“Don’t try to be the best in the world. Be the best for the world.”
To Dewitt Jones, a long-time professional photographer, this is how people can take their craft – and their life – to the next level. Instead of striving to get ahead of the pack, strive to bring the pack along with you.
“We are all on the same great journey,” he explained. “It’s called life.”
And life is about continually finding the next “right answer.” And the great secret is that there is “more than one right answer.” By constantly reframing our viewpoint, we can change an obstacle to opportunity, he said.
Jones is most-noted for his work for National Geographic. His Sept. 19 appearance at Culver Academies was supported by the Class of 1962 Student Enrichment Fund.
The National Geographic editors tell him to “celebrate what is right with the world.” That vision helps him in developing his passion, finding his purpose, and unlocking his creativity.”
While he was a student at Dartmouth College, Jones heard poet Robert Frost speak. At age 83, Frost spoke about uniting one’s vocation and avocation. It was a choice you make every day. Turning “imagination to imagin-action,” Jones said, adding that is when he realized it was up to him to “fall in love with what I do.”
And he added a story his father passed on to him. Two stone cutters were working in a quarry. A man asked the first what he was doing and he said, “I am cutting stone.” When the man asked the second, he answered, “I am building a cathedral.”
The second man had allowed his vision to completely change his mindset about his work. That mindset is how people can “release the passion that is coiled within them.” It allows us to “love ourselves, our school, our studies.”
While others may say “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Jones told the audience “I see it because I believe it.” His vision, passion, and creativity springboard from his discipline and commitment. Choosing the possibilities, understanding that there is more than one “right answer,” and continuing to look past the initial right answer leads you from good to great.
In photography, different viewpoints can often turn a good photo into a great photo. He has found that when you are prepared with the right equipment, positioned in the place with the most potential, and open to the possibilities, you can focus your vision on what is right. It “emanicipates the energy” within you.
Going from good to great doesn’t take miles, he said, “it takes minutes.” But a person has to be ready to play by the rules of being prepared to take their creativity and actions to the next level. He said he finally understood that he “had to know myself as well as my craft” to have both success and provide “something siginificant.”
No life is free of turbulence, he added, but knowing your vision allows a person to “ride the thermals” like the frigatebirds do near his home on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. And, as he learned from a yoga instructor, the shortest, easiest, and best method of meditation is the “one breath” technique.
“Take it all in. Give it all back.”