Don't swim with sharks
Recently I was asked to help judge a photography competition. Not just a local church hall type photography comp, but a national one, along with a big camera manufacturer sponsor.
I love taking photos - on a camera or mainly on my phone. I like seeing things differently. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I’ve been involved in the photography industry for about 20 years, in various sales/PR and marketing ways. I am privileged to know some amazing international professional photographers, journalists and have worked with global camera brands both internally and also as a freelancer.
My gut reaction on being asked to join the judging panel was an overwhelming and instant yes. It was only after I’d sent my email that I began to listen to my inner critic. The voice told me clearly and concisely that I wasn’t qualified. I'm not a professional photographer and I'm thoroughly inexperienced in this field. I would look foolish and embarrassed myself and therefore just stick to what you know.
After moving away from my keyboard for a bit and making a cup of tea I realised that I had been asked to do this job by someone who I trusted and who in turn had put their trust in me. I was being asked to do something because they absolutely believed that I could do it. It wasn’t a favour. It wasn’t to flatter me. In return, by listening to my gut and pushing myself out of my comfort zone I now feel excited. It’s a positive forward step. It’s having the confidence to allow myself the thrill of something new.
It is very easy to be at the mercy of over-thinking. Once that process starts it rarely has a positive outcome. It’s natural and human nature to protect ourselves from things (whatever they may be) which our brains may believe us to think will not serve us well. But, I’m a huge believer in listening to your gut instinct and acting upon it super quickly.
Be open to suggestions and new opportunities by saying yes. You’re being asked because your opinion and input has a real value. Your voice has value. Next time, say yes. Unless it’s to swimming with sharks or something daft like that. You may lack confidence but you’re not an idiot.