On Being Seen

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—”Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

You know when someone takes a picture of you when you’re not looking? Then you see it and you don’t recognize your grim face or your giant upper arms?

Or maybe you catch a glimpse of yourself in a restaurant mirror while you’re eating… Or ruining your mascara at your oldest friend’s wedding.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as it relates to how we position ourselves in our business.

We are so accustomed to positioning ourselves that we don’t recognize the “candid” shot. Or worse, we just automatically hate it or reject it because it shows those cracks. But the candid shot really is how people see you… sometimes. It’s how you look and how you are.  They still love you in spite of it. And quite often, it’s just downright beautiful.

What I’ve come to learn after talking with dozens of entrepreneurs and business owners about their story is that they believe that expressing who they really are in business (showing those cracks) is a weakness. That if they reveal who they really are, they will lose their potential client’s respect or their own credibility in the marketplace.

I think the opposite is true. I think when you show that crack, whether it’s sharing an aspect of your “mess” that you’ve always hidden—how you flunked out of two colleges or went bankrupt at age 40 or realized after 10 years that you weren’t cut out to be a lawyer—or just being bold enough to take a stand on something you really believe in, you actually make a deeper connection with your ideal client.

Look at that woman in the photo above… Would you feel more drawn to her if she was smiling in the standard group wedding portrait rather than here, wiping away her tears? I think she’s luminous.

I believe the light gets in and the clients can find you even more easily when you let the crack show. So forget your perfect offering and just show up.

If you’re interested in telling your story, cracks and all, please check out the  Golden Thread Session.

4 Responses to On Being Seen

  • What a wonderful post, and it’s something I can easily relate to. I recently wrote a post on my blog about being vulnerable with my readers and it’s something that’s hard for me and hard for many bloggers, particularly if you’re aiming to be a niche leader. The truth is people ARE more drawn to others who are courageous enough to show their vulnerabilities. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Jenni Burgan says:

    I absolutely agree! I love taking the photographs that no one expects. It captures the true essence of who people are. Loved your post!

  • Rita says:

    So true. I’ve found that the blog posts that get the most traffic and generate the most discussion are those that reveal cracks or tell risky truths. They aren’t the workhorse posts–the solid content that ranks high in Google and brings new visitors–but I think they are the ones that build relationship with those who are already here. People trust transparency.

  • Madeleine says:

    Hi, Rita! Thanks for writing and I couldn’t agree more. I love the phrase “risky truths”!