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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Visibility versus humility: are you letting yourself down for the wrong reasons?

Have you ever experienced inner-conflict around wanting to do something you love and know you’re good at or that could make a big difference but squirming at the idea of networking, self-promotion, selling and marketing?

That’s OK. It’s not you, it’s your social conditioning.

Yesterday, was the Royal Society of Arts experiential event for Social Entrepreneurs: What keeps you up at night? The reason I wanted to organise this was to support anyone working on projects aligned with RSA values of enlightenment and social progress – values dear to my heart.

A recurring theme I see, whether it be with highly skilled professionals like doctors or visionary social entrepreneurs with a big heart, is a reticence around visibility.

Aside from group work, we had a powerful live 1-to-1 coaching demonstration which vividly illustrated how negative voices can hold you back from your mission in the world.

Legend in the making: A man called Angus told a moving story at the RSA event. After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he quit his job in banking and travelled the world with his fiancee. Then, he decided to set up Limitless Travel, a company dedicated to supporting those with disabilities to have the holidays of their dreams.

He told us how coaching helped him go from a tentative one man band start up to a growing company of eight. He came to grips with his visibility and leadership issues and started winning one pitching competition after another. Introducing singing (We are going on a Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard) in his pitch with encouragement from his coach, was a big turning point, apparently! His story moved us close to tears.

What about you? What story could you share? The world needs more people to overcome their fears and shine their light.

But it’s impossible to be an invisible light. Either the light is on or it’s not. You just have to get used to the vulnerability that comes from your light being out there. And, no, you can’t control everything…

So how will you show up this month, this week or today to bring your talent into the world and make the impact you are meant to make?


As Tony Robbins puts very clearly, if you’re not taking action on something you care about, you probably have an inner-conflict. If you want to be out there, engage with the world in a meaningful way and have a greater impact but are making excuses, you may well have a negative association of some kind with visibility.

But hiding away will only rob you of the joy and fulfilment available to you and deprive the world of what you can bring to the table.

I believe that there’s nothing flakier than someone influential asking how they can help you and your not having an answer because you haven’t thought about it or don’t want to be “pushy”!

As I tell people who are thinking of working with me, there is no magic bullet to resolving these blocks and living your big purpose. Either you are ready to commit time, energy and resources to the mindset work required or you’re not.

Perhaps in the future, we’ll be able to create a courage pill but in the meantime, you simply have to face what’s going on inside you and start getting out of your comfort zone. Even the most extraordinary coach can’t make you do anything. They can only help you to uncover your blindspots, see opportunities and encourage you when the fear sets in.

You don’t even have to be completely free of fear. You just have to be aware of it and lean into your edge in that moment.

Clarity enables courage, so it’s good to be aware of common sources of negative thinking around visibility. The sources of inner-conflict are usually negative beliefs that visibility is somewhat arrogant, unethical or even dangerous. Sources of these negative associations include:

  • Cultural norms where being visible is seen as negative: compare US versus UK business culture whereby the US frontier mentality encourages entrepreneurial self-promotion while UK class culture may have discouraged individuals from “rising above their station”…

  • Cultural norms related to gender (compare cultures where women stepping outside the private sphere and into the public sphere can still be seen as negative)

  • Personal experience: negative experiences of being sold to/manipulated/coerced into someone else’s agenda.

  • Power archetypes: negative personas associated with power e.g. Trump (see previous Wise Wednesday on “power” and why being good at what you do isn’t enough)

  • Any other negative associations with being visible e.g. in childhood if you had a sibling/parent/extended family member who took up a lot of space and you and everyone else had to dim yourselves to keep the peace.


The single biggest reframe that seems to help clients in the service professions is to assign a new meaning to visibility (whether it be networking, pitching, speaking, etc) as being a service in and of itself. It’s seeing “self-promotion” as the point at which you are waving your hand and saying: “Hey, I’m here and I can do this stuff (whatever your talent is). Can I help you?”

For a simple but effective professional visibility strategy, see this previous Wise Wednesdays.

To use an analogy, would it make sense to write a beautiful symphony but not want to play it because of the consequences? You can’t predict the response. Some people will love it, others will hate it and still others will be indifferent. But would it make sense to die with your music inside you?

If you’re hesitating, you may not be ready to get to that place of juicy fulfilment in life. That’s OK. We all have different timings for take off. Mid-life career confusion can become a habit…

But if you’re ready to play your music, how can you show a little vulnerability so others can hear it and join the concert?

Until next week,


p.s. For the first time, I’ve closed applications for my coaching programme “Create a Career and Life you Love”, while I make some system upgrades to create more time for coaching! If you’re interested in finding out when new spots are available press reply with “I’m interested” in the headline and you’ll be the first to know. See here for what people are saying:

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