Ben Hartley is one of the rare individuals who unapologetically shows up however he wants to on social media. He’s not afraid of a little backlash, not afraid of speaking his truth and saying the hard things, and today on the podcast we got off on a topic I wasn’t expecting.
As I often do, I know many of these guests on a personal level. I know Ben has a very solid knowledge of all things business; he’s one of the few I could throw any question at, and I know he’d respond with a solid, tangible answer. He is the founder of Style & Story, based in Tampa, FL which was named one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the country in 2017 and 2020. Ben offers free coaching inside his Facebook Mastermind Group and weekly Six Figure Photography Podcast to help you win more bookings, maximize your profits, and break through limiting beliefs.
My hope was that the vulnerable side of Ben would show up today… and he did.
In my conversation with Ben, you’ll hear us talking a lot about personal growth and doing the inner work to move forward in business. Ben shares his commitment to doing the things he says he will do and his path of radical honesty and transparency that are transforming his life, his marriage, and as a result – his business.
It’s in having the hard conversations with ourselves and the people around us that you can find true success, growth, and happiness. Growth isn’t easy. As Ben says: If you want a hard life, do easy things; if you want an easy life – do hard things.
Here are just a few of Ben’s insights on life and business that he shared in this RAW conversation.
Honoring Your Word
As entrepreneurs, we set high expectations for ourselves and low standards. What ends up happening is that we stop showing up when things don’t go as planned – like when the likes don’t come, or the registrations are low.
Ben has learned to do the opposite and has set standards for himself that keep him committed to showing up. He talks about how it’s possible to treat life as an experiment where it’s okay for things not to go as planned. You can pivot, adjust, shift, and learn while still honoring yourself and the people in your world.
“The standard I’ve set for myself is to honor my word. I do the things I said I’d do, and if I need to pivot, I am honest with myself and make a new commitment.”
Avoidance and Limiting Ourselves
You know that conversation that you don’t want to have? Or the boundaries that you desperately need but are resistant to set?
The truth is, it takes so much energy to avoid the conversation that would bring us back into integrity with ourselves. Avoiding something doesn’t mean it goes away; it will always come out somehow, somewhere, and it’s usually a bigger deal than it would have been in the first place.
I share an experience with a coach who helped me see that I was holding myself back from doing and saying the things that I really needed to. I felt like I was trying to hold up the walls of a dam that wanted to collapse. There was thrashing water hitting the sides, trying to spill over, and I was so worried about keeping that wall up, putting my fingers in the holes, sticking gum in the holes… anything I could to keep the water at bay.
I had completely lost the perspective that holding that wall up the way I was limiting myself from growing, causing massive anxiety about what would happen when the dam crashed, and costing so much time and energy to the people I loved and me.
Once I could let the wall fall, it laid everything out in the open and allowed me to choose which parts I really cared about. It allowed me to breathe freely for the first time in who knows how long and opened up this new level of self-awareness and growth.
Success Means Doing Hard Things
We talk about the idea of success and how most of us settle for a level of despair and call it happiness. Ben’s new definition of success is this:
“Success looks like saying the things I least want to say, and listening to the things that I least want to hear. It’s radical transparency and radical vulnerability. “
Ben shares about a transformational 4-day experience he participated in called The Revenant that led to a lot of transformational growth for himself and how this lens of radical honesty has, and is, saving his marriage. It’s all in having the tough conversations, the ones that we want to avoid, the ones that will rock the boat. But in going to these places that we really don’t want to go – that’s where true growth comes in.
Choosing to Work Hard on Yourself
The interesting thing I’ve learned in 18 years of entrepreneurship is that personal growth has had more of an impact on my business than business growth has. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t taken a class, had a coach, or gone to an event where I have learned something that helped my business… I have, and all those things are great.
BUT the biggest jumps in my career and the biggest shifts in myself have always been from moments of growth. Sometimes those are hard, hard moments. Moments of truth I’ve had to face about the way I was doing or not doing something… realizations about lying to myself in situations I had to change.
There have been MANY moments when I’ve been craving business growth and felt completely stagnant. Like there are no additional opportunities to take, no new directions… I’ve felt listless, and the reality has always been I’ve been the one limiting myself.
“If you want to make a living, if you want to make a legacy, work hard on yourself. The revenue possibility in my business has 10xd all by choosing to work hard on myself.”
I’m excited to share this conversation with you that’s all about personal integrity, being honest with ourselves, and staying committed to our word. I had so many ah-ha moments myself during this talk with Ben, and I think you will too.
More from Ben Hartley
If you want more from this powerhouse leader, visit benhartley.com. You can also find Ben on Instagram at @jbenhartley. Learn more about the transformational program Ben participated in and now incorporates in his work with photographers – The Revenant.