Being visible, truly being seen, has been an evolution for me. I grew up in a household where hiding and invisibility were the norms. In fact, to avoid being seen, I turned down a dozen promotions that would have thrust me into an active leadership role. I perfected the subtle art of hiding in plain sight.
Pay No Attention to the Woman Behind the Curtain
Recall that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy finally gets an audience with the wizard? Toto takes action and pulls back the velvet curtain, revealing an average-looking guy. Shocked at being exposed, he says into the microphone in his wizard’s voice, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
That image totally resonated with me. I loved being involved with big projects, playing a pivotal role in completing them on-time, under budget, and in a way that brought people together. But I didn’t want to be noticed. I liked doing my work from behind the safety of that heavy curtain.
I didn’t even mind if others got credit for my ideas. (Case in point, I designed a process lauded by the Federal Regulatory Commission for its ease of use and completeness—and created it so thoroughly that software used today by energy companies follow that process— and my boss took the credit.)
Invisibility + Entrepreneurship = Broke
Fast forward to me starting my own business and hitting up against my visceral need to be invisible. I struggled the first several years, in conflict between what I knew I could create and how many lives I could positively impact and needing to stay safely ensconced behind my computer screen. Referrals dripped in, and I lived in a state of ebb and flow. Honestly, fear of visibility overshadowed the fear of having enough income to comfortably cover our living expenses.
To attract my ideal clients, I had to change, and being visible was the keystone. I discovered there was a difference between knowing something and living it. My conscious mind knew I had to network, join in group discussions, and share my ideas—yet, I dragged my feet.
In my corporate career, when I performed well, exceeding expectations, more was given to me. And I took it all on. In Brené Brown’s terms, I hustled for my worth. This led to exhaustion and adrenal fatigue, further compounded by my family life. In short, even though I moved away from a corporate career, I brought some of those habits and expectations into my solopreneur life. I suffered from a corporate hangover.
Having stepped away from that adrenaline rush, I desperately didn’t want to go back to it. Unknowingly, I’d accepted a life of existing rather than living a life. There was so much to learn! Mentors taught me how to balance my introvertness with my entrepreneurship and trust myself so deeply that I knew in my bones that, no matter what came up, I would be okay. More than okay.
I would thrive. I am thriving.
Fortunately, I worked with people who encouraged each tiny step I took. They rallied around me when actions didn’t create the results I wanted. They challenged my thinking and called me out whenever my cloak of invisibility came out. Because of the community I surrounded myself with, I slowly started stepping out more. Sharing my story. Showing my unique brilliance. Imperfectly.
That doesn’t mean my ninjia tricks for hiding have all magically disappeared. Quite the contrary. The difference is I’m now aware of how I hid and where. If I slip behind the curtain, loving hands reach for me to encourage me to step out. (Recently, another layer of invisibility slipped away with the publication of My Camino Walk #2.)
And an amazing thing is happening: my dream of having a global business, reaching and serving visionaries, has come true. I’m filled with intense gratitude for the opportunities that come my way. I love my clients and their work.
I am becoming comfortable with being seen.
In my 12-week Journey Program, I help visionary entrepreneurs dig deep into the muck that holds them back, heal those wounds, and visibly step into their own brilliance. Together, we amplify our positive impacts on the world. Those who join Journey before September 11, will receive an extra bonus course on beliefs!