It doesn't matter how great your gift to the world is...if you never give it.
I learned this lesson the hard way last weekend. While helping run Revolution Why, a retreat for millennials who challenge the status quo, I realized how much I love speaking and facilitating live. Problem is, I haven't been putting myself out there for other speaking opportunities.
So when one of my readers sent me this question, it really resonated. And I figured I'd answer it on video.
Chris writes: "I'm struggling with putting myself out there professionally in a proactive and transparent way rather than following my habit of sitting back and waiting for things to happen. How can I put myself out there in a way that is authentic and helpful?"
Great question, Chris.
If you aren't on anyone's radar, you have no chance of being successful. You can't wow people who don't know you exist. If you want to succeed, it's crucial that people know who you are and what you have to offer.
So, why is it so hard to put our real selves out into the world?
We don't want to be judged. We don't want to look stupid. Basically, we don't want people to reject us.
For our early ancestors, who grew up in small tribes of 150 people or so, rejection meant death. So it made sense to be cautious about self-promotion. But that conditioning doesn't serve us anymore.
These days, if you aren't able to put yourself out there, you'll be lost in the noise. You won't attract the people you want to connect with. You won't be able to get your message out to the people who need it.
And as Chris underlined, it's not enough to just "put yourself out there". You have to do it in a way that's authentic, generous, and likely to lead to opportunities. Not so easy.
But when you consistently put your true self out into the world you create space for totally unexpected things to happen.
Here are 3 steps to putting your true self out there (even if that scares the crap out of you):
1. Wake up
When you don't put yourself out there, you leave your impact to chance. There are people who want and need to hear from you (the real you). By holding back, you are robbing them of your unique gifts.
The main thing that stops us here is rejection. But realize this:
You're already in a state of rejection.
Why? Because when you don't put yourself out there, you're just rejecting yourself.
No one is thinking about you or your ideas because you've decided that you're not good enough. You say "no" to yourself before they can. This may help you feel in control, but it's pretty darn selfish.
2. Show up
Most people reject themselves because they don't think they're good enough. Then they wait to feel more confident.
But confidence doesn't come from waiting. It comes from doing the work.
What if your fear was justified? What if the real reason you feel self-doubt is because you haven't done what's required to be authentic and helpful at the same time?
People who lack confidence often procrastinate a lot. This isn't a coincidence. You won't feel confident until you trust in your ability to get the stuff that matters done.
If "putting yourself out there" seems too big and overwhelming, start small. Reach out to one person. Start blogging or making videos.
When you show up consistently in small ways, it gets easier to show up in big ways.
3. Offer up
When it's time to put your real self out there in a bigger way, be transparent. It's okay to say "this is hard for me" or "I'm out of my comfort zone right now." When we're honest about our vulnerability, it makes us more relatable.
Just don't try to be someone you're not. The truth is, some people are going to reject or ignore you whatever you do. Better to attract the people who resonate with the real you.
When you offer up something of real value (because you've done the work), it's hard to get rejected. You're giving, not taking. And most people can sense that intuitively.
Also, it's probably worth noting that when people reject you, they're not actually rejecting who you are. Just their perception of you or what you're offering. If you can really get this distinction, it will be much easier to stay unattached and unfazed.
What parts of yourself are you holding back? How can you use them to serve people?
p.s. If you have a question that you'd like me to answer on video, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!