I’m updating my website with the help of a super talented, visually oriented friend.
An unexpected response to the necessary questions like “who is your audience?”, and “what do you want people to feel when they visit your website?”, is my deep and sincere sense of panic at answering them.
Do I tell the truth? Or do I stick with my default of describing my work with simple, practical language in as spare a way as possible. The goal is to convey a professional persona that makes people think “reliable”, “serious”, “focused”, “knowledgeable”… “Let’s hire her!” and so forth.
Along the way I completely stripped out that I am any fun or even have a personality.
I could justify this mode of communication because of the need to be professional, and blah, and blah and blah. Truthfully, it was a fear based choice.
I was afraid that if the messy bits of who I am get out again they would undermine the image I should portray to the world. Yeah I said “should.”
The reality is that its a lot of work to live up to “shoulds”: to monitor and suppress parts of yourself that you or society deem “unacceptable.” My little problem stems from years of being told that my personality was “too much”, “too big”, and “intimidating”. That I needed to “tone it down”.
I believed the criticism and developed a serious style as a form of self-preservation and as a way to fit in where I was told I didn’t.
The serious style stuck because there is a risk to being complex and nuanced in a sound-bite world. A world where we can know and share everything instantly and no communication is immune to a well-timed screen shot.
As I am now writing descriptions to represent how and what I do when I coach & facilitate, I’m looking for ways to create a more authentic picture of myself that includes the flash and flamboyance, the irreverence and humor, that I (mostly) keep wrapped up and out of site.
The reason for the change is at this point in my career I prefer to work with people who know and accept who I am as a whole person, rather than continue to squeeze myself into a non-threatening, low-risk, “toned down” black suited shape.
Nearly everything I do when coaching and facilitating starts in a place of discomfort for participants. Its a risk to engage in personal development, or talk about race/gender/LGBTQ bias, equity and inclusion, and discomfort accompanies progress.
So with less attention on the risk of my being “too much”, I’ll work with my friend to see if we can get my website to authentically reflect who I am, how I work and what to expect when you hire me as your coach or facilitator.
With or without the black suit and serious expression.