NAPV03Following our passion has led us to some incredible experiences. We’ve been to all 50 states, and to numerous NAPV04countries over five continents. We’ve worked for the National Geographic Society and The New York Times. We’ve done campaigns for multinational companies like Siemens. We’ve photographed His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and four of the last five Presidents of the United States. And we fail all the time.

Anyone being honest with you will admit that the road to success is fraught with potholes. But in reality, those failures aren’t failures at all: they are learning opportunities. They are chances to reflect and change, self- evaluate and redirect. If we had stopped every time we encountered a roadblock, if we had given up each time we were confronted with disappointment, we never would be where we are today. We chose to view each setback as a brief NAPV09delay in our journey, and one that we would overcome. For us, “no” is not an option. We choose to attack each goal that we set with fierce determination, and how we view those inevitable “failures” is also our choice; we choose to view them as merely a temporary redirection.NAPV06

So now that you are no longer afraid to fail, keep this in mind: it takes huge amounts of perseverance to accomplish one’s goals. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in the endeavor of your choosing. That’s a little over 5 years of working at something 40 hours a week, every week, without a vacation. That takes passion and endurance. (If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!) But the reward for that persistence and hard work is amazing.

In order persevere you need to really believe in yourself and what you can achieve, without any self-imposed limitations. You need none of that hypercritical internal dialogue that begins with, “I can’t…” or “I couldn’t…”. And if you find that you have a hard time NAPV02believing that you can do anything you put your mind to, then just pretend! Fake it with an Oscar-worthy performance. The end result will be the same, and you’ll prove to yourself that you could do it all along.

And if you have external voices telling you that you can’t, ignore those too. Find the ones that are encouraging, and constructive, and supportive. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice; show someone your passion and it will inspire them to invest in you.

We dream big (unencumbered by limitations, either internally or externally imposed), set our goal, and then attackNAPV08 it. We create the life we want to live, and our passion fuels our choices. We’ve found that when we follow our passion, we never know where it might lead. Sometimes we take unexpected detours and we may not end up exactly where we had intended, but just as often its better than we ever could have imagined.

We’ve failed so many times I probably can’t count them. But we don’t keep track, anyway. Because the failures are just detours, bumps in the road along our path, temporary challenges to NAPV05overcome. Our eyes are on the horizon, fixed upon the goal, locked on the thing that we want. If you are passionate, you won’t be afraid to fail. It’s part of the journey. Every day you have a chance to make your life extraordinary. So go out and GET IT.


~ Anna Brahmstedt Akerlund

Nels Akerlund Photography + VideoNAPV01 - Copy