Even I’m beginning to realise that there are times when it pays to go “undercover”, to fade into the background rather than step forward into the spotlight. Really hard for a natural spotlight-er.

Here are three moments to consider:

When you first arrive

When you first show up – a new role, a new job, a new situation – sometimes the temptation is to take control, make a splash, put your thumbprint on whatever’s going on.

It can be more useful to step back to get a sense of the landscape.

Work on the assumption that not only do you not know what’s really going on – but also, what worked before won’t work in exactly the same way again.

Some questions to ask from the shadows, the sidelines:

  • What’s important, what’s not important?
  • Who’s in my camp, who’s not?
  • Where am I vulnerable?

When you’re making too much noise

If you’re an extrovert, you may need to talk to work out what you’re thinking.

When you take up the space, you’re excluding others. What if you kept quiet this time around?

Here are some questions to help measure the cost of speaking:

  • What am I missing by talking?
  • Who’s not speaking – and what’s being lost?
  • Who matters in the room? And how are they perceiving me right now?

When you’re not sure what’s happening

In the swirl of the moment, when all’s flurry and action and uncertainty, it’s easy to press ever onwards.

This can be a time to step back, to gain perspective on what’s happening.

As you shift from “doing” to “being”, here are some questions that might present themselves:

  • What’s the most important thing to be doing?
  • What’s making me anxious?
  • Why am I holding my breath?
  • What am I not being aware of, not choosing to notice?

“The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.” – Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher

“Naked is the best disguise.” – Jeanette Winterson, British author

“Once I had all the attention, all I had to do was deliver.” – Ethel Merman, American singer