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A new beginning…and the end is near.

by Andy Bondurant

The end is here.

The Collective run by Andy Bondurant has come to a close. I’m moving on to new and different challenges that I’m truly excited about.

To read more on the details of what exactly I mean, please check out my brand new site – AndyBondurant.com and specifically THIS post. There you will find some of the best from The Collective, plus new articles and thoughts from myself.

I know some of you have found a lot of pleasure and interest from this site, so I would love to offer it to someone who might be interested in taking up the reigns. I know that doesn’t make much business sense, but I don’t know that this site is really about being a business right now.

What's Next

In closing, I would like to thanks some people…

  1. My wife. She’s been more than supportive during this entire endeavor. Kia, I love you :)
  2. My contributors. I would need to check to get a final count, but I’m guessing well over 30 different people contributed articles and possibly hundreds submitted images for contests. Thank you.
  3. The readers. During the peak, several hundred of you were reading this site every day. That was really cool. Thank you.

A Final List

One of the things I loved writing was list posts, so let me end this post and this blog with a final list. Here are three things I learned from starting, running and writing The Collective (by no means an exhaustive list).

1. Passion is so overrated.

You can’t truly know what you are passionate about until you dive into something you think you love.

For example…writing or photography. You may think you are passionate about something, but when it comes down to doing it for more than just fun is when you really learn how passionate you are.

Are you willing to work hard…get up early…stay up late…for weeks on end? That’s when you figure out how passionate you are about something. Do you step away from you “passion” and begin to miss it almost immediately. Do you stay away for even longer, but just can’t escape the pull it has on you and your life?

This is when you know something is more than just an interest.

It’s a passion.

2. Fear is an absolute beast.

One of the things I most appreciate about the past several years of creating The Collective is learning to push through my own apprehensions, fears and hang-ups.

If you allow it, fear will stop you from doing anything of real meaning and value.

If you are a creative, there is one book you must absolutely read – Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (4.99 Kindle version or 6.49 hardcover at Amazon). It will teach you to press through the fear.

3. Word of the Year.

Had I not written through my first year of my Word of the Year project, I never would have gotten the life changing benefit it brought me. Having to search my thoughts and feelings and then commit them to the world concretized FREEDOM and RISK in my life.

That alone may be the reason I was to start and run The Collective for 2 years.

The end.

It’s been a year+ long process of letting go of The Collective. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. But don’t be fooled, I am truly excited about where I am headed. If you want, take a moment to read about it at my current site if you are interested.

Blessings…

Andy

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It doesn’t have to make sense to be right.

Ol Righttt?

In November of 1972 Adriano Celentano and his wife Claudia Mori released a song called Prisencolinensinainciusol. It’s was a song released in Italy for an Italian market, but it was meant to sound American. It wasn’t just the music that sounded American, but the words sound English to the Italian listener too. To an American, however, the most understandable phrase is “Ol Right“.

It was an entire song of gibberish – it meant nothing. It was one of the top 2 of Celentano’s hits in his prodigious career (over 40 years in music and a list as long as your arm of albums released).

I never heard the song until an NPR interview with Celentano last November commemorating the 40th anniversary of the song. In the interview, he noted he was making a statement about the Italian music scene. Many artists were using English in their songs to simply sound American.

You don’t always have to make sense.

I recently happened to come across the above YouTube video again. As I watched, I thought about how meaningless the words were, yet how influential the song was to the audience.

Your dream, goal or decision won’t always make sense to those around you. Sometimes you have to just move forward knowing you are making the best decision for yourself, your business, your family. You do it because it’s right. It’s not about it making sense or being understandable. It’s about being right.

You have to be right.

Obviously you can’t consistently create products or decisions that make no sense, but that should be a secondary question. The primary question should be…

Is this right?

Once you answer that question, then move on make sense out of your decision. Here are 3 ways I make sure I’m right in the product and decisions I roll out.

1. I listen to myself.

Over the last couple of years, this is an important lesson I’ve learned (and re-learned). I need to stop, reflect and make sure I understand how I feel about a decision or product.

Again, I don’t need to even make sense to myself, but I need to feel right about it.

2. I listen to others.

After I know how I feel about a decision or product (even if I realize I’m still processing my thoughts) I want to get the advice of others. What do they think? How do they feel? Is it right to them?

If nothing else, this feedback gives me an idea of opposition I might face.

3. I move forward.

Depending on the situation, I might take a few other steps. I might wait a few days or hours. I might do some more research. However, I can’t allow myself to be stuck there.

I must make a decision and move forward. If I make a mistake, I admit it. If I need to adjust, I change direction or slow down. If I’m wrong, I apologize.

I can’t be stuck waiting to make sure I make sense to everyone. I need to make sure I feel it’s right.

What decision or product do you need to roll out because you know it’s right?

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Making History.

Catalyst Dallas 2013

Last week, I shared a post of my thoughts from Catalyst Dallas. In particular, I highlighted a session by Brenee Brown – a researcher and TED alumni with over 9 million views of her presentation.

Today, I want to share another presentation at Catalyst. Craig Groschele is the pastor of Life Church in Oklahoma City. Craig himself (from a remote distance) is an interesting guy – kind of the hard-nosed coach character from a 1980′s made for TV after school special. That said, he’s a great speaker on leadership.

He now has a book available called Altar Ego. You can also find a podcast on the subject at YouTube.

At Catalyst, Groschele focused on 4 phases we go through as leaders, but finished with what may be the most powerful concept of the conference.

Why do I exist?

Making History on the Photo-collective

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

He started the last 1/3 of his presentation by asking this question,

My life means nothing to me if only…

It’s the purpose question everyone asks at some point in their life. Groschele continued to share 3 levels we go through in answering that question.

1. Make a name.

Most people start here, and some (sadly) stay here. The person at this place says -

I’m good…anyone in my way is bad.

It’s the pre-2000′s business model. I will destroy anyone and everyone in my way. It’s all about making a name, dominating market share, putting our competition (and their friends) out of business.

I’m a proud supporter of the current “You are the brand” trend. Here’s the danger though – I can believe the lie that it truly is ALL about ME. There’s more, which leads to level 2…

2. Make a difference.

As some point (hopefully), I see that building me (whether me is a person or a business) bigger and bigger isn’t enough. I need to make a difference in the world around me. The person or business at this level says -

We’re good. Everyone in my field is bad.

At this stage you see businesses making subtle or straight-forward shots at their competition. In the photography realm, I see photographers (sometimes out of true concern for their clients) take shots at competition who they feel lacks artistic integrity.

Here’s the problem – it’s a no win situation. The organization is not good enough to make a lasting difference. Most of us become stuck here. We are constantly striving to become better to make a bigger difference, but there is more than just making a short-term (past this generation) difference.

3. Make history.

This is it. What can I be a part of that will more than make a name for myself or make a difference for a while, but it will truly change the world for generations to come. Moving to this level means we say -

Only one is good. Only one is an enemy.

Groschele, coming from a Christian perspective, says only God is good and only Satan is truly an enemy. If you come from a different background, you might label these differently, but the concept is the same. We’re not fighting for me or my organization, and we’re not fighting against a human foe. We’re fighting for true good, and we’re fighting against true evil.

Bill Gates initially set out to make a name for himself, but quickly began to make a difference through his business Microsoft. Gates truly has made a difference in our world by building better computer software, but chances are this difference won’t last much past the generation we are living in. My grandchildren won’t be interested much in Microsoft (my children may not).

However, through The Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, he is making history. He’s creating something that has the potential to change not just this generation, but generations to come.

Where are you?

Looking over the past couple of years, I see myself desiring to move from stage 2 to stage 3. I clearly remember sitting by the public pool last summer, watching my kids, thinking, “There is something more for me.” Though I’ve been actively working to make a difference in people’s lives for a large part of my life, I know I am made for something more.

You are too. Are you ready to move to the next level?

I don’t know exactly how to get there, but I know it starts by being intentional. It starts by consciously noting there is something more…and I want it.

Why do you exist?
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More.

We dream too small.

Let me rephrase that.

I dream too small.

I’m part of a larger group of people who think too much like me. The truth is, it’s kind of scary to think and dream big. When we dream big we can’t see the end of the tunnel if we think it all the way through. We don’t know where the end of the dream is.

  • What are the consequences?
  • Do I really want what comes with that dream?
  • Will I be able to do what it is I want?

In the end, it’s that freaking giant that looms over me, taunts me, and tells me I’m a sham. FEAR.

Fear tells me I can’t possibly do all that’s in my heart, so to be practical. Fear tells me that being real is being smart. Fear tells me that safety is smart. Fear tells me big dreams are too much of a risk.

More.

I don’t dream big enough, and as a Christian I don’t ask God for big enough requests. God wants more. He wants more from me. He wants more for me.

Transformation.

My word for 2013 is TRANSFORMATION. 2012 was RISK. 2011 was FREEDOM.

It’s funny to me how all of this is cyclical. A big take away for 2011 was to live intentionally is the best way to be free. To live intentionally, you have to take some risks. You have to live by faith – you can’t always see the clear outline of the next 10 steps…sometimes you can’t see the next step – you just have to take it blind.

A lesson I’m learning about transformation is I need to ask for more. I need to dream bigger. There is something beyond what I can actually see. Safe isn’t enough.

Random.

Yeah, this is kind of random. It’s helped me though. It’s helped me start again. It’s helped me put something out there again. It’s helped me – as Seth Godin would say – “ship”.

There’s something more.

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Are you in the middle of the GRIND?

Growing your business, art & life is a GRIND!

As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we spend so much of our time keeping up. We focus on the next task. We attempt to keep our heads above water. And this is just our business life!

Throw in improving our craft – photography, art, writing. Pile on top of this the rest of our lives – kids, house, hobbies, etc, etc, etc.

Living life is so much bigger than the daily world we are in, but we are in danger of missing it. We can’t see the forest through the trees.

Life quickly becomes a GRIND. Yes, even when you work for yourself, life can be a grind!

image from flickr user gak

Photo Credit: gak via Compfight cc

Here’s how to step back.

This is the question that keeps me up at night, “How do I step back from the daily ‘grind’?”

There are different ways and steps to escape the grind, but here is a great way I heard…

Create a Personal Board of Directors

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast from the Harvard Business Review (HBR). They interviewed Priscilla Claman, the author of an article on the topic – Forget Mentors: Employ a Personal Board of Directors.

It’s a great idea because no one person has it all figured out. Some people are financial or business experts, but they may not be interpersonal or spiritual experts.

Here’s the point.

It doesn’t matter whether your board of directors is 1, 3, 5 or 10. What matters is you have a person or set of people you can turn to for advice. It’s vital you have someone you can ask questions. But you also want someone who can challenge you. By the nature of this relationship, you give them the right to ask you hard questions.

These hard questions will force you to look up, look around, and get your bearings. Then you will have someone give you great advice on what you see.

My personal board of directors

As I listened to the podcast, I asked myself the question, “Who is on my personal board of directors?”

I quickly came up with 8 different people who have directly influenced my life. These are people I turn to for advice about specific or general issues. To be clear, I haven’t specifically had conversations with this group about being on my board of directors. I know when I have a question about something in their area, I can ask. I also know they can ask me hard questions that will cause me to reflect on my business, art or life.

  • Mike Hanline – building and maintaining a successful (family) business.
  • Don Lewis – building my personal, family and spiritual life.
  • Sarah Petty + Erin Verbeck – online marketing and sales.
  • Todd Antisdel - personal interaction and in person sales.
  • Nancy Nardi + Ken Kneringer – SEO, WordPress and social media concepts.
  • David Jones - building my personal and spiritual life.

Also note, these people are ones I can meet and talk with personally. I can pick up the phone, call them and have a conversation about pretty much anything.

There is another group of people who I read and listen to. These people influence the same and other areas of my life too. I won’t list them here, because while they deeply influence my life, they don’t have personal interaction with me. I will share this list of people in the near future.

Who is on your board of directors?

My challenge to you, create a list of your own personal board of directors.

Who can you personally turn to for advice and information? Who can you give the right to challenge you with hard questions?

It’s very likely you already have this board of directors so make a list. Then the next time you need perspective – a look up – you’ll know who to turn to.

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