The curse of competency

Jim Collins, author of the book ‘Good To Great’ said in the book,

‘Good is the enemy of great’,

What that means is that being good at something (or even recognising that you are good at something) you can fall into what he calls the curse of competency and once that happens, you may eliminate any hopes of becoming great. I try to think about that in relation to my photography and in my life in general. I have never been truly satisfied with my photography. Always thinking of doing something better. Always wishing I had done this angle and that angel. Always lamenting about the shot that got away or that I should have moved just a little bit to the left. A great example is my portrait shoot of Altin Tafilaj. I spent an afternoon at his place and took a series of portraits. When I got home and started post production work, the doubts and insecurities started to creep in. Arghhhh. I should have done this. I should have done that.

When I saw him the next day to show the pictures, he was extremely happy. I just had to open my mouth and express the same doubts that was haunting me the whole night. He took one look at me and said (in his thick Albanian accent’,

‘of course you could do better but that does not mean these pictures are not good. Be happy this time and do better next time’.

In an instant I realised how destructive things can be if you allow it to haunt you and how refreshing things actually are when you let go. That is mastery and that is how you grow.

The biggest lesson I got just from that moment was that even if I agree with the concept of ‘good is the enemy of great’ (which I do), I have to realise that maybe I can always be a better photographer and I should work on it but that does not mean that I am not producing great pictures already.

Take it as it comes. Be open and receptive. Correct but don’t invalidate. Develop some more compassion for myself. The magic will happen.

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