20 Apr Are You Ready To Be Seen?
About the social media and selfie culture, John Gray said, “It’s ‘show your best and hide the rest!’ We need a return to authenticity.” It’s true– people take 100 selfies and use every beauty filter on the phone for one IG post. People post photos of a “perfect” marriage and a month later file for divorce. Even though it’s a load of baloney, people still do it. If you are considering starting your own business or if you are already operating one but struggling, I want to ask you a question: are you ready to be seen? I don’t mean being visible online, posting on social media, or recording YouTube videos. I also don’t mean not hiding yourself in a cave and never emerging into society. (We’ve been doing that to cope with Coronavirus, but eventually, we’ll all be out and about again.) I mean: are you ready to really be seen, to be authentic, to be vulnerable? If there’s even an ounce of “oof, this feels uncomfortable to me,” you definitely need to read this post.
This term has become fairly popular in recent years and I think sometimes it gets used in strange contexts. For our purposes, I would define it as feeling like you are a phony in your profession even when you aren’t. You may have a solid track record of 10 or 20 years of production behind you but when you step out on your own or you decide to start managing a business, uh-oh. You may suddenly feel scared and in over your head, which will deceive you into thinking that the experience you bring to the table is either irrelevant or inadequate. Even though it isn’t.
There is nowhere to hide if you want to be successful.
“Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. I was raised in a ‘get ‘er done’ and ‘suck it up’ family and culture (very Texan, German-American). The tenacity and grit part of that upbringing has served me, but I wasn’t taught how to deal with uncertainty or how to manage emotional risk. I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” – Brené Brown
You may have several different thoughts at this point:
•My business is separate from me as a person. Therefore I don’t have to be my real self. My real self is no one’s damn business!
•Oh Gawd. The idea of even recording a YouTube video makes me want to vomit. I just want to hide behind a computer screen. Sara said she is an introvert, so what the hell is she talking about with this “being seen” stuff?
•I think I’m a pretty good actor. I’ll just create a sort of work persona.
•I don’t believe authenticity has anything to do with building a business. I’ve known plenty of fake people who did just fine!
Sorry to break it to you but none of that is gonna fly. If you are terrified to be who you really are and then go out to the open market and be seen by others, do not go into business for yourself or take on any kind of management role. Trust me on this. You’ll save yourself a lot of discomfort and misery.
No one gets an instruction manual or a guarantee of certainty.
As Brené discusses in the quote, a lot of people are not taught how to deal with uncertainty, emotional risk, rejection, online trolls, etc. So when those things hit you (which they will), you may feel uncomfortable, sad, embarrassed, angry, like saying “to hell with it.” Another observation on this from Brené Brown: “There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their lives but who will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgment at those who dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering.”
It is important not to put your focus on the haters and assholes who want to heckle you from the cheap seats. And I think a big part of that comes from having true confidence in yourself and confidence in the service you’re providing. When you know that you belong where you are and your voice matters, woo-ha! Some real magic can happen. The problem arises when you aren’t in that space of confidence and comfort so you either try to hide or you crumble whenever you get hit by the crap from the cheap seats.
Who are you?
In my opinion, the best first step is to know thyself. It may sound odd, but a lot of people really don’t know who they are at the core or what their deepest values are. When I had a midlife (even though I hate that word) existential crisis, my friend Frank advised me to determine my core values– what is important to me, what do I believe. And it helped tremendously. Making those decisions about yourself can truly serve as an anchor for those times when you hit rough waters. Relying on a facade or wearing a mask all day as you’re working will exhaust you and it will repel clients who value authenticity and transparency. In order to run a business, you have to be willing to take risks and keep it real.
Have you been hiding? Does the idea of being the authentic you for the whole world to see terrify you? Let’s talk about it.