Why we need to fall in love with ourselves to be noticed

Visibility consultant Paula Gardner looks at how we can get comfortable with standing out…


Why we need to fall in love with ourselves to be noticed

I spent over 12 years as a PR and marketing coach, helping small businesses learn how to get press coverage. During that time I ran a campaign with the tagline ‘Get The Press To Fall In Love With You.’ It was very successful for me and brought me many clients who went onto get media coverage. Now, since I’ve returned to University to study Postgraduate Business Psychology, I look back at that campaign and wince a little. I now understand that if we want to stand out, what we need to do first, whether we are employed or run our own businesses, is fall in love with ourselves.

I now work with people on raising their visibility and, whilst they initially come to me for the tools and know-how around this, often we end up working on issues like self-confidence and self-esteem. Many times, especially for those of us who have been brought up in British society, we have to get over the fear of looking as though we are showing off. Even the thought of committing such a heinous crime can stop people in their tracks and leave them stuck.

Cognitive Behaviour Coaching is a lovely way to help us fall back in love with ourselves. Whilst it may sound rather formal, the basic premise is that changing the way we think impacts on the way we feel and behave. Changing the way we feel impacts on the way we think and behave. Changing the way we behave acts impacts on the way we feel and think. CBC often concentrates on changing one of these three, and sometimes that’s enough to start things happening. But the biggest and best things happen when you work on all three at once!

Changing the way you think

Okay, it’s notepad and pen time. We are going to start with a bit of detective work and investigate if there is something that’s holding us back. What really helps in this exercise are some visual cues so gather together, if you can, some photos of your parents and grandparents, and just look at them one by one. Think about your Mum first.

Was she shy or exuberant? Was she the type of mum who talked to everyone at the school gate or shared work successes? Did she encourage you to speak up and share your accomplishments with others or were you encouraged to stay quiet and humble? Do the same for your Dad, and then for the two of them together. Finally, think about your two sets of grandparents if you can remember them, thinking about their influence on your parents and you.   

I remember doing this exercise myself and realising that my family historically has a policy of keep your head down and don’t get noticed. If you don’t stand out, you won’t be singled out. And in their eyes, being singled out was bad. What this exercise does is bring to the surface family rules that may still be affecting you even though you’ve long left home. You now have the choice of living by them or rules that you have made yourself.

Changing the way you feel

We are the sum of our experiences, our learning and our relationships. The next little exercise is to take an inventory of what you’ve been through and, as a result, what you have to offer. Doing this with Brian, a client who was hesitant about a change of career to start his own business, and the self-promotion it would involve, we came up with the following:

  • Four years at university, juggling a weekend and evening job with studying
  • Two serious relationships and intense break ups that have increased resilience and increased empathy for others
  • Seven years in the teaching profession dealing with my employer, pupils and parents
  • Five years living on a reduced income, paying off debts and learning how to manage a budget
  • Helping a close friend through the paperwork involved in bankruptcy
  • The experience of a having narcissistic bullying boss that will hopefully enable me to spot one again and has showed me how not to behave.

Of course, his list went on for pages, but he found it a hugely empowering exercise. At times the exercise will show our vulnerability, and we can be surprised at the compassion we suddenly feel for ourselves when we look at what we’ve been through. You wouldn’t necessarily use your list to apply for a new job but reading it just before you get down to applying will help get you feeling stronger and happier about sharing your strengths. You deserve to shout about all that you’ve been enjoyed, learned and survived.

Changing the way you behave

We often read articles about stretching ourselves and coming out of our comfort zone but what’s missing is a plan. All too often we get fired up for a short while and then life goes back to normal. Try a 90 day challenge where you plan exactly how you are going to move out of your comfort zone over that time. At the end of it you will feel stronger, more confident and yes, you will have fallen back in love with yourself and your strengths and capabilities. But only if you plan it carefully.

There needs to be enough in there to stretch you, but not all at once. You can start with the usual shake it up and walk a different way to work or move your room around, but you will have to step it up if you want to benefit from this. How? Slowly and building on what you’ve achieved. So, if you want people to know about all the things you accomplish at work, start by telling your friends and get comfortable with that – warn them if you have to! Move onto a colleague and ask her to share her wins with you too. From there you can move up to a little monthly email update for your boss…nothing fancy but keeping them in the loop and reminding them of all your hard work.

The point is that you can become more visible and stand out without showing off. Apart from the fact that visibility brings credibility, acknowledgement for what we do and who we really are is an intrinsic human need. Don’t deny yourself that because you feel a little uncomfortable.

Paula Gardner of Scarlet Thinking uses PR, marketing and business psychology to help clients raise their profile and stand out, whether it’s to promote their business or get noticed and in line for that promotion at work. She is running a three day Visibility Retreat in beautiful Verona this October, to help anyone over blocks they may have around standing out, with one to one input on how you can raise your profile in a way that suits your own skills and personality. Click here to find out more.

Photograph: iStock