Success | A reflection on life and business

suc·cess /səkˈses/

Noun:   1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

2. The attainment of popularity or profit.

I often get asked this question: "How's business going?".  What do they mean?  Are they asking if I'm swamped with clients?  Do they want to know if I'm making it big as a photographer? Or, are they just making conversation?  I don't really know, so I usually sheepishly reply ''s going'.  It drives my husband crazy that I always answer that way, but I'm almost always caught off-guard when asked and unsure of how to answer.  So I started thinking after the topic came up at dinner with friends the other night, and I answered in my typical fashion.  The honest answer right now is that business is slow.  Now, that could be because it's January, people just unloaded their bank accounts on buying Christmas gifts, the world outside is brown and leafless, it's cold, etc. But since I'm being honest, I kind of like it this way.  I have time to think, to play, to dream, to plan.  I like the slow-paced life and the ability to breath freely without the pressures of deadlines, uploading photo galleries, ordering products.  So then, why do I always shy away from that inevitable question "How is business going"?

I think it might be because I've been living under the definition of success that you see above.  Now, "the accomplishment of an aim or purpose" part, I'm okay with.  It's the second one that kind of bums me out.  In the age where everyone is keeping tabs of how many Facebook "likes", Twitter followers and blog subscribers they have, the "popularity" part is literally in our faces and in our hands at all times.  It makes me a little crazy.  There is a feeling, myself included, that if no one is talking to or about you that means no one likes you, appreciates your work or who you are.  And while the "profit" part is sort of key to running a sustainable business, it can be a bit of a let-down too.

In light of all this, I'm taking a look at my life and re-defining success.  I began by making a short list of my roles, the major parts I play in my home and in the world.

  • Worshipper of Jesus Christ

  • Wife

  • Mother

  • Friend and Family member

  • Photographer

  • Business owner

Since business owner is last on that list, I thought I should inventory the other roles first and ask some questions.

  • Worshipper of Jesus: Am I actively seeking an obedient, humble, awe-filled, loving walk with my Savior.  Am I worshipping Him for who he is?  Am I making much of Him in all that I say and do?

  • Wife: Am I giving my husband the love, honor and respect that he both deserves, and I am commanded to by the Lord?  Am I giving him devotion and attention?

  • Mother: Am I demonstrating well for them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  Am I making sure their basic needs are taken care of?

  • Friend and Family Member: Am I taking time to love and pour into others?

  • Photographer: Am I seeing and capturing images in a way that properly reflect the creativity of God and the creative abilities that he has given me?  Is photography a worshipful experience for me?

Even though I can't with all honestly give a resounding "YES" to all of those at all times, I can to the majority or at least say I'm making a valiant effort at them.  Lastly:

  • Business Owner: Am I dealing fairly and honestly with my clients?  Am I being obedient to the laws that the government has set in regards to running a business?

The answer to that is "yes" as well.

And you know what?  For now, I'm pretty content with being "successful" at the top 5 things on my list. Though I'm still not sure how I'll answer the next time someone asks how business is going, at least I'll know that my definition of success is based on much more than being popular or profitable.