Do you feel like you need to “put yourself out there” to advance or excel in your career?

As an academic, you’re expected to make yourself and your work visible. This means sharing your research (at conferences, public engagements and on social media), conducting media interviews, and publishing, among other activities. Your ability to get grants and other opportunities may depend largely on how you communicate the value of your work publicly.

For other higher education professionals, the specific requirements around visibility may be slightly different (i.e., there is less emphasis on publication, but more on leading committees/initiatives, networking, conferences); however, the expectation to be public-facing and to communicate the value of your work exists.

Quietly doing good work doesn’t tend to get noticed, or rewarded.

How do you feel about putting yourself out there?

I have a strong value around sharing what I’m learning in my work, based on the assumption that it might help someone. I also know that the process of sharing and being public helps me reflect and refine my thoughts. As such, there are times when I sincerely want to be “out there”.

For you, there may also be circumstances when being visible, “out there”, and when explicitly addressing the value of your work, feels good and energizing.

There may be other times when it feels unpleasant, uncomfortable, and tiresome.

For some folx, the latter situation is always the case. For example, I have coaching clients who see being “out there” as bragging or boastful and have a strong value around being humble. For them, engaging in public sharing usually feels icky and out of integrity.

If you’re someone who occasionally or consistently resists the expectation that you need to be more public in your work, how should you handle this?

Below are a few thoughts. These are shared from the vantage point of someone (me!) who is currently in a phase of moderate resistance to the advice/expectation that I should be public about my work and its value.

My fundamental assumption, however, is that “putting yourself out there” is a good and necessary practice to engage in (for sharing, learning, and career growth).

Considerations when you feel resistant to putting yourself “out there”

Honour your energy cycles

I’ve noticed that there are times I have more extroverted energy and desire to share. These phases vary in length from a few days to months–and their presence and length is not predictable. It depends very much on what is going on in my whole life.

I wish I could claim that I consistently honour my energy, but I don’t. I sometimes push through, I sometimes honour. My advice, however, is to pay attention to these and respect them! That is, rest when rest is needed.

Determine what motivates you

There are initiatives and projects I naturally want to share about. My vague criteria is something along the lines of “this could help someone”. Sometimes, I need to remind myself that even if it could help only 1 person, there is value in sharing.

Your motivations for sharing may be different than mine. If you are experiencing resistance but determine you can’t pull back, consider your “why”.

Notice where you set the bar

More than occasionally, my rational mind says something along the lines of “everyone knows this” or “this work isn’t special/new/” — with the implicit message that _____ isn’t worth sharing or putting out there. Depending on how I feel in the moment, I push back (or not) against that thought.

What thoughts stop you? How can you reframe or think differently about these? How might you question whether the thoughts that stop you are actually even true?

Over to you

Assess where you’re at – both in terms of the expectations you put on yourself and how you’re feeling at the moment. I chose the picture above because it captures how I feel at the moment: “putting myself out there” is like exerting effort and pushing into a stormy sea…(when I’d rather be on sitting on the shore, soaking in the hot sand, and escaping into a good book).

Photo credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexel




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