Let me be frank. Looking back on when I first became a celebrant and decided to make this my full-time career, it amazes me now that I actually stuck with it. Because when I started out in this industry, I was almost immediately greeted by quite a bit of resistance and what could just be called plain old negativity. And what was worse, at the time it seemed to be from every corner of the industry, but particularly, and disappointingly, from my own.
In the past nearly five years, so much has changed and I am now surrounded by people who genuinely encourage each other to succeed. And then recently I was named as Taranaki’s Favourite Wedding Celebrant for the second year in a row. It’s such an honour to receive an award that is voted by the public, and each category winner this year was very deserving.
That said, sadly some things do remain the same. In the weeks that have passed since then, I’ve been on the receiving end of an attempt to undermine me professionally, which was exposed, quite embarrassingly for them, by posting in error - publicly - on social media. Again, that negativity came in from my own corner, from persons I had previously regarded as industry leaders. But that’s the thing about competition. It is often the case when we see successes and achievements by others, some then may feel like it is somehow a reflection on them and on their own performance, or perhaps, the lack there of.
I view competition in a completely different way - for me, I believe that competition is the driver of progress and that competition is absolutely healthy - but only when it’s not at expense of others. That, and that the best in any industry are those who aren’t worried with who’s doing what and how and when - but rather focus on how they can be ‘their own best’.
If I admire someone and what they are achieving professionally - then I will tell them. If I am in a position to help a colleague (or ‘competitor’) in any way, whether I am asked or if I have offered, I will assist purely for the sake of being friendly, being genuine and helping out someone who may need it. I mentor new celebrants that ask for my input, and I am very happy to do so, with no subversive agenda, even though I’m helping strengthen my ‘competition’. I actually saw a great adage recently that sums it up nicely - a candle does not lose its brightness when it is used to light other candles.
For those new to the local industry, this is my advice for you. Your worth does not depend on the opinions of others – it comes down to you, and on how you run your business, and ultimately how you serve your clients. Whether you operate in the wide open spaces, or within a crowded corner of your industry - be sure to seek out only the most positive of social connections. Find those like-minded people that fit with your professional ethos. Be encouraging, be friendly, be helpful and be as inspirational to others as you can possibly be.
And - when you find your feet, pay it forward by helping lift up those around you. That energy will make them feel appreciated and empowered, and professionally that’s the greatest gift we can give.
Thanks for reading.
Ryan Polei Photography