I turned 40 this week… and with that comes a lot of reflection. And truth be told: so far this upcoming decade looks to be PHENOMENAL.
Yet with that comes a little responsibility. At least in my opinion. So here goes:
There are a lot of readers of this blog. People of all ages, of all income types, and of all backgrounds and interests from all over the world.
To date, at least according to Google Analytics nearly 15,000,000 people have visited this blog. Let’s say even 10% of that is true:
To that end, I wanted to share only one thing I’ve learned, and it started with my job at The New York Times.
ALWAYS PLAY THE LONG GAME. NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS. IT WILL PAY OFF IN SPADES.
What I mean is, to be clear: I’ve been offered a lot of shortcuts along the way. And I’ll take any person up to task to take me up on the offer that I ever chose one over (what I least I perceived to be) the right thing to do…
And I think that’s important to hear … (ergo this post) and more importantly: to SAY.
Because this world has become all about shortcuts. About NOW.
An “Insta” something …
A “Let my BUY this NOW.” Let me learn this “NOW” and instantly “Master” it.
If you don’t see the thick irony of the guy that some others have termed “The Godfather of the HDSLR movement” (for better or for worse) telling you not to take shortcuts… well… think about it…
I used to worry that a light would fall on my head every time I stepped on a union set…
And then a very few short years later I became one of the guys complaining about “these young guys… yada yada yada..”
And this quickly taught me that the only constructive thing that I could possibly try to do, was to share an mentor any of those who wanted to listen to my gibberish… and that that was realistically the best thing I could TRY to do…
Well… 10,000 hours still applies no matter what anyone sells you on in my opinion, for what’s that worth.
The best – and clearly not the most efficient way – for you to learn, is by trial an error. Only then can you TRULY understand.
And that’s not to say that there isn’t incredible value in a good teacher that can save you a TON OF PAIN in trial and error… But they can’t replace the discipline that that pain & stubbornness (or stupidity?) causes you to adopt.
Far too many of us have seemed to have lost sight of the fact that anything we value, we value because of the hard work we put into it…
I hate to sound preachy, but anything you value, is because it’s something you had to fight for.
The single scariest thing about the trends I see happening today is that we’re entering an age of “Good Enough” and not a pursuit of excellence and a singular obsession with dreaming wild and crazy things…
Too many these days seem to be satisfied with what a close friend of mine would term as, in an ever eloquent economy of words as: “Meh.”
I simply have none of the answers to these big questions, but I can tell you that at least in my own eyes an in my 40 years on this earth here’s what I’ve learned and am willing to share (clearly only to my own detriment) :
1. The happiness of your children is the most important thing in life – if you have them. Then come the people around you, if you don’t have children.
2. The health and happiness of your family comes next. Truth be told: you don’t get to pick your family… just sayin’
3. Your friends and relationships w/ others in your personal and business life are some of the most important things you will ever have.
So with that said, if I could impart one of the single most important lessons I’ve learned in these 40 years:
It’s that during my formative years as a very lucky to be hired photojournalist at The New York Times, the most venerable Newspaper to be around (arguably I’m sure) took 100+ years to build up its reputation… is that despite then TENS OF THOUSANDS of dedicated journalists lives that it took to build up that Newspaper over DECADES… that reputation was DECIMATED by two journalist in 1-2 years who destroyed her trust… (do your own research) By their opting to take shortcuts…
And what I learned from them was: NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS…
Doesn’t take a genius now does it? … Garbage in.. Garbage out. Share something valuable… people will continue to listen. Again: FAR FROM ROCKET SCIENCE. The term “obvious” or “logical” comes to mind…
Take the long road… treat others as fairly as you can. ALWAYS CHOOSE THE DIFFICULT PATH – the “LONG GAME.” Even if you don’t, truly know why…
And, if I can be an example to a single one of you, I will say: playing the long game pays off in spades.
If not publicly, I can tell you it pays off professionally.
So for what’s that worth, as we all are offered new ways of cutting corners and getting “instant gratification” these days… I can share only one thing that may possibly of value to a few of you:
We only value the things we work hard for, and invest in… LONG TERM.
So with that said. I’m blessed to reach 40. To have two wonderful kids. And a family that’s despite its numerous best efforts is not completely screwed up just yet. And truth be told I truly appreciate everyone of you reading this blog.
Sincerely – Vincent Laforet
p.s.: if this gives a SINGLE one of you the inspiration to take the tougher path… rather than the shortcut… It will make all the grief I receive for writing this very, very worthwhile.