passive forms of entertainment. Use your free and leisure time to create more art, to do more writing, more reading, more reflection. If you are an aspiring film director— perhaps watching TV will help inform you. But whatever you do, focus on personal growth.

Become the best version of yourself you possibly can. Don’t settle for second-best. And know that the only person you should compete with is yourself. Everyday aim to become 1% better than yesterday, and within a year, you will be amazed to see how much of your potential you can reach.

You got this.


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