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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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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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Connect: A marriage retreat for photographers.

A few years ago, Kia and I had the privilege to participate in the ONE Conference hosted by Jeff and Julia Woods. It happened to be the last of these conferences (I’m sure our presentation had NOTHING to do with it <gulp>).

While at Imaging USA, I learned that this torch has been picked up by Zach and Jody Gray.

Connect Marriage Conference sponsored by Zach and Jody Gray

While I don’t know much about the conference, I think it’s a great concept. I can’t be there, but if you can I encourage you to check it out.

You can read all the details on the Connect website, but here is some general info -

Speakers Include:

Dates:

  • April 29 – May 2.

Location:

  • Rome, Georgia.

Cost:

Not cheap, but includes everything for these 3 days (I’ll let you satisfy your own curiosity).

FYI – I get nothing for this post. I won’t even be at the conference, however,  I do absolutely believe in the purpose of the conference – bringing married photography partners closer together. Take a moment…check it out!

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It’s okay. You’re not alone. (revisited)

One year ago…

Last year, I wrote a post with the same title. It came after a road trip Kia and I took with our family. On the way to and from visiting my dad in Florida (from KC), we visited photographers from all over.

As we talked with these people the common thread we heard was CHANGE. Most everyone (photographer and non-photographer) was walking through some sort of change. Big and small. Massively consequential and of minor consequence. Everyone was experiencing change.

We weren’t alone.

Fast Forward 12 months.

Last month, Kia and I took another trip – this time to attend and speak at Imaging USA in Atlanta, Georgia. We had a great time! We spoke at a pre-conference class to over 40 photographers about the senior portrait world. We spent time with old friends. We made a ton of new friends. It was a blast!

The Atlanta skyline during Imaging USA 2013

For me, the best things we were able to do was listen. We listened to stories – your stories. We heard your fears and failures. We heard your excitement and triumphs. We heard where you are, where you’ve been and where you are going.

There again seems to be a common theme running through our lives. I have a hard time putting it into words, so the best way I can phrase it is with this word:

SQUEEZE

Dreams, hopes, fears, goals, plans, lives, businesses, families – these are all being squeezed. And let me tell you, it hurts. It’s painful. It’s not fun.

I’ll also tell you it’s okay. Truly, it will be alright. Here are 3 reasons why the squeeze you feel is okay.

1. Squeeze refines us.

The squeeze or crush you are experiencing will make you better.

It will make you better at your art. It will make you better in your relationships. It will make you better in your business. No matter where you end up, you will be better when the squeeze lets up.

2. Squeeze changes us.

When we are squeezed we can’t help but be changed. Hopefully the change will be for the better (refining) and not for the worse. No matter which way you go, squeeze will change you, and the reason we are being squeezed is because we absolutely need it.

3. You’re not alone.

People just like you, all over the country are experiencing the same thing as you. The best part of this squeeze is the result of the pain you feel. Hope.

It’s what I heard talking to those coming to the end of this tunnel. They see hope, joy and beauty. Oddly enough, it’s not a picture they even could dream of just months before.

Keep pushing. A breakthrough is near.

One of my favorite books and authors from the past couple of years is Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. I’ve quoted it here often. Pressfield challenges, encourages and dares us to push through the resistance we feel in our art.

The same can be said for what we experience in life. Keep pushing, your breakthrough is so close.

I promise.

You’re not alone.

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