The question du jour is how to be consistently visible when life is challenging.
Let’s dive in.
I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be able to run that launch in the same way that I’d run it in the past. I wasn’t going to be able to show up and chat with people as though everything was fine in my personal life.
Fortunately I’d set up most of the launch in advance. All of the content had been created and scheduled. The vast majority of social posts were written. All the emails were ready to go.
Which meant that content could go out, and people could benefit from the launch materials, even as I sat by her bedside, willing her to wake up.
TAKEAWAY: The more you can create content in advance, the more space you create for yourself. The content does the visibility work for you. It shows up when you can’t.
I did run one live event at the time which was emotionally challenging. I was fortunate to have other people in the room who were able to speak to the value of the work we offer and because I know the work so well and love the topic, that served as its own form of comfort.
I also told people on the call that I’d been sitting in an ICU ward all week. I didn’t go into the details. I just made sure they knew where I was at and understood the emotional state I was bringing into the room.
In sharing that information, I was very aware of wanting to juggle transparency about where I was at without projecting any of my emotional state onto other people.
Inside Women Speaking Up I speak regularly about what it means to embody your message. I feel confident that in that moment I was doing just that; showing people what it means to show up as yourself and to share your work, without forcing yourself or the circumstances to be anything other than what they are.
TAKEAWAY: Your community, your students, your clients, your workmates don’t need to be shielded from what you’re going through. There’s a way to keep them in the loop without oversharing inappropriately or dumping your emotional baggage all over them.
Of course, if I hadn’t been in the midst of a launch, I wouldn’t have convened the session. I did consider postponing or cancelling it. Postponing didn’t seem an option because I was pretty sure things with Mum would be worse the following week. Cancelling is always an option, and if the call had been scheduled for a week later when she actually passed, I would certainly have done that.
But in that phase of waiting to see whether she would pull through, it felt quite nice to be distracted for an hour or so. To be reminded that the world was continuing and there were things to be discussed other than levels of sedation and pressure on the brain.
The following week, when Mum did pass away, I called in support from my fellow teachers inside Women Speaking Up. I handed over a bunch of live events and rescheduled others. This gave me the space to focus only the thing that matters most to me in that moment; being with my family, grieving such a significant loss in my life, and organising Mum’s funeral.
The nature of my work involves holding space for other people’s emotions and helping them navigate through them. That requires me to be operating in a clean energetic and emotional state. Deep grief isn’t conducive to doing that well. So calling in help was an approach that served us all.
TAKEAWAY: Whether it’s calling in someone to teach a class (or more) for you, or handing over your social platform for a day or a week (or a day a week) to someone else, or inviting in a season of guest bloggers, calling in support is critical to your brand’s visibility when you’re unable to be there.
One of the things that became glaringly obvious to me when I created the Visibility Strategy Kit was the power of taking the time to sit back and analyse your visibility efforts. I became aware of just how important it is to apply a critical framework to your efforts and really understand what’s moving the needle for you and what isn’t.
I share that framework inside the Visibility Strategy Kit, and in the annual done in a day visibility strategy retreat we run at the end of each year inside Women Speaking Up. Each time I work through the framework it becomes crystal clear to me where I’m wasting time, what efforts are nice but not necessary, and where I need to focus my attention going forward.
TAKEAWAY: The more strategic you can be with your visibility efforts, the more time you free up for other things; like dealing with a personal crisis.
Critical to staying in a work flow is matching your emotional state to the tasks at hand. When I’m feeling methodical and a bit like a plodder, I do methodical and plodding tasks. When I’m feeling inspired and creative, I create. When I’m feeling connected and engaged, I meet with people or make calls or write posts like these.
The thing about running a small business is there are a great many hats you have to wear in the course of a day or a week. Which makes it quite easy to match mood and task.
But when you’re in a particularly challenging time of life, one mood can prevail. Over the last few months, if I could pinpoint one prevailing mood I’ve experienced, it would be that of suffering emotionally.
Knowing that, I haven’t asked tough things of myself. Life itself has been sufficiently tough. Instead, I’ve opted for actions which would occupy me, which would deepen my sense of connection to family and to myself. I’ve opted for tasks which would remind me of how much fulfilment and solace and comfort I get from owning and running a business.
So the flow state I’ve been in hasn’t been one of joy and positivity. It’s been one of reflection, of introspection, of personal connection. Knowing this, I gravitated toward tasks that matched my inner world and have found ways to be visible in that flow. (I’ve taken this approach rather than pushing for a different kind of visibility which might be better matched to a time when I’m feeling playful or excited or passionate about creating change. I can definitely step into each of those states and I do from time to time. Just not now.)
TAKEAWAY: When things are tough, don’t make things more difficult for yourself. Don’t try and force yourself to be in a state you’re not actually in. Mine the gold in the state you’re currently in rather than trying to take yourself out of it.
From a visibility perspective, not all business models are created equally. Some require much more visibility than others. Some require you to be visible in a very public way – such as showing up on stage – and others require you to be visible in a very intimate way – such as meeting with people 1 on 1.
When you’re living through great challenges, both forms of visibility may be challenging. Which is why it’s so important to consider this question as you’re building out your business; is this a form of visibility I’ll be able to stick with no matter what comes my way?
Writing, for me, is one such form of visibility. I can write when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m grieving, when I’m angry. Writing is my most natural way of processing these things, so the more challenging the circumstances, the more solace I gain by writing.
You will have a similar form of visibility. One that feels as natural as breathing. One that feels essential to who you are.
For some people that’s talking and being in conversation with others. For some it looks like expressing themselves through their appearance or their art. For others it’s about continually planning and preparing and sharing the fruits of that labour with others.
TAKEAWAY: There’s at least one natural, go to behaviour that’s both comforting to you in times of joy and times of stress, and which can serve as the foundation of your visibility efforts. As you’re developing or reviewing your business model, be sure that this go to behaviour is at the heart of your operations.
At its core, choosing to automate is about choosing to set yourself up to receive regular and reliable support.
As a small business owner, automation is one of my favourite resources to draw upon. It opens up the playing field for so many potential business owners in the sense that a business that benefits from automation in 2023 would have required a team of at least 10 a few decades ago.
When times are tough, the beauty of the automated model is that you don’t have to manage staff if the last thing you feel like doing is talking to people. You don’t have to deal with a bunch of drama you have no bandwidth for.
Further, it can do some of the visibility heavy lifting for you like sending out emails and social posts, reminding people about upcoming meetings, and congratulating them when they meet a certain milestone in your course. Which makes your brand consistently visible even when you’re unavailable.
Repurposing serves a similar function. If you’re the kind of person that likes to create a whole bunch of content when you’re in a creative zone, repurposing ought to be your best friend. Having a whole host of content either scheduled for repurposing or at the very least, easily accessible for repurposing, means that if you’re going through challenging times and feel like creative sparks are nowhere in sight, then you still have content to share and you’re still able to keep your brand visible.
In this way, repurposing serves you and it serves your community. Showing people the same content more than once is never the problem people seem to think it is. What it actually does is help people to embed ideas, it reminds them of tools they may have forgotten about, and it gives them an opportunity to revisit an approach as the person they are today, not the one they were five months or five years ago.
TAKEAWAY: Automating business processes and repurposing content are a small business owner’s best friend. This is true at all times, but particularly in challenging times.
Comparison is a strange game. It eliminates all the factors that make a person uniquely themselves and says, I’m going to compare us on one data point; that we’re both running a business or that we’re both mothers or that we’re both artists.
The reality is that there’s simply not enough data there to make a meaningful comparison.Which means that kind of comparison serves one purpose; beating yourself up.
If you’re in a challenging time of your life, you really don’t need that right now.
So, when you find yourself comparing where you are to someone else, rather than using the comparison to judge yourself, I’ve another approach for you.
Once you know the answer to question 3, you have something tangible to work with. You’ve shifted your focus from inner criticism to outer actions that are necessary to move you from where you currently are, to where you want to be.
TAKEAWAY: Comparing yourself to others makes little sense and doesn’t serve you. Turn the comparison around to help you focus on what you need to learn, understand, do. Choose to focus on the action you need to take, rather than on the judgement you don’t need.
With that, we’re at the end of part 2 of our 3 part series on how to be visible in challenging circumstances. This is where you’ll find part 1: The Inner Work and in the final instalment in the series, I’ll talk about the importance of the pause.
See you then.
If you’ve been thinking about being more visible on socials, or in any other aspect of your business, we’re here to help.
We’re hosting Three Days to Visibility very soon.
It’s a group coaching experience where you’ll take that visibility task you’ve been meaning to do and learn a repeatable step by step process for moving through any fears resistance or blocks to doing it, so you can take that next step with ease.
Plus you’ll be able to participate in a live class ‘Showing Up In Challenging Times’ only available while ‘Three Days to Visibility’ is running live this November 2023.
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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.