I was recently in Nashville at Imaging USA, the largest annual conference for photographers in the US. I was hired as a featured speaker to teach photographers how to attract qualified buyers and convert using their website.
I’m no stranger to speaking in front of big crowds (I’ve been doing it since I was 20!), but I want to be honest with you, this speech was different. It was different because I chose to talk about how to come out from hiding which is a deeply personal and scary topic for me.
Photographers love staying behind the lens (much like an author loves to stay behind the typewriter), so I knew the audience would relate. (I mean, who hasn’t gotten in front of the camera and felt awkward, suddenly unsure of how to talk about what you know!?)
Harnessing Courage for Innovation
Hiding is a scary topic for me because I’ve wrestled with it a lot in my life. I don’t talk much about my history with social anxiety because I am not looking for sympathy or judgment. It comes from my childhood of not making friends easily and also being on high alert to keep everything tidy to help my single hard-working mom. The two combined created this idea that I need to be as excellent as possible to stay welcomed by others (therefore hiding the real me who doesn’t want to be so tightly wound).
These feelings would become a gift in my career because this constraint forced innovation.
For example, recording videos used to make me anxious all those years ago because I wondered if people would like them (…and everyone has an opinion these days, right?). I’m a BIG fan of video and believe there is no better way to genuinely connect with your audience online, so I had to create a way to come out from hiding and move through the worry. That’s when I created my Avatar Heather. I record videos for her which is far easier than creating them for 8 billion people in the world who might judge me. Problem solved.
Overcoming Anxiety and Thriving in Authenticity
Another example, selling used to make me anxious because I didn’t want to be in that situation where some people thought my prices were too high (even if most people thought they were low or just right – it just takes one person to get in our head, right?). So I created a “Customer Journey” framework that would do most of the selling for me. It included videos and our service menu – giving all of our process and pricing information upfront. After I put that in motion, everything was exposed and there was nothing to worry about. Problem solved.
The initial worry of acceptance all those years ago enabled me to innovate hacks that would allow me to push ahead with my goals, without hiding or feeling that level of anxiety. And if I did feel the fear, I’d innovate a way through it. Rinse, repeat.
While all of that was true… I’d never come on a stage and talk openly about it. But the only way through it, is through it. So I felt the fear and did it anyway. And guess what? My talk was well received. The audience was vibrating with connection and there was this overwhelming feeling of community that filled an unmet need for many that day. (Talk about feeling #deeplyfulfilled)
I share this experience with you because maybe there’s a broader message here inviting us all to come out from hiding; to do the thing we’re worried about or afraid of. To walk through the anxiety with our heads held high. To live our truth.
What comes up for you as you read this? Is there anything in your business or life that you’re feeling called to change? Be brave and share it with me by clicking here. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂