Last week, we talked all about the dangers of the instant: instant solutions, instant answers, instant answers to difficult and complex problems.
We talked about how the instant is meant as a shortcut to certainty, and in the meantime it cuts off depth, meaning, and the practice of craft.
As I sat with the episode, and listened to it on a gorgeous drive through the Philly springtime, it struck me that we haven’t finished diving into the instant.
That leads us to this episode of That’s What She Said: there’s no substitute for being seen!
More than cutting off depth and meaning — which are abstract concepts — we often use the instant to prevent ourselves from being seen.
If we could just fill our dockets and calendars and coffers without ever being vulnerable, we think we’d be blissfully happy. Maybe those sales funnels made of fill-in-the-blanks, or that strategy ‘proven’ by so many people will do it — and will require nothing of our souls! LET’S GIVE IT A TRY.
Making a living without ever showing your true self — particularly for those among us who are sensitive AF, who are artists, who are empaths, who are committed to soul — will likely fall flat.
We hide, and we’re tempted to buy Instagram captions and stock photos and templates and blueprints because surely, surely, the answer to thriving in business can’t be that we show the world our true selves.
After a decade in business, and having talked with many entrepreneurs, I’ll put the most basic hiding we do into two main categories.
If we’re busy, full to the brim, over-scheduled, or otherwise at capacity, we’re afraid to show people how tired we are. Not tired like, in need of a nap, but tired all the way down. ‘Three weeks of solo vacation might be a start’ tired.
We turn our Pinterest-ready Perfection Porn Cannon to Maximum, and we show the world how not-tired and engaging we are right now.
If we’re not busy, we’re afraid to show people that our days are not full of the work we profess to love. We spend our time worrying about clients, trying to get clients, making offers, and worrying about money.
We turn our Perfection Porn Cannon to Ultra Super Whoa, and we show the world how very BUSY we are at every level.
Neither option allows us to be seen.
Being affirmed as not tired, as a superhero, as a ‘how do you do it all’ human, isn’t accurate when you are crawling through the dirt on your knees, begging for rest.
Being affirmed as a busy, full-to-the-brim business owner isn’t true, either, when your inbox is empty, your phone isn’t ringing, and you’re looking at part-time jobs to fill the gaps.
What we need most when we are struggling is to be seen.
A few years ago, a wildly talented photographer wrote a deeply honest blog post about how little money all those thousands of likes actually pay, asking people to actually hire them if you admired their work. As in, pay me I’m awesome. It was MAGNIFICENT.
They were seen, they were paid, they have never been more popular.
Likewise, those who are courageous enough to draw boundaries and say no, they can’t actually work with 427 peeps a year are far more likely to sell out the capacity they do have when they slow down, ask for help, hire staff, and/or raise prices.
Are you tired? At capacity, spent, or otherwise full?
Grab your calendar and start putting X’s in the calendar. Give yourself a week off — even if it’s to sit at home playing catch up or to watch Game of Thrones from beginning to end — and then put one Firm Day Off per week on the calendar. Not a half day. Not a sort-of evening. A full day. Each week.
The space you’ll create will start to work on you — to remind you of why you’re alive and why you’re doing this whole entrepreneurial thing in the first place. You’ll know which step to take from there.
Are you bored, not-busy, or wondering where to get clients?
It’s also helpful to acknowledge when slow business isn’t your fault.
Look at the seasons of your business and acknowledge them honestly. My peeps disengage HARD in the summer (because summer is for being at the beach, not working on new business practices), and they start paying attention again with back-to-school season. Any attempts to market a new thing will be much, much harder for me in August than in September. You probably also have seasons, and working with instead of against them will do wonders.
Once we’re past the basics, there are sneaky and subtle hiding techniques we use to keep ourselves only partially visible.
Have I used these? Of course! How do you think I know about them?
Before we go any further, unfollow, unsubscribe from, and otherwise actively ignore all those who teach you how to be shinier, flashier, and less yourself. This means those who are selling you a lifestyle, business model, or aspirational ideal that is not only never going to happen, but also detrimental to your health or way of being.
I can’t follow stylists anywhere, for any reason, because I get oddly obsessed with how PERFECT everything looks and how my life falls so miserably behind. Like, yes I have that one hyacinth bloom framed in golden light, but the floor is also covered in dog toys and a puppy who’s 75% potty-trained.
The least obvious but most common hiding tactic we employ is actively hiding the full reality of our lives from ourselves.
Refusing to admit truth within ourselves means we can’t deal with it in the outer world.
Which people do you need to ignore or unfollow for a while?
What do you know needs to happen, but it’s not yet on the calendar?
Which programs do you need to schedule or to delete because let’s be honest, they’re not happening this year? (Those can be programs you run in your business, or that you’ve purchased to work on.)
What do you secretly believe is going to happen in your business — and how are you making your worst fears come true? (i.e. You’re afraid you’ll never have enough clients, so you don’t respond to those who ask to hire you and become clients.)
Which products, services, or people do you resent in your business?
Can any or all of them be eliminated?
What is dying to be born? (Yes, you’ve heard this question before, and NO, I won’t stop asking it.)
Those questions are wily. They don’t necessarily have answers that are obvious to others from the outside looking in, which is why you’ve got to pull up a seat at your own table for a heart-to-heart.
At least one of those questions should have sparked a bigger, deeper task you can do to stop hiding in your business.
Now, we move on to the much simpler task of scoping out basic hiding places in your work.
Is your full name clearly associated with your business?
Is there a headshot of you on your homepage that does not include your lover, kids, pets, or career accessories?
Do you have a concise and accurate ‘about’ page on your website?
Do you follow up with those who wish to hire you promptly, and more than once?
Do you repeat yourself — i.e. stay on it — or do you hope everything you offer will sell out with only one casual mention?
Do you have a clear capacity count on your homepage and in your social media bios if you’re currently too busy? (I.e. there are 18 spots left for the year)
Is there anywhere that you’re hiding behind other people’s blueprints, templates, or strategies for your livelihood?
I completely understand these impulses to scurry away from the limelight or to expect your work to ‘speak for itself.’ Being seen is hard work.
Refusing to be seen — sending in your shinier, flashier, more successful and breezy representative — will only distance you from your own life and business.
Do you expect your work to ‘speak for itself’ instead of making and repeating offers regularly?
Do you share un-retouched or otherwise ‘real’ photos of your life and experience?
Do you ever show your peeps what it’s like behind the scenes in your business?
Do you ever let peeps see your face on video, such as on Instagram Live or Facebook Live or Youtube Live or Whatever the Kids Are Using These Days Live?
Do any strategies that used to work but don’t anymore need to be eliminated?
Where do you actively hide your life (home, kids, partner, office, schedule, other jobs) from your peeps?
Are you hesitant to share your work with your community, with friends, or with people in your real life?
We are far more likely to hire you when you are real — when you refuse to style your kids’ messes for Instagram or when you are truthful about the challenges you’re facing.
Hell, we’re far more likely to hire you when we can see that you’re an actual human.
We don’t need you to be perfect.
We need you to do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.
We need you to be honest when you fuck something up.
We need you to do your best work, and to create the boundaries that make the work possible.
We need you to be human.
And you need to be human, too.
It’s the way to fulfillment and to growth.
There’s no substitute for being seen.
To put it another way! Let’s fill in some blanks.
I know I hide when I encounter _________________, and I hide even more when ___________ happens. I let _______________________ mess with my head, and I let ___________ hold me back.
One way to counteract my own headgames is to ___________________.
My version! I know I hide when I encounter enormous dreams, and I hide even more when winter happens. I let cashflow mess with my head, and I let fear of debt hold me back.
One way to counteract my own headgames is to actively try hearing ‘no’ more often by making more asks for interviews, collaborations, and new clients.
Speaking of asks! I’ve got 5 spots for KK on Tap open, and you’re invited to work with me! If you’ve been listening to the podcast or reading the blog for a while now (looking at you, peeps with more than a year of watching me under your belt), there’s a damn good chance we should work together.
KK on Tap includes quarterly 1-on-1 coaching calls, quarterly group coaching calls, access to my extensive archives, a free seat in the Voice workshop, and a phone-a-friend emergency call to keep in your back pocket.
It’s intentionally paced to be slow and steady, so your business life can unfold naturally over the course of a year. (A lot can happen!)
It’s also priced at $225 a month, which is a damn bargain, and I promise that price will go up significantly the next time spots open. Current KK on Tap peeps are experiencing record-breaking income in their businesses, launching new products and services, tweaking their business models, and actively doing the work of being seen.
Reach out and talk to me — firstname.lastname@example.org — and let me know how you suspect I can help. We’ll pick through your mess, toy with new ideas, try on new ways of being, and then I’ll hold you accountable for whatever it is that’s hardest to do right now.
P.S. I hate having a coach. 😉