Trust Your Instincts Again
I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing Walid Azami, a renowned photographer, on the Artemist podcast. It was in many ways an eye-opener for me. One of the things Walid touched on in our chat was how we need to trust our instincts again, because society conditions us to kill them. So how to trust your instincts again? Well, I’m going to paraphrase some of what Walid had to say about that for this post, but I highly recommend you go and listen to our chat. It’s wonderful!
Anyway, here’s Walid’s take on instincts and art:
Trust Your Instincts
No matter who you are, no matter what kind of work you do, whether you’re a photographer, a painter, or whatever your artform is, you need to reclaim your insticts. Because we lost them. Without your insticts you are just a dull tool, and you’re not going to be your best.
Some of my best decisions, some of my best jobs, some of my best moments, where I got out of a bad situation, happened because I relied on my instincts. There were moments when I listened to the person who was then my agent/manager saying: “Be like this.” But it didn’t feel right for me. When I didn’t listen to my gut feeling and said: “Okay, fine, I’ll just do it, whatever,” that helped, for a moment, pretty much almost derail my career.
Getting back on it was this gut instinct to help people.
So if you can trust your instincts, if you can learn to fail 100 times, knowing that we are re-developing a skill, you’re on the right track. It’s all about insticts.
Now, you can call it instincts, you can call it God, energy, the light, the universe. I don’t want to label it because it scares people. There is something that is greater than you and I, and it’s just there.
Go Back To Nature
Animals have fight or flight. We are the only living creatures on this planet that teach our young to kill their instincts. And it’s because what other people think of us.
“Oh, don’t cry. We want people to think you’re a good baby.” We constantly get this reinforcement. Don’t do things because what others may think of you.
“Be a good girl, girls aren’t that loud.”
“Be a good boy, boys don’t cry and show emotions.” And so we build on that. And we teach people to kill our instincts.
Any successful business person relies on their instincts. I can give a substantial bit of credit for my career to the fact that I follow my instincts hardcore. I hire on instincts, I let go on insticts.
When my instinct say something is up, my eyes go there and I start searching. “Something is up.”
I take clients that offer me less money than a different job, if my instinct say: “No go for this one, there’s something very special about this.”
So if I could tell artists that want to be successful to do anything, it is:
Practice your instincts.
It’s that voice that tells you: “Don’t get in this car right now.” And then later on, you find out there was a car accident.
It’s that voice that tells you: “Hey, call your friend right now.” And when you call them, they say they say: “I was having the worst day, thank you so much for calling.”
That voice is for your highest good. And we teach people to kill it. Because of what somebody might say.
“Don’t be too flamboyant, somebody might think you are *blank*.”
“Don’t put your work out there, somebody might not think it’s good enough.”
So ultimately, get back in the habit of learning to use your instincts. You’re going to mess up at first, because you’re redeveloping something. You might make an ass out of yourself at first. But it’s going to serve you so well in the long run.
If you feel a client is not going to be good for you, say: “Thank you, but no, thank you.”
How Instincts Led Me To J-Lo
Jennifer Lopez and her manager, Benny Medina, called me in five times for a job. Five times. Five times I did not get the job. Something stopped it.
Then I was sitting there and I got the weirdest feeling. My instincts said: “Hit up J-Lo’s people right now. Just hit them up and say: “Hey, how are you? Let’s do something.””
I emailed. The manager called me instantly and said: “Your timing is impeccable. Because she and I were just talking. For her Vegas residency, we want somebody to document this, to tell a story. We were literally just talking about it, and you just emailed us.”
Some people can say: “Oh, that’s just lucky timing, Walid.” No, that was my instincts that said: “Drop everything right now and just contact them.”
So that’s one example of how instincts has helped my career.
Trust your instincts, develop your instincts, listen to them, it will not steer you wrong.