Visibility wobbles are completely normal

small business visibility blocks Mar 31, 2023

Ever had that experience of taking a visibility-related step forward (reaching out to a new audience, running a live event, launching a new product, asking for a review of your book, sharing an opinion you haven't expressed before, changing up your branding or messaging) and then had a negative interaction or experienced a backlash from your community or just felt really exposed and shrunk back again?

In business this can look like:

  • starting a launch well - with announcements, live videos, pre-launch content etc - and then fading into obscurity before the close cart date because you're just not seeing the response you expected
  • pod fade - where podcasters come out of the gate with some really great content, find the whole thing more work for less reward than they anticipated, and stop creating episodes
  • posting about a new topic on social media, only to have someone criticise you very publicly, and deciding to step away from socials indefinitely
  • expressing an opinion in a meeting, online, to a friend, and having them disagree with you. Deciding to avoid potentially controversial topics for life
  • flirting with the idea of a new visibility platform for an hour or a week, realising there's a learning curb involved in really nailing it, half heartedly giving it a go and then forgetting all about it.

I call these experiences visibility wobbles.

What's important to know about such wobbles is that they're a perfectly normal part of human development.

Think of a baby learning to walk. They wobble constantly. They pull themselves up against the lounge, and from their new vantage point they smile proudly, feeling like the most accomplished person on the planet. Then they take a step forward and.... topple over. 

They fall because they've learned the critical action of pulling oneself up, but not of balancing as you stand on one leg and propel yourself forward with the other. It's a new skill they didn't know they needed until now. A skill they have to learn and then combine with the skill of pulling oneself into a standing position.

The thing about babies is they never seem particularly defeated by their wobbles. They seem to accept them as a normal part of being alive. They don't judge themselves for not walking the first time they stand up and they don't give up and stay seated for life. Most human beings - baring those with a significant disability which precludes walking entirely - eventually get the hang of walking.

I think of visibility the same way.

Yes it's challenging. Yes, we wobble. Especially when we're trying something new. 

When we step out of our comfort zones, entirely new challenges await us and we are highly likely to fall. Not because we shouldn't have been stretching in the first place but because we're not yet used to this new way of being.

It's important not to let the inner critic take over at that point but rather, to tap into your inner cheerleader.

We cheer babies along all the time when they are learning new things. I remember teaching my kid to catch a ball when she was a toddler. She dropped it on something like her first 20 attempts. I cheered every single time. I told her she was doing such a good job, and in my most encouraging tone, gave her small tips around her arm posture and where to look. With all that support behind her, she felt amazing even though she didn't appear to be achieving her goal. What she was doing was learning how to achieve it. And with all that encouragement, on the 21st time, she finally caught it.

When you step out of your comfort zone, you're not going to nail it the first time around. You have to give yourself time to acclimatise to your new environment. You've set yourself up for a whole series of lessons that must take place before you can master the new space in which you find yourself.

If we can all be as encouraging to ourselves as parents are when children wobble and/or drop balls they're learning to catch, then we too will be able to take pleasure in stepping out of our comfort zones. Surely that's more appealing - and more likely to inspire you to keep going - than taking the whole thing so seriously and judging yourself along the way. 

Embrace the visibility wobble, I say. It's all a part of the process.

If you'd like company, encouragement and coaching as you wobble your way toward achieving your visibility goals, Women Speaking Up is the place for you. It's our group coaching and leadership development program for women working to expand their reach and embody their message.

It's a gentle, encouraging, heartfelt group of smart, emotionally intelligent women, who are all committed to doing the work of becoming the leaders they were born to be in the industries they were born to influence.

If that sounds like you, here's where you can find out more and enrol to join us.

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