As an actress, my career by nature put my talents on display. But like many women, I am not always comfortable stepping forward and taking ownership for my own contributions and making the work I’ve done known to others. Do you ever struggle with knowing how to talk about yourself? I hope that my journey will propel you forward in yours!
If I was on stage, my talent was visible to every person in the audience. But there was another side of my acting career that was much more behind the scenes. Before each audition, I would research the play and the character, and I walked into the audition room knowing that my preparation would speak for itself. All the years and hours of training and all the attention to detail set me up for success on the stage without having to tell people.
As a “day job,” I started a children’s theatre company in south Dayton, which grew from one class of 12 students to a series of classes and summer camps along with full production season that served hundreds of students in the community. Believe it or not, I grew it through word of mouth in prehistoric times, WAY before Facebook groups and events. And while, over the last 25 years, the theater continues to be a thriving part of the local community, there are very few who even know that it was my blood, sweat, and tears that spent its first 8 years launching and building it.
Years ago, when the theatre company celebrated its ten year anniversary with a big party, I decided not to go. I wanted to instead let the current team that runs the theatre enjoy the spotlight.
Though I still feel confident in my decision, it makes me wonder: why was I so afraid to have my name and my contributions visible? How can I be a person who’s so comfortable taking center stage, and yet I got stage fright at the thought of making my behind-the-scenes work known?
Then it got me thinking about the difference between self-promotion and creating visibility for yourself. While I have no problem jumping up on stage and letting my talents be seen, it felt like a whole different situation to show up to that event and to garner attention for starting the theatre.
Rather than letting my work speak for itself, I’d be speaking up for my work, and that felt uncomfortable to me.
So, I started asking myself some hard questions about why, and I came to this process that I want to share with you.
1. Examine your motivations
I, like many women, fear creating visibility for myself because I fear coming across as prideful and braggadocious. But in the end, I think it all comes down to MOTIVATIONS. Why do you want to talk about your accomplishments?
There’s a difference between seeking attention and seeking recognition, so start understanding how those two things feel different.
Is your ego wanting recognition for no good reason? Or, is your inner critic sabotaging you and telling you you don’t deserve recognition even if you do?
Spend some time reflecting on whether your ego or your inner critic (sometimes they’re the same) are motivating you. If either of them are getting the final say, it’s time to let your true self call the shots.
2. Find the time and place
There is a time and place to speak up for your work.
Of course you’ll have to feel this out yourself, but generally speaking, it’s not when you’re at a party for someone else, talking to a friend who’s in the middle of a hard season, or when you’re trying to one-up the successful person you’re in conversation with.
But when you’re in an interview, seeking a promotion, or pitching your product or services to someone who’s looking to go into business with you, it’s acceptable—and even necessary—to take all the credit!
I also highly recommend finding a supportive group of women who will celebrate your wins and achievements, rather than feeling intimidated by them.
3. Reframe your accomplishments
Here’s what I’ve learned: Stating what I’ve accomplished isn’t bragging or self promotion. It’s creating visibility.
Letting yourself be seen is a necessary piece of living in wholeness, and it’s also necessary if you want to step fully into who you were made to be.
In order for small businesses to grow or personal brands to flourish, you have to make peace with being visible and with pulling back the curtain on your own hard work.
Are there any areas of your life where you need to create visibility for yourself? I’d love to spend a strategy day with you to help you step into visibility in new ways. Click here to schedule a discovery call with me!
Elle is a veteran entrepreneur and creative strategist who takes businesses to the next level and helps thought leaders expand their influence. As a pitch coach for Aviatra’s LAUNCH cohorts, she uses her background as a professional actress to help women explain what they do with confidence and presence. Visit her website here.