Success Mapping

“Failure” is a good thing. Don’t think so?

Let’s do an activity called Success Mapping together.

Step 1: Make a list of failures and mistakes that you’ve experienced in your work and career.
Step 2: Make another list of successes and things that you’ve done well in your work and career.
Step 3: Next, look at both lists and see if there are connections between “the failures” list and “the success list”. Draw a physical line or make note of connections between the two lists.

Success Mapping Examples

I found these connections from my my Failures and Successes lists:

On my “Failure” List: Starting my first YouTube channel in 2015, publishing recipe videos every single week for two years, following everything “the YouTube gurus” talked about but never gaining subscribers or any traction.

On my “Success” List: Creating The Bite Shot on YouTube in 2017 as a way to help local food bloggers how to shoot their camera in manual mode, which enabled me to connect with you and a group of awesome people excited to talk about food photography.

The connection between them: The “failure” channel taught me the fundamentals of how to record and edit videos. It also created an opportunity for me to practice being in front of the camera and feeling comfortable talking in videos.

It was also on that first channel that I created a photography tutorial which ended up being one of the most popular videos on that channel. It was the cumulative effect of these experiences that cleared the path to creating The Bite Shot and building something I’m supremely proud of.

Another example

On my “Failure” List: Showing up on set to shoot my first cookbook and not knowing how to truly control lighting. I knew how to work with the window in my spare bedroom, but in a new environment I was out of my element. The shoot was in a challenging space, I didn’t know how to work with flash, and I didn’t have the knowledge at the time to make the best of a difficult situation. The photos were not my best work and at the end of that shoot I felt so embarrassed and swore I’d never shoot another cookbook again.

On my “Success List: Creating a course all about lighting for food photography (Artificial Academy) and getting to teach people all over the world how to control their lighting.

Also on the success list, having shot a bunch of awesome cookbooks (and my own book!) with images I proudly display on the walls of my studio and in my portfolio.

The connection between them: Though I felt defeated at the time of that first cookbook shoot, it was fuel and motivation for me to get serious about learning lighting. Of course, being that I am a teacher at heart, I couldn’t keep this knowledge to myself. It was obvious to me that I needed to teach this skill to my fellow food photographers in hopes that they could avoid that same feeling of being out of control on a photoshoot.

Also, through learning lighting, I was able to get excited about future cookbook opportunities that came up and confidently take them on knowing I was up to the challenge.

Reframing Failures

So with that in mind, I hesitate to call the first list “failures” because that word is loaded with so much negative emotion. If you take the time to process this activity, you’ll find that the failures are a vital part of any success.

This is further reinforced by popular success stories.

The recent HBO Max documentary on pro skateboarder Tony Hawk shows him working on a move hundreds of times, falling time and again until he nailed it. One of the skateboarding contemporaries interviewed in the show talked about Tony’s superpower being his ability to fail fast and then deliberately internalize what he had learned at lightning speed.

You can’t arrive at success without learning and the best learning comes from moments when things don’t go the way we planned.

Here at The Bite Shot, as a business, we’re on a quest to uncover failures quickly, and embrace and celebrate them. Each failure is a gift toward improvement! But, instead of calling them failures, we call them “how fascinatings” inspired by one of our favorite books, The Art of Possibility.

The author shares that when things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t ascribe blame or shame. Instead, get excited about having made a discovery in your journey and say, “how fascinating!” Then take that “how fascinating” moment and find a way to improve, do better next time, learn a new method, and seek input from trusted advisors.

“How fascinatings” are a part of the map to your future successes.

Failure + Learning = FaiLearning.

Remember, if you’re not making a mess, you’re not doing it right. ❤️

Hi, I’m Joanie!

Founder of The Bite Shot, commercial food photographer, published author, and educator. I specialize in breaking down challenging photography concepts into easy-to-consume educational content.

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