WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Tips & Tricks

The Single Biggest Reason You Are Failing | Slice of Pye

By Pye Jirsa on January 21st 2017

A Foreword:

Many of you know, I am and will forever be, a student of everything. I love, and I do mean 100% absolutely love learning; from audio books while driving, to in-person classes, to everything in-between. I study a lot within the realm of photography so outside of work I make it a point to focus my educational efforts on everything that isn’t photography.

I honestly believe that this passion for knowledge is what has helped me to get to where I am today. It is also the same process that has given me the ability to share and educate using frameworks and methods that people find easy to follow.

We have a lot of amazing education slated for SLR Lounge Premium in 2017, much of which is going to be relating to our business and non-photographic processes within Lin and Jirsa Photography. Since studying accounting and business in college, to working for Ernst & Young, to running our own companies for nearly 8 years, we’ve learned a lot. But, as I continually read and educate myself, I am always surprised by just how much I don’t know. What I know is a drop in a bucket compared to the vast ocean of what I don’t. Perhaps that is what has made me fall so deeply in love with learning and continual progression – it’s limitless.

Regardless, A Slice of Pye is a new article series that I am excited to bring to you all. It contains pieces of education and experience that is being built into our 2017 business content. This series will allow me to share with you my favorite books and educational content at present, while at the same time sharing with you my thoughts on past and present experiences in life and business.

While the topics in these articles may not be directly related to taking pictures, they will always be geared towards helping you be a better artist, business owner, and a happier person.

So, welcome to A Slice of Pye. I love comments, questions and feedback, so please comment below the article and I will do my best to read and respond to each one of you.



First, I know the title is bold. I know you may think of it as click bait, and perhaps it is. But look past it for just a moment.

As artists, creatives, business owners, or simply a person aspiring to be something more than we are at present, we often wonder why it is that we aren’t achieving our goals. There are a myriad of books, online articles, and social media posts that talk about “passion”, that you aren’t successful because you lack “passion”, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve said the same thing myself. To an extent, this phrase is true; we require passion to be successful. But it’s also an oversimplification because in the end, what the hell is passion? I am passionate about wanting to be a photographer; I am passionate about wanting to be a good father; I am passionate about wanting to be a business person and leader in my field, but is this “passion” all I need to be successful? Clearly not.

If passion was all that was needed then we would all be photographers, race car drivers, artists, musicians, actors, doctors, lawyers, etc. So why do so many of us that are clearly passionate about doing something fail so miserably?

I am currently reading a fantastic book called, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. As you can imagine, the book does start out with some colorful language, but, by chapter two Mark is making some effective points and the language does become less colorful (if that’s something that bothers you).

I don’t think I can say this any better than Mark, who, when talking about becoming a rock star said, that he loved the idea of standing on a stage being a performer, but he wasn’t willing to do what it took to get there. He states, “I was in love with the result… I wanted the result and not the process.” We fail miserably because our passion is misguided. We are all in love with the idea of doing something great, but we loathe the process required to become great.

The process of becoming great at any one particular thing requires that we put forth exceptional effort, fail and fall flat on our faces, pick ourselves up and then repeat the process indefinitely until the result is attained. Who would ever want that? I do, and you should too.

Reality check: It’s time to ask yourself what you are truly passionate about. Are you in love with the idea of being a photographer, or do you truly love the process that is becoming a photographer? Note the constant studying and research, test shoots, failure, high pressure situations, overcoming challenges, working within limits, etc.

Do you love the idea of owning your own photography studio, or do you truly love the process that is running a business? i.e. marketing, sales, accounting, meetings, taxes, human resources, hiring, firing, etc.

Let me give you a reality check I recently ran on myself. I love racing cars. I own a race car and I am an instructor in high performance driving. It would be the coolest thing in the world to be a professional race car driver, right up until the moment where I think about what it would take to achieve that goal. Because sitting in a race car for up to 8 hours a day practicing, being in long endurance races where you are cooped up in a cockpit peeing into a tube, studying race car physics and aerodynamics non-stop, crashing and potentially injuring or killing myself are all things that I am not willing to do. I am in love with the result, but I want to cry when I think about the process. I am happy to love racing and instructing as a hobby, but I would never consider it as a profession or my true “passion.”

The single biggest reason you are failing is because you aren’t being honest with yourself when it comes to what you are truly passionate about; the result or the process.

What are your thoughts?


This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Jiří Veselý

    Very goog article. I have found the book in my language on internet to buy, thanx very much.

    | |
  2. Randall Huleva

    You know Pye, this article is right on…although I would say that when we break this down to a specific pursuit or goal, we may be missing an even bigger truth. As a recovering co-dependent and former member of a twelve step group (yes, they even have one for co-dependents), we had a saying, that while not unique to recovery groups, is nevertheless very true – it is ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY – not the destination! Once we reach the goal, we need to set a new goal – and the pursuit starts anew! It is in the journey that we grow as individuals, couples, or businesses! Goals are great to keep us focused on the direction we are heading in, but once we get there we need a new destination to keep moving or growing. If today I am an amateur photographer with a goal of being a professional photographer, that’s a great goal. But once I am a professional, I need some new and more challenging goal or I will become stagnant and uninspired.. We are wired to constantly be evolving, growing, changing and improving. Creatives may have an easier time grasping this concept than someone who deals strictly in a tangible world where they can touch and feel their accomplishments. But it is important to all of us…and as creatives we can offer to help inspire others who may be struggling more with these ideas.

    | |
  3. Ed Jones

    hmmmm… for me, whilst I am passionate about 90% of what it takes to build a business in photography, and I am very focused on my end goal of where I want my business to be, I keep my passion for photography alive by setting lots of small intermediate goals. I set learning goals, I set business goals and celebrate the small wins that take me closer to the end goal… but is there an end goal? I think by having something in mind, but enjoying the small wins, I get to enjoy the journey and the small less fun bits get put in perspective and balanced out. 

    | |
  4. Gary Stafford

    As a photographer who has enjoyed a ten year career in my selected field I always find it odd when I’m told how lucky I am to do what I do. 

    And I do appreciate some of the jobs I get given are pretty amazing and I do have to pinch myself but most people haven’t seen the blood and tears that went into getting to this point. Like you say being the rock star on the stage is the goal but for most it doesn’t happen over night. For me it was endless hours trundling on motorways through the middle of the night, many weekends away from my family and friends to work in some far of location.

    Then there is all the financial costs in buying cameras, lenses, computers and accessories I’ve heard it’s easier than ever to break into photography as the cost barrier to entry is no longer there but that’s just not true. Sure you can buy a dslr with a kit lens to get started but it won’t help in the long run for a sustainable career of someone has made a career with a basic dslr and kit lens then I tip my hat off to you.

    As for passion I’ve never been passionate I enjoy what I do and I try to get better at what I shoot with every shoot to be one of the best out there which hopefully will sustain my career but passion I hear it said a lot and I think it’s far to easy for people to say they’re passionate about something almost lazy to say it.

    A very good article which I enjoyed reading immensely and I will look out for the book :-)

    | |
  5. Sherry Felix

    I love to do the work and try hard to market and follow all the suggestions but I get no where with it.

    | |
  6. Shaye Bomar

    This generation exaggerates everything. Everything is either “epic” or filled with “passion.” Everything is %&$#@ passion. But none of it is true. Passion is an intensity, not a real emotion. You can passionately happy or passionately hate something.  Most people aren’t passionate. They like what they do, but given the choice between doing what they say they’re passionate about and having a billion dollars so they can live without working, they’d choose the latter.  Do you need passion? No. Do you need to like what you do? You probably should. Do you need to be good at what you do? At least good. It is not about what you feel. Plenty of people work at things they don’t like doing, but they’re so good at it, their talents cannot be denied. I cannot wait for this word to fade into obscurity. People, especially marketers trying to get the almighty Millenial dollar, use it too much. Find another word.

    | |
    • andrew farrington

      Totally agree – the word passion comes from Latin passio, which meant suffering – as in the Passion of the Christ…today it means ‘hearting’ something lots….:(

      | |
  7. Dayle Clavin

    I agree totally with what you have presented here Pye and am glad to hear it again.For me the life of being a photographer is so enriching that I am willing to do the work to be able  to continue though I have to push myself in some areas of marketing and business .Photography is not my first profession.I was a classical flutist for 30 years and photography was my hobby and my second passion.Five years ago I started professionally as a wedding photographer. because I just wanted to have more time doing photography.The process has been enthralling and challenging and I love living this kind of life but I have always been aware of two aspects; you need to ” practice your scales and arpeggios daily,” camera or flute…repetition of the foundation …and you need to slow down and take time to think and digest the small steps that we sometimes disregard.

    So you have to love the process  much more than the result because all these tiny parts that you learn and practice add up to make a beautiful  whole.And then you can be happy about that too,but not exclusively.

    | |
  8. Jason Pierce-Williams

    Couldn’t agree more. As a photography trainer of some 7 years I find that as the technology of instant gratification improves with android phones particularly the problem gets worse. By problem I mean being in love with the idea of being a photographer but not willing to  put in the effort – sometimes and increasingly- not even appearing to be that interested in photography, period. I’ve been shooting 30 years and my passion for photography keeps me breathing. I quit training recently as I got too frustrated by the very worrying downturn in commitment to simply learning something new which has always excited me. Anyway…good article and I will check that book. My work is at if you’re interested. You may like the images taken on a 117 year old full plate camera. Thank you. Have a good one. Jason Pierce-Williams 

    | |
  9. Dawn Hensler

    Thank you for twisting the screws. The book sounds like an interesting start. I am a late starter in this gig but all I know is at the end of every shoot I have this inredible feeling inside. It’s like a high and I enjoy making people smile. Looking forward to more.

    | |
  10. Simone Trice

    This is just awesome! Really got be thinking and I definitely need to reevaluate somethings. 

    | |
  11. Talwin Davis

    Love this and you gave me a lot to ponder and reevaluate!! 

    | |
  12. David Byrd

    What a wonderful article and I think for many, this hits the nail on the head and shows the truth beneath the surface – in all aspects of life. Two cents to add and would like your perspective on this; for some, the passion may be in the creation and not the completion. In essence, how much can failure be linked to the simple idea that the journey transcends the joy of reaching the destination? You cite that many fear the commitment it takes to achieve the success, what if people are afraid of success and not the work it takes to reach it?

    I create a lot of great work (pats self on the back :) ) but I stutter in the next steps to get that work out there and hopefully have it lead me to financial success. I have passion, for creation and the hard work. I do NOT have passion for figuring out how to connect the dots that lead to dollars. Thoughts?

    | | Edited  
    • Pye Jirsa

      I think a lot of people can second this notion, in many regards. I love the process of cooking, but I have no desire to make money from it. Same with racing. These are creative outlets for me, but I don’t wish to turn them into professions.

      | |
  13. Nabeeha Qadri

    [Nabeeha Qadri has deleted this comment]

    | | Edited  
  14. Jay Cassario

    Absolutely love this, might be one of the best pieces I’ve read from you. It is something that I believe everyone should read, and read seriously, not just scroll through it. As for the book, ordering it now :)

    | |
  15. Marvin Blue

    Great read, I actually have this book on my list to read and I am looking forward to expanding my horizons. I can’t wait for my next slice of Pye!!

    | |
  16. Tanya Goodall Smith

    I’ve deleted the word “passion” from my vocabulary as far as my business and goals are concerned. Crimes of passion, passionate love affairs, etc are committed in the heat of the moment. Not premeditated or carefully planned out. Passion is fleeting. It’s not enough to keep you going toward a desired outcome. Especially when failure along the way is inevitable.

    | | Edited  
  17. Chad DiBlasio

    Great stuff man! I feel like my wife and I talk about this exact topic with people all the time – They want the “married 50 years” romantic life-story, but they lack the discipline or just sheer will to go thru the 49 years of figuring out life together. The hard work (and sometimes simple monotony) of day-to-day life gets in the way and so they assume they have the wrong ingredients (i.e. the wrong partner or job or house or whatever) rather than recognizing this is part of the process and it just takes work. Thanks for the writing and realizing we are SO much more than artists in photography! :)

    | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Agreed, this applies to every area of our life. Thanks for the comment Chad!

      | |
  18. Peter Rigo

    Great way of looking at success in life. When I started with photography, one photographer once told me: “I wish you all the best in journey becoming a photographer” This was said by a Ph.D. Student of Photography who has been shooting and studying photography for around 15 years. As years past and I got more involved in photography and read articles like this one I have flashbacks to that moment when I was told about the journey, which at first I didn’t believe in.

    You are right, most people (including me) think that you can learn photography and then just do it and be a happy artist. What they do not realize is that photography, itself, is a journey, not a destination. Therefore you need to be happy with the journey of becoming a better photographer.

    Moreover, this journey is also about giving up and losing a lot. Wish every decision that I have made toward photography I lost something. Rather its time, money or in some cases friends. Photography changes how you look at people and life altogether and not everybody is willing to travel with you down that path. This hard reality is also part of a journey, which not that many people understand.

    Thank you Pye, for sharing your thoughts and life with us all. I personally really appreciate all that you and your team have done for me and my journey. You guys are definitely making my journey easier then it would have been otherwise.

    | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Indeed, photography and virtually any arena is more of a journey than a destination. Love your comment. I think of fitness and sports the same way. There are always people that are so much further along the journey, and yet they are still pushing forward.

      | |
  19. Ralph Hightower

    Interesting! My vocation is computer programming; I create computer and web applications; I’ve been doing that since 1975. I enjoyed photography in high school using my parents’ Polaroid Land Camera. In 1980, I bought my first SLR, the Canon A-1, which I still use today; I bought a used Canon New F-1 and a 5D III in 2013.
    To me, photography is a creative release from work. However, creating computer applications is also a creative endeavor.

    | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Ralph, that’s what’s awesome about hobbies and interests. They should be a release, an opportunity to express ourselves. It’s when we confuse being in love with an idea vs being in love with a process that gets us in trouble.

      And coming from a computer nerd, I agree with you 100% that coding is just as creative as painting or capturing imagery.

      | |
  20. Guy Delarea

    great article!

    | |
  21. Jeremy Clark

    This is a great article Pye. Well said.

    | |
  22. Mircea Blanaru

    I am over 46 years old and what I have learned from my life is that the success depends of how many miserable compromises are you ready to do. More such compromises, more successful you are….

    | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Haha, while I don’t believe that they all have to be miserable, I do agree that it’s always going to be about how much “non-glamorous” work you are willing to take on.

      | |
  23. Lenzy Ruffin

    Why is this article credited to Kishore at the top and bottom?

    | |
  24. Edwin Effendi

    “Slice of Pye”… would you be happy if the “Pye” you make doesn’t taste good? No… You’d go back to the kitchen and start cooking again. Then maybe You would share those “Pye’s” with others… maybe open up a business chain to conquer the world. At the end of the day, does it matter if its only you who gets to enjoy it or the rest of the world? The thing that matters for us as a human being is that we build our life according to our hunger and greed. We are always in constant “dissatisfaction” which is why we are always making progress. And what you are happy with does not matter if its the result nor the process. It is us just being who we are… HUMANS.

    To me, PASSION is very closely related to GREED & CURIOSITY. We automatically fail when we “STOP” and fear of the UNKNOWN. We think we know everything, but theres always more.

    | | Edited  
    • Pye Jirsa

      Edwin, not sure I understand exactly your comment. Did you feel like the article wasn’t worth posting? I don’t know if I agree with passion being related to greed or curiosity. Perhaps you can explain a bit more.

      | |
    • Edwin Effendi

      Dear Pye, Wasn’t worth Posting? Very worth it. Greed and Curiosity may only come from my country Pye (Indonesia). But I see a lot of people are not Driven unless there is Greed or Curiosity here. I see a lot of success more towards the Greed side though.

      “He states, “I was in love with the result… I wanted the result and not the process.” We fail miserably because our passion is misguided. We are all in love with the idea of doing something great, but we loathe the process required to become great.”

      Here you mentioned this. I would probably call it “Get Rich Quick” which is why a lot of us aren’t successful because in reality we don’t see the quick $$ and then bail on the process all along. NOTE* We are under a very corrupt government rule so we are constantly fighting for our own self.

      “Reality check: It’s time to ask yourself what you are truly passionate about. Are you in love with the idea of being a photographer, or do you truly love the process that is becoming a photographer? Note the constant studying and research, test shoots, failure, high pressure situations, overcoming challenges, working within limits, etc.”

      Reality Check, what has driven me? Its curiosity. Hell I have probably made even more mistakes than you Pye! (And will be making more in the future i believe) .

      “The single biggest reason you are failing is because you aren’t being honest with yourself when it comes to what you are truly passionate about; the result or the process.

      What are your thoughts?”

      Honestly speaking I would say BOTH! Because just like cooking, theres always constant changes. I love the process and the result. Just like a camera… theres always an Edwin Mark i, Edwin Mark ii, and so forth.

      | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Ahhhh, gotcha now Edwin. Makes sense, I agree that those are often the initial and ongoing motivators (when they shouldn’t be, in the case of greed). Curiousity is a great initial motivator tho. Thanks for the clarification!

      | |
  25. Jeffrey House

    Pye, thanks for the great article. As a former golf pro and now, professional photographer for 5 years, I deeply appreciate and can relate to the importance of having passion for the process. Andy makes a great point in his comment – we are a society of instant gratification. I too love learning and I spend countless hours studying photography. I have such a desire to be great inside of me, but I admit, I’m not always patient about it. I want it so badly, most days I feel like I’m going to explode. In my experience, 99% of photographers talk about their passion, but that’s extremely subjective. Like anything we’re communicating to our clients, highlighting your passion is great if you can show them something tangible and different from everyone else. I look forward to future articles and can’t wait to see what’s next!

    | | Edited  
    • Pye Jirsa

      Golf, I used to golf in high school! Talk about a sport where you need to be passionate about the process. Spent so long practicing such small pieces of the game. Thank you for your comment!

      | |
  26. Christian Miguel

    In the oversaturated market that we are currently in today, “passion can only take you so far” speaks volume for the aspiring photographers/business owners like myself. This series could not have come at a more perfect time as I, myself, am at a crossroad in my photography carreer and journey. Can not wait to see how these series plays out!

    | |
  27. Andy Chang

    Great write-up! Goes well with that FB Live Pye and Shivani did a while back. Chase Jarvis and Simon Sinek also made YouTube videos recently on related topics. Passion is an obvious pre-req but “nobody cares.” You better be passionate about what you’re doing. I don’t think I’ve ever met a full-time photographer who hated photography like they hated their 9 to 5. The current challenge today is convincing clients to care that you’re passionate and pay you the money you deserve for it. It doesn’t help when attention spans are shrinking and people just want instant gratification now. You’re right, we want the end product but don’t want to endure the struggle to get there. We only share the good stuff about our lives and never the sucky parts that might actually detract people from embarking on these paths in their lives. I’m not sure there will ever be a solution to this issue since no career is ever going to advertise both the positive and negative aspects to newcomers.

    | |
    • Pye Jirsa

      Very true, nobody really talks about the good and the bad. For the business owner making good money, they generally want to dissuade others from competing. For the business owner struggling to make a living, they generally want to persuade clients/students to seeing how successful they are.

      It takes a lot of research, and often times trying it yourself to really discover it.

      Until their own self-interests are removed, it’s difficult to find people that are willing to speak openly about anything.

      | |
    • Andy Chang

      Good points. Some parents will never promote going into the arts because of the instability of pay and they will selectively not tell kids about the good parts since they think there are none. Parents only know of the good aspects of going to medical, law, and other professional schools. Without personal experience, they will never advertise the extreme negatives of the profession that students only find out after it’s too late and they hate people. I believe many jaded U.S. doctors in particular wouldn’t recommend going into the field after being through it themselves. We’re getting one-sided, filtered views of every profession and creating these “unrealistic expectations that lead to our frustration” when we fail repeatedly or get treated poorly. The other major reason I think people fail is they don’t give themselves permission to succeed. We are good at coming up with defensive excuses too. “Oh I failed at business because I half-assed it, that’s why. If I really committed, I would have succeeded.” We are our own worst enemy. We’re social creatures with families/spouses/friends/coworkers and unfortunately we’re forced to conform and be accepted by our social groups. If our social groups don’t approve of the paths we take, I think subconsciously we self-sabotage ourselves so that we can still be accepted by the groups most important to us while inside we’re regretting the decision. Like you mentioned once before, visualization is really a great technique race car drivers use before they race. They envision their own success before it happens. The opposite is also true. There’s reasons why there are 5 common regrets among the dying elderly, most of them revolving around being more themselves and not like the person they were expected to be. I’ve obviously thought about this a lot!

      | |