For years, I held on to the belief that doing a commendable job was enough. The quality of my work spoke for itself, and satisfied clients brought in new ones through word of mouth. It was a formula that worked, and fortunately, it still does. This conviction felt so deeply ingrained that everyday experiences only seemed to reaffirm this self-imposed rule. Yet, a part of me began to sense that something was amiss.
In an era where self-promotion and visibility are paramount for expanding one's reach and making a positive impact, I often found myself questioning why I shied away from it. It seemed only logical to do so, especially for those of us who care about the practical aspects of our endeavours, be it launching a new product or finding the perfect job. The same principle applies when we strive to communicate messages we wholeheartedly believe in, in order to grow the community dedicated to a shared cause. This holds true not only for our external image on platforms like LinkedIn but also for our visibility within our own organisations.
If we aim to disseminate our message and fulfil our mission, it must go hand in hand with a willingness to showcase what we've built.
Easier said than done, right? I know I was guilty of procrastinating on this front for a while—eight years or so, to be exact. This hesitation is often compounded by the fact that our teams or organisations are thriving, and the results are plain to see. In such cases, self-promotion may feel unnecessary. This sentiment is even more pronounced if authenticity and humility are core values we hold dear.
So, how do we conquer the internal barriers that hold us back?
Recently, someone shared their experience with me. While exploring new professional avenues, they were repeatedly asked to delve into their accomplishments. In doing so, two things transpired. First, after narrating their story four or five times, they gained a profound awareness of just how much they'd achieved and how little credit they'd given themselves. Second, they realised how obscured these achievements were.
Similarly, a client once requested a reference list for my work over the past 22 years. Believe me, it left me breathless. At one point, I thought that if I were to look at the list while pretending it belonged to someone else, I'd have dismissed it as fiction. But there it was—a detailed account of my journey. How had I stayed away from telling my story for so long?
It's a daunting challenge, as I often find myself grappling with two inner demons...
One whispers, "No one will be interested in knowing that," while the other chimes in with a casual "Let bygones be bygones." Hence, showing our story is about overcoming our excessive reserve.
Telling our story is about reminding ourselves of our bigger mission. It's always easier to showcase what we do when inspired by a greater purpose. For instance, if my mission is to empower women to just be enough while aiming high, I might want to share my "be enough" everyday teaching moments, often inspired by small or bigger "screw up situations".
Another thing that inspires us to be more visible is our empowering self-beliefs. We often engage in self-critique but rarely indulge in silent reflection on our greatness. The story of my friend's revelation of their greatness triggered by an interviewer's questions is a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery focused on past success. And it resulted in improved self-confidence.
And last but not least, we often dwell on what we lack, what is not OK. And if we learn to practice modern alchemy and transform the stories of our setbacks into inspiring tales about the stepping stones of our future success, showcasing our greatness becomes second nature.
In an upcoming post, I'll delve into the specifics of my milestones and the pivotal moments that shaped my path. Additionally, I'll explore how we can summon the courage to share our stories, collect recommendations, and put them on display. It all ties back to authentic self-expression, embracing vulnerability, and finding the courage to let our light shine. After all, it's not about bragging, but about honouring our journey and the growth it has fostered. It's about recognising that our stories, no matter how ordinary they may seem to us, have the power to inspire, motivate, and connect us on a deeper level.
Stay tuned for more on this transformative journey of self-discovery and self-promotion.