As an entrepreneur, a creative, or founder of a movement, you’re constantly working on your craft whilst simultaneously doing the visibility work (marketing your content, connecting with people, and expanding your reach).
It’s challenging for many of us. Particularly introverts, shy and private people, highly sensitive and neurodiverse individuals, people with chronic illnesses or living with trauma, and those who just aren’t particularly interested in being publicly visible.
After some years of stumbling through the various business and personal challenges this brings up, and working with a great many women experiencing similar things, I took some time to reflect what I was hearing and experiencing to see if I could discern any common patterns.
I realised that we’d all been working through phases of visibility.
For many years I’d known that building a business is one of the most intensive personal development programs you can put yourself through. (Another is becoming a parent. Embarking on the two simultaneously is its own wild ride of pleasure and pain.) It constantly takes you out of your comfort zone as you:
and so much more.
I realised that intuitively I’d been following a process of moving through these challenges, although it took me years to see the pattern underlying it.
The pattern was difficult to discern because so much of it is internal. It includes:
As you move through these things, you shift into a new stage of visibility and work your way through the pattern again.
My experience involved both returning to earlier stages as well as stretching forward into later stages because I didn’t fully understand where I was and what was most important to focus on.
What became apparent in that process was that there was no way to jump over a stage. If I had been inspired to step beyond my current capacity for visibility, I’d soon find that my habits didn’t support it or that the energetic underpinning wasn’t there and my nervous system would be activated.
This always felt like going backwards because when my nervous system is activated, I tend to pull back and retreat within.
An inner tussle would then ensue between the part of me that wanted to expand and the part that wanted to hide and feel safe. To exacerbate the situation, I’d judge myself for not being able to move forward in a consistently linear manner.
What I know now is that I needed to understand the stage of visibility I was at and stay focused on working through it. That way I’d be able to expand effortlessly, without activating a stress response.
The four stages of visibility are:
Understanding these stages becomes so important in a world where so much marketing advice is focused on stage 3 (the focus there being on expansion).
Moving to stage 3 is effortless once you’ve cleared your visibility blocks (stage 1) and developed the habits that help you to be consistently visible without really thinking much about it (stage 2).
When you haven’t done that, you try to expand only to find:
Sure, you can fake it for a while, but eventually you’ll start spinning your wheels as you try to patch the springing leaks in your business or organisation.
So many people think they’re failing or doing something wrong in business when actually, there’s just a mismatch of expectations based on the prevailing notion that the minute you decide to start a business, you’ll be ready to jump to stage 3 of visibility.
Alternatively, lots of marketing advice focuses on the actions you have to take ‘out there’ to becomes more visible, without recognising that there’s an inner world to visibility which also requires our attention.
Which means the focus is all about doing rather than becoming.
This sets people up for a difficult ride. Sure, you can choose to try and push yourself to do all the things without doing any corresponding inner work but the experience is akin to riding a bull at a rodeo.
A gentler option is to ground your work in a clear understanding of your current capacity, then step forward progressively, doing both the inner and outer work simultaneously.
I would love to see us take a different approach to visibility. One that involves a commitment to doing the foundational work properly.
This means rejecting the overriding philosophy in the online marketing world that it’s critical to 10x your business within the first year of operations. It means understanding that who you’re becoming is just as important as what you’re doing when it comes to the success of your business.
It means having the courage to meet yourself where you are – even if you wish you were further ahead – and focusing on the work required at this stage so you can progress to the next with ease and grace.
To support you with this, I’ve developed a guide outlining the four stages of visibility. I call them Rites of Passage because that’s what they really are; phases on the path to visibility maturity.
To find out more about the four stages of visibility – including where you currently are and what’s best to focus on right now – the guide is free and available for immediate download when you jump on over here.
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At the School of Visibility to prepare you for visibility, or for your next level of visibility.
We'll support you in releasing resistance, clarifying why you want to be visible, and making a plan for how to be joyously and effortlessly visible.
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We recognise that the land was never ceded. We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and we pay our respect to Elders past and present.