One of the greatest hurdles to visibility I’ve seen in my own business and in my students is the idea of holding off on visibility. “I’ll be more visible when I lose weight, when I’ve had my hair done, when I get a better office to make videos from, when I have more time, when I have more money.”
We do this in a whole raft of areas in our life right? I’ll make more money when… I’ll write that book when… I’ll live my dream life when…
This week I found another really subtle delay tactic that’s been keeping me from being more visible. I saw it in light of a fairly big blow up on social media around the launch of Danielle LaPorte’s new program. If you don’t know Danielle, she’s a personal development teacher most well known for the creation of the Desire Map. Recently she released a program using imagery which many people of colour found offensive. They spoke up about it and she changed up the imagery and issued an apology. It has definitely hurt her brand, she’s likely lost some followers, but now everyone is moving on. In the same week a non-binary person named Mariah wrote a post that challenged the way Danielle speaks about masculine and feminine energies and highlighted what they saw as some of Danielle’s blind spots in these areas.
I mention all of this because as someone who cares deeply about the empowerment of marginalised groups, these incidents raised a visibility block for me. I realised that Danielle’s experience has always been one of my greatest fears – that I won’t be a good ally to other marginalised groups. My fear is that I won’t have cleared enough of my shadow self to put myself out there and not be shamed or exposed in some way as racist, ableist, or some other ‘ist’. I saw this week that this fear is keeping me from being seen more and from saying more.
You may have a similar fear.
Many people I’ve met in spiritual circles for example have a fear of not being perfect. The delay tactic goes like this; ‘I’ll just do some more clearing before I take action. I’ll just spend another year doing this other spiritual program before I focus on my business.’
Similarly, women whose identity is connected to their intelligence tell themselves; ‘I’ll write that book, pitch myself for that talk, focus on my business after I’ve got another qualification, a better qualification.’
And so on it goes, depending on what our identity yokes itself to.
Ultimately, this thought that we’re not enough yet, holds us all back.
And just being told that actually, you are enough, doesn’t always cut it.
You need to find that inner you that really truly believes you need that additional qualification, a better body, more clearing around seeing your privilege and how that blinds you to other people’s disempowerment, more time, more money. You need to find her and you need to clear out the stories she’s carrying around.
Then you still might want to focus on doing more spiritual work, or getting another qualification, or being more productive with your time, or losing weight, but the big difference is, you’ll be doing that WHILE you’re taking action. You won’t be doing that INSTEAD OF taking action.
The key to moving forward with less fear
And while you’re taking imperfect action and you’re exposing your flaws and vulnerabilities to the world, you might also want to think about this; rather than waiting until everything is perfect, what if you just learn to fall gracefully?
The bigger you get, the more public and visible your falls. With great visibility comes great risk. And great reward.
So if you want the great reward – whatever that looks like to you – then rather than fooling yourself with the idea that one day your education will make you impenetrable to criticism, or your body will be so beautiful that no one will find fault with it, or you’ll be so spiritually evolved that you won’t be impacted by the troubles of the world, you might want to focus instead on learning to fall gracefully.
Most of the important lessons in life I’ve learned from watching my kids learn to walk. At the moment my son is mastering the art of walking and for the last few months he has fallen over A LOT. I mean, all the time. What’s made the whole thing painless though, is that he falls without story. He falls and laughs. Or he falls and just gets back up. Of he falls and learns that he isn’t yet ready to step down such a big step and adjusts his behaviour next time. Or he falls and discovers something magical on the ground that he wouldn’t have seen if he hadn’t fallen over.
In essence he falls with grace.
One of the criticisms I saw many people make of Danielle LaPorte over the last few days was that her apology was equivocal. Amongst other things, it focused on the pain caused to her rather than the pain she had caused others.
In short, the problem wasn’t so much that she’d made a misstep when it came to her imagery. It was that when she realised her mistake, she hadn’t fallen with grace.
You may or may not agree with this assessment but here’s the point; you’re going to trip up on your path of visibility. You’re going to be called out for being a racist or an ableist or for being too woo woo or for not knowing enough. People are going to call you out.
Some of those people will matter to you. They’ll be people who love you and who’ve followed you, and who’ve invested deeply in your work and your message. They’re the people who really matter to you so when you get called out by them, it will hurt 1000 times more than being called out by strangers who are looking to throw dirt at any random target they come across.
At that point, you want to remember that these people love you because you’ve led them. You’ve shown them a path and because of that, even though you’ve made a mistake, they’re still looking for your to lead.
In the moment that you realise you’ve misstepped, they’re looking for you to teach them how to fall with grace (although they might not be articulating things in exactly that way). And if at that point you can’t fall with grace, they’ll turn elsewhere to find someone who can. Because that’s the lesson they need at that moment.
If, on the other hand, you fall openly and authentically and apologise, and allow them to see the shame you feel, they will love you forever. They will love you MORE for your mistakes.
So let’s all learn to fall with grace.
And let’s take everyone – every teacher, every guru, every influencer, every authority figure – off their pedestals. It’s time for ALL to lead and to do that, it’s time to acknowledge that we’re human. None of us has this all figured out and we’re all going to stumble at times.
Rather than always focusing on getting back up, let’s focus on falling well. That way the damage you cause on the way down – to yourself and to others – is minimised. And your recovery time is so much quicker.
I ran an fb live video this week in response to Danielle’s promotional choices, because I wanted to speak more broadly within our community about about cultural appropriation and reclamation. Here’s where you’ll find the video which includes links in the comments where women of colour articulate the impact of certain imagery on them and why this matters.
This is the article written by Mariah about their non-binary journey.
UPDATE: Since writing this piece Danielle released a second apology which to me, feels exactly like falling with grace. We all have a distance to go but this I do believe that this is how we move forward. With acknowledgment of our mistakes and a willingness to move forward with inclusivity and with a genuine desire to do differently.