“I’m stuck… I do a great job but I’m invisible to others. I’ve been told to ‘get out there more’ and promote myself – become more visible. I’m frightened of what others might think if I start talking about how good I am. Being visible feels false and fills me with fear!”
Extract from an email – Jenny, A frightened coaching client
There’s no shortage of people waiting to tell you how to fit in. They are happy to explain: ‘how we do things ’round here,’ show you what you’re doing wrong, criticize you, correct you, and offer advice.
Fitting in is the social norm. Keeping your head down and not rocking the boat creates an easier life.
This advice can be overwhelming. We are really good at creating and maintaining the status quo (especially in the UK!).
Over time, fitting in becomes the norm and standing out is perceived as arrogant, egotistical, fool hardy or career limiting. Especially in this current climate! (Yes! This excuse fits perfectly.)
So standing out is certainly a much riskier strategy… isn’t it?
Have you noticed… there’s no one pushing you to stand out? Where are these people? Often you are on your own (especially in corporate!)…
I see fitting in and standing out like two people sat on a see saw. Our minds often struggle up and down with this:
- Fit in too much and you’ll blend into the background. Nothing much happens. You become invisible and limit success by hiding in the shadows. Occasionally someone may get a glimpse of your true value.
- Standing out requires you to step into the spotlight, sharing your ideas and making an emotional connection with others. As you receive exposure and attention your Lizard Brain equates this to danger (our ancestors didn’t want attention – this could mean death…). No wonder you feel resistance – all the alarm bells are going off in your amygdala!
This is what had happened to Jenny. She’s an expert in her field and does a great job (often taken for granted). She was hiding her value and only those close to her knew about it. This limited her potential and her career stagnated.
Most of us don’t have anyone to push us forward. Many of us are happy just to fit in for an easier life.
Jenny was frustrated and unhappy. She was working hard and not being recognized and the same time she was scared of being in the spotlight. Her seesaw was working overtime!
Being successful means that you sometimes have to stand out from the shadows and allow your light to shine. In Jenny’s case, she was tired of not getting the recognition she deserved. By increasing her visibility she was able to build her marketability and leverage in the business and share her value with more people.
Here’s how to stand out:
1. Know your Biology. Understanding how your Lizard Brain tries to protect you from threat enables you to deal with any resistance. You are able to change how you think and move beyond it (I regularly coach clients through this).
2. Create your own map. Stop being an order taker waiting for instructions from the Status Quo Committee. Create your own status quo! If you take orders you can’t create your own value and share it with others. Do it your way… chart your own path and create your own value. Be YOU.
3. Know where you’re going. Have clarity about what you want to achieve and WHY it’s important to you.
- What does it look like, sound like or feel like?
- Create your own direction and plan your first step. Planning may take time but it’s time well spent.
4. Make a deliberate choice. Your value is created by what you choose to do. Most of us know what we should do but we don’t do it. Thinking is not voluntary! Choice is about thinking and feeling, not just as a reaction in the moment when you are a victim of your thoughts. Generate possibilities and choose intentionally. Decide to overcome any anxiety or fear associated with your decision to stand out.
5. Put the work in. Be prepared to put in whatever is necessary to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Others may criticize you – know that this is a natural part of the process. Practice, practice, practice – be imperfectly perfect you’ll make a few mistakes along the way.
6. It’s ALL about connection. Learn how to authentically talk about what you do and the value it gives. It’s a gift to be able to serve others and help them to achieve their goals. You don’t work in a vacuum – you are doing a dis-service if you don’t share what you do with those who might need your help.
7. Learn how to be happy. Does your work match your passion for it? Or does your passion match your work? You can’t just BE happy, but you can learn to do things in a happy way. Pay ATTENTION to enjoying the process of what you are doing. Make things enjoyable even when talking to others about what you do and how it might help them.
We’re waiting for you to walk into your spotlight and Stand out!