I recently read this article about how the incredibly popular blog Humans of New York (HONY) became the success that it is today. I was inspired by the courage and commitment of Brandon Stanton, creator of the blog, to leave the career that he knew, and dedicate the next stage of his life to “to snap 10,000 portraits of everyday people.” “Instead of updating my resume and looking for a similar job, I decided to forget about money and have a go at something I truly enjoyed,” he stated.
Stanton describes the early days of his blog as really tough and “lonely, as hell.” It was only a year into him taking thousands and thousands of pictures, everyday, nonstop, before his blog got any attention. What kept him going? “I was obsessed,” Stanton says. I just thought HONY was such a cool idea and I just knew there had to be a way to make it work. The only time I was happy was when I was photographing. It’s when I stopped that I got sad.”
Currently the HONY blog has over 17 million followers. Over time Stanton perfected the art of making random strangers feel comfortable opening up to him in a short period of time. He reasons that although he is not the best journalist of all time, he “might be just about the best in the world at stopping random people on the street and getting them to let me take their photograph.” The way he figured this out “was just by doing it 10,000 times and getting beaten down, beaten down, beaten down, beaten down.”
Here are the following lessons we can glean from Stanton’s example for how we, too, can create success for ourselves, be it in our career or business ideas, and even our relationships.
Lesson #1: Dare to Dream.
Create a vision that is your own. Dare to go out of your comfort zone and step out of what you think is expected of you. When thinking about your career or life direction, instead of thinking about what already exists, ask yourself what you would like to create and see for yourself, for others, for the world.
Lesson #2: Stay Obsessed & Focus on the Process.
As the story of the HONY blog illustrates, you will likely not see the fruits of your labor right away. In fact, it can take many many months for you to see any results of all of your efforts. This is true for when you are starting your own business, looking for a job, or even finding a life partner. The process may feel like a grueling one when you are only focused on the end-result. Instead focus on the process and be committed to that consistently, day in, day out.
Lesson #3: Make the Process Something that You Enjoy Doing.
Being successful at anything requires commitment. It is not easy to stay motivated unless you ultimately enjoy what you are doing. Instead of thinking about what others may have done to reach their success, pick those things that you enjoy doing and that will keep you motivated and inspired throughout your process to reach your own success. My philosophy here at Unleashing U!, and in my life, in general, is that “we are successful at what we do when we are authentic to who you are.” Doing those things that you enjoy doing at that are authentic to you, will keep you happy and motivated to stay committed to the necessary process.
Lesson #4: Surround Yourself with People Who Believe in You.
Stanton mentioned how lonely it was for him the first many months after launching his dream to take 10,000 portraits of everyday people. It does not have to be that way. I encourage you to seek out those people in your life who believe in you; who love and accept you for you who you are; and who will encourage and support you through your process to fulfilling your own dreams. It is difficult to launch any new idea or venture; to stay encouraged while looking for a job; or to stay hopeful when on the journey to finding and choosing your life partner. Having the support of those who believe in you by your side, will help you get through the challenging and stressful times that come along with the process. Get to know what kind of support you require during your process and what kind of people you want to surround yourself with to keep you encouraged and motivated.
Lesson #5: When You Fall, Get Up and Keep Going.
In your process to success, you will get beaten down. You may even get beaten down more than once. Use these beat-downs (those times when you fall and mess up or get rejected and dumped) as opportunities for learning and growth. You will learn more from your mistakes and failures than you will learn from your successes. Your failures will hurt more, but when you know how to look at them objectively you will know how to glean the most valuable lessons that you require to be the best at whatever it is you are committed to doing.
What other lessons might you add from the story about how HONY became the popular blog that it is?
Please share your ideas in the comments below or email at Jenny@unleashingu.com if you would like to share it with me privately.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
In support and admiration,