In 2019 we traversed a lot of visibility ground here at the School of Visibility blog! As the year draws to an end, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you, to set you up for your most visible 2020. Some of the big themes we covered in the first half of 2019 included:
- visibility blocks,
- visibility in business,
- creating a visibility strategy,
- the kyriarchy and visibility,
- the courage to speak up, and
- self care and visibility.
Scroll down and read on!
In this article we cover three big stories you might have been telling yourself that have sabotaged your visibility efforts.
Here’s a snippet;
When this happens to me, I notice the story, give myself some time to relax into it, and then remind myself that it’s ok to have nothing to say. The last thing I want is to start panicking.
So I just accept that nothing is here right now.
Then I breathe and ask myself, ‘So, if I did have something to say, what would it be?’
Here are just some of the types of blocks that can arise:
Stranger danger! If you were ever taught to be wary of the world, to distrust strangers – and there were probably very good reasons for you to be taught that as a child – as an adult, they may well be affecting your willingness to be seen by more people.
If you’re carrying around any sort of fear of people you don’t know or about being seen beyond the confines of the safe space you’ve created around yourself, then here’s what you can expect if you don’t clear your blocks…
Visibility in business
Deciding to see myself – and allow other people to see me – as an entrepreneur was a major visibility block for me. I used to call myself the reluctant entrepreneur because I wasn’t one of those people who had a lemonade stand as a kid and always wanted to run my own business. In fact I loved worked for other people! But life and my health intervened and 10 years later here I am. Building a thriving business in that time has meant facing and clearing a lot of stories about entrepreneurship. Here’s a snippet of them;
- My social justice self thought it was too commercial, too immersed in capitalism.
- My spiritual self thought it was too materialistic to earn money by selling things (what was being sold didn’t seem to matter, it was the fact of selling that was the problem).
- My middle class self thought it was crass to sell things for a living when I’d already acquired a good education and really, should go and work for a big corporation or a government agency (that being a more respectable way to earn a living apparently).
- As a feminist I felt guilty about selling to other women, knowing that women earn less than men in society.
…the anxiety isn’t about the value of the offering. It comes from a different place. From the conditioning I’ve received – as all women have – which encourages me to see my value as separate to money. As unrelated to money.
It’s a story that says, ‘Money is over here and women are over there and you can’t ever put a monetary value on a woman’s worth because her primary value lies in what she gives to her family, her children, her husband, and their home. A woman’s value has nothing to do with the economy. It has to do with love.’
A man’s value on the other hand, has always had a financial component to it (at least for as long as capitalism has existed). He not only can, but is expected to negotiate the monetary value of his worth, and as a society we’re happy to pay him accordingly.
The consequence of being in the perverted masculine model we’ve been operating under has been an obsession with the mind, with push, and force and making it happen and success at all costs. There’s been a dehumanising of those of us who make up the workforce, through an obsessive focus on productivity at the expense of humanity.
As business owners we carry that model.
Creating a visibility strategy
In 2019 we started a series here at SOV that we’ll be continuing in 2020 which takes you step by step through the process of creating a visibility strategy. You’ll find all the chapters we’ve published thus far in the series right here and in the meantime, here’s a fast way to think about the different aspects of a visibility strategy;
…here are three areas you can focus your visibility strategy on:
First up is deciding which is most important to your business right now.
The kyriarchy and visibility
Before we begin, a quick note on terminology. Kyriarchy was a term coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenzain in 1992 to describe a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission. It takes us well beyond this idea that you’re my oppressor and I’m your victim. It points to a far deeper complexity than that. One which accounts for context and holds that a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others.
For the definition of other words regularly used in social justice spaces, be sure to check out our glossary here.
GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) in conjunction with colleges and universities around the world, produced a report of global trends in women’s entrepreneurship for 2016/2017. Here’s just some of what they found:
- During that time, in the 74 economies they reviewed, the total entrepreneurship rates of women increased by 10%, and the gender gap narrowed by 5%.
- Also, they found that women entrepreneurs are 5% more likely than men to be innovative in their businesses.
Good news for female entrepreneurs! But don’t celebrate just yet. They also found that:
- women entrepreneurs have lower growth expectations than men, and
- higher rates of discontinuance.
In short, we’re continuing to step toward entrepreneurship, and when we make the leap we’re more innovative, BUT we expect less and we give up faster.
If you don’t ever take the opportunity to reflect on those norms, you never get a clear picture of the assumptions you’re operating under, and that has an enormous effect on the way you live your life and the way you interact with others.
In a capitalist democracy for example there’s a myth of meritocracy; that the best just float to the surface and therefore you should only ever employ the best person for the job. Furthermore it’s assumed that that person will always be found because the playing field is wide open.
What that doesn’t account for are the layers of oppression that limits the effectiveness of meritocracies. Systems like patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, classism, and homophobic thinking all influence the capacity of a meritocracy to operate at all.
If you’ve ever experienced any level of social or economic privilege – whether you’re ably bodied, or white, heterosexual, or you grew up in economically comfortable environment – then it’s inevitable that your capacity to see and hear other people’s experiences has been diminished.
This is hugely important, because in order to work with women in a mutually uplifting way, you have to see them and you have to hear them.
Presuming you know their story or understand what matters to them, or just including them in your events in order to tick a box, is not empowering.
The courage to speak up
When you’re ‘the other’ in society, it’s very difficult to speak truths about yourself and your life without it being controversial.
Invariably, your experience, your assertion of yourself as a fully fledged sovereign being is going to challenge the status quo in some way.
So instead of trying to manipulate your opinion into the least offensive version possible, stop. Understand that such an approach isn’t serving you and will never serve you.
Everyone who has said anything worth listening to is, at some point, considered controversial by someone.
Some people think it’s controversial to speak about religion or politics, others think it’s controversial to be a vegan or to talk about how much money you make. Some people think talking about sexual assault or a woman’s right to an abortion is controversial, while others believe that recommending alternative therapies to treat chronic illnesses is controversial. For me, I categorise all of these topics not as ‘controversial’, but as ‘life’. So unless I want to exist on the fringes of life, I’m going to talk about them in either my business or in my home.
Self care and visibility
This article shares five ways to care for yourself while you’re choosing to speak up and be more visible in business and life. Here’s a snippet;
Once you’re known for a topic, people expect you to express an opinion about anything related to it. All. The. Time. This is then fed by your own ego and/or fears where (i) you’re happy to be asked and seen as the expert so end up reaching for opinions even when you don’t have them, and/or (ii) you’re driven by the fear that sounds like this; ‘If I don’t express an opinion this time, perhaps they’ll never ask me again.’
Having the confidence to say, ‘I’m not going to express an opinion this time’ is something that takes a level of self confidence and surety which must be built over time.
All year we’ve offered free audio training ‘How To Speak Up in a Noisy World’.
It shares three simple tips for speaking up with confidence and clarity.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s where you can access it.