Thirty years ago, on a warm, sunny, early summer morning, everything changed in 1/125 of a second. Until that moment, a holiday snapshot was just that: a snapshot. I was a practitioner, learning by doing, gathering experience slowly.
The latent image would lurk undeveloped for weeks until I could access a darkroom and develop the picture. At first look, each image slipped between my fingers, and then I saw it. I knew I had something special.
That moment, 30 years ago, was when I realised I could be good at this photography game, and I set out to push myself further, ultimately seeking mastery.
Making intentional choices.
Over time, I narrowed my field of view, bringing into focus the types of photography I loved the most. I was good at nature but poor at portraits. I liked natural light outside, not studio lights or indoors. I made choices. Landscapes became my joy, and then, as my experience progressed, I dug deeper, making images that tell a story. The story of our world, its beauty, and sometimes its loss.
Mentored by Masters.
As my expertise developed, I brought in other expert and master photographers to support my development. I felt I was becoming an expert in my work, but to make better images, I needed to work with the masters of the art I was seeking. One such master is Charlie Waite. I snapped it up when I saw Charlie offering a day of his time. We had a fun day, visiting many locations, seeing the world through a Master’s eye, and being guided.
The idea of exhibiting my work came up in a conversation that day. Charlie clarified why that was an essential step on my journey of mastery. I was hooked when he described a way to do it that was achievable and would help others by raising money for my favourite charities.
I’m aiming to have the exhibition towards the end of next year. I’ll use the time between then and now to make more compelling and high-quality imagery.
As part of celebrating the turning of another year, I will spend my birthday back in Paris, close to where it all started. Full circle and a chance to make another image of where it all began.
The pursuit of mastery never ends during a lifetime, but achieving its elements moves things forward and leaves a wake.
Host: Paddy Dhanda
Learning has become a superpower in the modern world we live in. But learning at a deep level is something that is extremely challenging. In this episode we explore the topic of Intentional Mastery and why it matters.
Key topics covered in this episode:
👉🏽 What does Mastery mean, and why does it matter?
👉🏽 Can you fast-track Mastery? Are there shortcuts?
👉🏽 What are the common strategic mistakes?
Have you ever heard of the photographer’s golden hour? It’s that magical time of day when the light is just right for capturing stunning photos. In my photographic work, I seek it out.
As a small business owner, I’ve realised we all have golden hours too. It’s that time when we’re most productive, and our talents genuinely shine.
The Importance of Finding Your Golden Hour
For me, I have a golden hour in the morning. I love the focus I can bring to my work on the business early in the day. During this time, I find that my mind is at its most creative, and I can generate new ideas, and it’s a good time for me to write. Working with clients is different. I must reflect on their opportunities and challenges and draw on my experiences. My best time for mentoring work is around the middle of the day. The key is to identify your golden hour(s) and to structure your day around it as much as possible.
Structuring Your Day Around Your Golden Hour
Notice when your work is at its best and feels easiest in the flow. That’s likely to be your golden hour for that kind of work. Then we can design our days to match. If your golden hour is early in the morning, try to wake up a little earlier to use that time before the day starts. If your golden hour is later, try to wrap up any likely distractions beforehand to have an uninterrupted work time at the best moment.
By structuring your day around your golden hour, you’ll find that you’re more productive and can accomplish more in less time. It’s part of having a more strategic focus on the design of your business. You’ll also feel more fulfilled in your work because you’re working during a time when you’re at your best.
I block time for creative work in the mornings a couple of days a week, whilst clients prefer the middle of days in the middle of the week. That design matches when I am at my best and provides a means of being strategic about timings whilst retaining flexibility and opportunity for serendipity.
When you are more conscious of your golden hour(s), you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish!
Mentoring relationships are an essential part of personal and professional growth. A mentor can offer valuable guidance, support, and advice to help you achieve your goals. I wrote “What is a business mentor?” and “Are you ready to work with a mentor?” recently which address how to start your work with a new mentor. However, there comes a point when it may be time to stop working with a mentor. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding whether to move on.
The Journey of Mastery
The journey of mastery takes you through several stages(*), from explorer to novice, practitioner, expert, and finally, master. Each step requires different support to make the transition – knowledge, skills, experience and finally, insight.
How Long Should You Work with a Mentor?
How long you need to work with a mentor depends on what stage of the journey you are currently on and the stage your mentor is at. Mentors can share their knowledge and skills, but if your business has already embedded the knowledge and learned the skills it needs (at that point, you are a practitioner), this support will no longer be valuable. Expert mentors can also bring the benefit of their experience, but the time will come when your own experience is sufficient for the level of expertise you seek. No mentor can lift you beyond their level.
Signs That It May Be Time to Move On
Several signs suggest it may be time to stop working with a mentor. One of the most important is when you have reached the same level of expertise that your mentor can offer. Move on if you are no longer learning new things from your mentor. Another sign is when your goals and objectives no longer align with your mentor’s. If you are no longer working towards the same goals, move on. In both cases, it’s time to find a new mentor who can better support your current objectives.
How to End a Mentoring Relationship
Ending a mentoring relationship can be difficult. That is because you will have shared many personal experiences with your mentor, your confidant; it can feel emotional to end the arrangement. Of course, it is essential to do so respectfully and professionally. Scheduling a time to meet with your mentor, ideally face to face, to discuss your decision. Be honest and direct about your reasons for wanting to end the relationship. Thank your mentor for their time and support, because in many ways the only reason you can, and must, move on is because they have achieved your objective.
Mentoring relationships can be precious but are not meant to last forever. Knowing when to stop working with a mentor is an integral part of the mentoring process. By considering your goals and objectives and your mentor’s level of expertise, you can make an informed decision about when it is time to move on.
(*) There is more detail about the stages of the journey of mastery in Intentional Mastery; Step beyond your expertise and build better business, by William Buist and it is available here…
As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running a business and lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why it’s essential to take time for yourself to recharge and refocus. For me, that day is Friday.
What does “my day” mean?
On Fridays, I don’t work in the business. Instead, I focus on myself and take the time to recharge, review, reflect, and redefine what I do and what is important. It’s a chance to step back and look at the big picture, evaluate my progress, and make plans for the future.
Using the time effectively.
I make the most of my Fridays by spending time in nature, walking and taking photographs. Being outdoors and exercising helps me clear my head and reduce stress. It’s incredible how much more focused I feel after spending some time in nature. I can bring that energy and flow to my work and deliver more, more quickly because I have taken that time.
I also practice reflectiveness and do more mindful activities on Fridays. Mindfulness can take many forms, from meditation, even just taking a few deep breaths, to spending time alone reflecting on the week and life. I find that this helps me stay centred and focused on my purpose.
Is it important?
As small business owners, we pour so much of ourselves into our work. It’s easy to neglect our own needs and well-being in the process. But the truth is, taking care of yourself is essential to taking care of your business. I believe this strongly and devoted a significant chapter of my book “Intentional Mastery” to it.
By taking time for myself on Fridays, I’m able to return to work on Monday feeling refreshed and motivated. I’ve found that I’m more productive and efficient during the week because I’ve had the chance to step back and evaluate my progress. It’s also helped me maintain a work-life balance, which is essential for my overall well-being.
Can you afford the time?
Now, I know what you might be thinking. “I don’t have time for a whole day off every week!” But here’s the thing: taking time for yourself doesn’t have to mean taking a whole day off. It can be as simple as dedicating a few hours to your favorite hobby or taking a long walk during your lunch break. Although I aim to take every Friday off, there are always some Fridays when I choose to work or where it is needed. Perhaps I’ll find another day that week, perhaps not; that is just a choice.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of running a small business, I encourage you to make one day a week, perhaps Friday, your day. Find what works for you: spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or indulging in your favourite hobby. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it can make. Remember, taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your business.
Will you give it a try? Make one day a week your day and see what a difference it can make in your life and business.