The Intersection of Visibility, Confidence, and Competence
This upcoming weekend we are dancing with the theme of VISIBLE in my Qoya class, and it has had me thinking about this idea of visibility and how it interrelates to both confidence and competence. I have lived and breathed in the solopreneur world for the last six years. For reasons that I am still wrapping my head around, nearly all of my clients have been entrepreneurs, and for us, visibility is understandably a hot topic. We need to be visible, to use our voices, and to take up space in order for people to hear our message. It’s mandatory.
And yet, in our fast-paced modern culture, I feel like we have the tendency to try to force ourselves to bloom before it is our time.
This might be an unpopular statement, but sometimes our lack of confidence actually stems from our lack of competence. In those cases, some part of us knows that we are trying to bloom too soon.
About a year into my coaching business, I worked with a business coach for a short time. I lasted about a month because it felt like I was building a house without laying the foundation. My soul knew that I did not yet have the chops to be the coach that I wanted to be, so to build a business around that felt structurally unsound.
Back in the day, if you wanted to learn a trade, you would apprentice yourself to a master for years. Now, you take a six-month or yearlong program with 100 other people and call it a day. And that’s if you’re lucky. Sometimes it’s a weekend workshop or two and off you go with your certification in hand. Is it any wonder that so many of us suffer from imposter syndrome?
Because of this cultural mandate for more and faster, we often force ourselves to bloom before its time. And your soul knows the difference. At your core, you know when the conditions are right. When your roots are deep enough and strong enough to sustain you. When you have gathered enough nutrients in the form of both knowledge and experience.
If we try to bloom before it is actually our time, we feel ungrounded, as if the slightest breeze could knock us over. We get the feeling like we are in over our heads. Doing our work is anxiety inducing, as we fear being found out as frauds. We work against ourselves: while the right hand is out there marketing, the left hand is secretly terrified of getting clients. Our mouth says one thing, while our energy says another.
These feelings and circumstances are real and often we don’t like to talk about them. We want to pretend it’s all in our heads, solely our limiting beliefs about ourselves that are holding us back. Of course, that’s often part of it as well, but it’s not necessarily all of it, especially when you are first starting out. When you are new to something, you won’t be competent at it, and that is okay. It’s not a personal failing; it’s part of the process!
If that is the case, take the time to strengthen your roots, to gather the nutrients that you need. Find a mentor. Go deeper with a master certification. Offer free or highly discounted sessions to people. Learn not only from the knowledge of others, but also by doing and practicing and gaining experience. Close the gap little by little from where you are now to where you want to be. Don’t worry so much about charging your full rate. That will come. In my experience, charging more than you feel comfortable with, especially at these tender beginnings, only worsens the fraud factor.
After working with my business coach, I found my longtime mentor Lianne Raymond. Through my work with her, I saw my pleasing patterns and how they held me back from being the coach I wanted to be. I was great at holding space, but because I was afraid of my clients not liking me, I was unable to tell them what I saw. My instincts were there, but I pushed them down and my coaching suffered for it. I learned so much about myself and about the art of wild feminine coaching by being on the receiving end. I also had this wonderful, experienced wise woman that I could bring my questions to when I had them. There were times I wondered if I handled a client concern properly and to have her guidance was priceless. I worked with her twice a month for three years, and that is what built up both my competence and my confidence in my work.
So sometimes we try to force ourselves to bloom too early.
But then there is the flip side of visibility.
There can also be times when we feel the call to bloom, when our soul says we are ready, and we resist! We are competent and yet the confidence isn’t there. We spend season after season gathering more nutrients and strengthening our roots while we allow the buds of our creative work and our gifts to wither on the vine.
If we do not allow ourselves to bloom and flower, our message and our gifts can never be carried out into the world. Our ideas and our medicine stay with us instead of nourishing another on their journey of becoming. We are stuck in the belief that we still don’t know enough, and that we just need to take this “one other course” and then we will finally be ready to put our work out into the world.
But it never ends with that “one other course”. There is usually the one after that, and the one after that.
We are caught in the trap of perfectionism, of believing that at some point both us and our work will be a finalized, finished product. Static. Unchanging. And that is not the case. It’s not meant to be the case. It’s a fallacy.
We need to find “the courage to BE and the flexibility to be always becoming,” as Marion Woodman says.
What does that look like in terms of our soul work?
Let’s come back to our flower metaphor. At first, we are solely becoming. This is the start of the journey where we are doing something brand new. We are pushing our way up through the soil, growing leaves to take in the sunlight, and deepening our root system. This is when we are gaining competence. We are learning.
Then comes the time when we are ready for our first bloom, when we are ready to release our fledgling work into the world. We feel and heed the call even when it scares the pants off of us. We are ready to claim our space and to BE. The flower is the result of the work and the learning that we have done.
But then do we just stay there forever, with that one blossom frozen in time? Is it all over? Is the flower the perfect specimen, the precise embodiment of our soul work that we were working towards, and now we are done?
Of course not. It is simply the first iteration. That blossom eventually falls to the ground to be replaced by another. We continue to learn and unlearn. And each bloom becomes more and more vibrant as our roots grow deeper into the earth of our own lived experiences, while our leaves take in more sunlight in the form of learning new modalities, discovering new ideas and ways of seeing the world, and allowing our perceptions to stay open and fluid.
Each flowering is the integration of our knowledge and our experience alchemized into the wisdom of the moment, while simultaneously surrendering to the mystery of that which is asking to be created.
So really, the blossom of our soul work reflects our own inner journey. Each deepening. Each refinement. An ongoing becoming within the being. Moments of stillness and fullness found in our perpetual unfolding.
Personally, my soul work and I are in a becoming phase. My roots are deepening, new paths are branching out, and I am only starting to sense what my next season of blooming will look and feel like. This time, I am not rushing it; I am allowing it to happen in my soul’s organic time.
Wherever you are on your journey, sending you lots of love and support.