Have you ever wondered what is holding you back from really going all out and playing massively big with your business? Could a fear of visibility be a part of the problem?
I’m sure it does also affect men, but it is women I hear talking about it. The fear of being too visible and suffering with the backlash to being a tall poppy is enough to stop far too many of us from sticking our heads above the parapet and yelling “I am a lioness, hear my roar” or whatever battle cry is lurking within you 😉
I had this great chat at the Inspiring Women Inspiring Women Conference in 2018 about the barriers to entry within politics for women. Family responsibilities were high on the list, but fear of visibility and the cruelty of online trolls was a close second. I believe in business the same two factors are high on the list for reasons to play it safe. As a lone parent with sole responsibility for my child, my need to build a business that can be run around her, preferably within school hours is paramount. I am also not especially keen to face the trolls – one of my dearest friends in Australia has been living with a horrific level of online abuse for years because she is a woman with brains and an opinion. (Yes, I really do believe that is what it all boils down to – it wouldn’t matter who or what she advocated for, the tone of the vitriol would be the same.) At the same time, I can’t help anybody if nobody knows who I am and what I can offer.
I had hit a stumbling block in my writing last month. I missed a self imposed deadline to get the first draft of my book finished by the end of November so that I could send it to my trusty beta readers and completely forget about it for the month of Christmas. I resolved not to beat myself up about missing the deadline and to still take December off, but I struggled to get going again in January. I had lost my mojo. I scared myself when I realised how few Wednesdays I had left before himself returns from his work trip. I resolved to get stuck in, and then another part of the ceiling in the building I manage collapsed and I knew I had to go and sort it out rather than stay at home and write. I was despondent when I got home at lunchtime. I had maybe three hours before school pick up and I wasn’t remotely in the right frame of mind.
Just as I was about to write off the day and start shuffling piles of paper (my favourite way to waste time when I don’t know what to do with myself), a reminder popped up. I had a masterclass to tune into. As part of the amazing Rockstar Writers Academy, of which I am a founder member, Jessica Killingley had lined up a masterclass for us with The Cognitive Disruptor aka #brainwitch Sam Colclough. I worked with Sam a year or so ago and have missed her no nonsense approach to all things brain related. It couldn’t have been better timed.
I tuned in to her visibility masterclass thinking I might learn something to pass on, and maybe hearing Sam’s voice would shift me into flow. What I hadn’t anticipated – oh silly me – was that she would gently kick my ass and shift my gears and get me to understand why I wasn’t in flow and fix it. All in ninety minutes. Yes, she’s really that good.
Underlying a fear of visibility are usually, wait for it, other fears. So even if you think you’ve talked yourself into not being scared of trolls, there might still be work to do. We went through our associations with visibility and then our associations with success. This is key to understanding what our primitive brain believes it is protecting us from by avoiding getting visible.
Focusing on what VISIBILITY meant for me threw up a very strong image of the Kardashians. Despite never watching any of their shows, I still know the names of three or four of them. They are possibly the most deliberately visible family in the world. And what do I associate with them? Vapid, bitchy, self centered, bling obsessed… none of it was good. (Yes, I absolutely acknowledge that having never watched their shows, I have no first hand evidence of this, but it’s what comes to my mind, and for this purpose that is what matters.) There was an a-ha moment right there. I have hugely negative associations with visibility that I hadn’t even considered…
Then Sam went on to share with us some behaviours she’d seen commonly associated with the fears of success and failure. Again, the a-ha and d’oh moments flowed. The ones on her list that resonated most strongly for me were working furiously on many projects as once and not focusing deeply on any of them (GUILTY – I find it very hard not to pursue great ideas!) and not finishing my projects (GUILTY – my grief book has taken me two years already and I haven’t quite finished the first draft). There were others of course, but it is her work not mine, and I’m hoping she’ll get her book written this year and then I can quote page references when talking about her!
The fear of failure, which I thought I was more likely to suffer from, didn’t actually resonate with me the way I had expected it to. Behaviours on that slide included worrying about what other people would think of you and questioning your intelligence. I could connect with having last minute headaches that put you off your stride, but generally it was fear of success for me.
We then started asking ourselves “why might that not be true?” and “what if?” to reframe the stories we tell ourselves.
Head refreshed, I have been much more on the ball all week and am looking at my project list with relish. This book is getting finished and out in the world. So is my course. And I’m launching online TAWN teams… I’m just not going to sabotage myself by trying to do everything at the same time. Thanks Sam, you’re a freaking legend.
I have thrown the question out to my ladies to see how they feel about the notion that simple curiosity could be the key to getting out of our own ways.
Rebecca Millar (Thursday Team) responded that “When working with flower essences I invite clients to develop curiosity as, combined with awareness will lead to self-compassion and self-love. Curiosity is marvellous because it enables us to release judgement, a place we definitely want to avoid as it is one of the slippery slopes down to fear. Curiosity enables us to develop awareness of self and others, helps us not be in victim mode and increases self – development.”
Portia Crossley (Friday Team) kept it simple with “What if?”
Ann McCluskey (Thursday Team) added that “Curiosity is definitely one of the keys that unlocks limitations/stuckness. For me, it’s also about acceptance – rather than resistance or fear of letting go – and having an openness to what’s possible (as Portia says, “What if…?”), new insights, changing perspective, not attaching outcomes. You get the gist. Fear is massive in society….and at the root of most, if not all ills – corrosive impact on us psychologically and physically.”
and the wonderful lone parent coach Nina Farr agreed with “Absolutely. It’s at the core of my teaching too ❤️ curiosity, not judgment. ‘That’s interesting, I feel afraid… what’s that bringing up for me/reminding me of?’. It’s super powerful. “
So how powerful do you think simple curiosity could be in your own life? xx