Banishing the Imposter for International Women’s Day

I love what I do.

I love getting to know my clients and athletes and trying my best to help them achieve their goals in ways that suit their very unique and individual circumstances.

With the fitness industry expanding quickly, everyone knows a PT or a coach but I have always said I can only do this my way.  I try not to compare myself to others (I fail at this) and I invest a lot of time and energy into understanding my athlete; to personalise their training and coaching experience.  It is important to me not to spread myself too thinly and this allows me to really take personalising to the next level…

…Except, how am I a running coach?  A nutrition coach?  A PT?  I do have the relevant and valid qualifications needed but there are lots of others with more prestigious qualifications, more experience or are more successful athletes in their own right…I will get back in my box before I get found out.

I have Imposter Syndrome. This is a term coined by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes (1978) when they found evidence that people remain convinced they don’t deserve the success they have, attributing it to external factors such as luck or good timing rather than hard work, ability or just commitment.

Anyone can succumb to this slightly derailing phenomenon but the evidence suggests women are particularly susceptible to it; apparently we find it hard to recognise our accomplishments due to a lack of confidence…

Mmmm.  This is irritatingly familiar.  And this isn’t confined within a professional scenario; parenting and sports performance can all cause us to feel like imposters.  We worry that our abilities, talents and even our choices might be overestimated by others.

Who the hell are these others?  Do they actually matter?

The trouble with us women (and I know for a fact I’m not speaking just for myself here), we like to think others in a similar profession, running group, parent and toddler group or even those with comparable family dynamics are all getting by far more effortlessly than we are. Clearly social media exacerbates this with endless stories or images of people ‘living their best life’.  It’s not true.  We are all overstretched; juggling internal struggles and insecurities and innumerable other emotional baggage.  We look in the mirror and recite a mantra that tells us we are enough but we don’t believe it.  For what it’s worth, I suspect these  other people are all staring at the mirror in disbelief too. 

So what do we do? How can we help each other?

Ladies, to acknowledge International Women’s Day I have decided to congratulate myself and feel the fear and do it anyway.

I am new to the fitness industry. Fact.  I can’t change that.  But I am committed to constantly learning.  I am dedicated to my athletes and clients.  I am not an elite athlete myself and accept that some athletes looking for a coach will want someone with that experience and that prestige. Does that mean I cannot coach?  That I can’t apply what I have learned and what I know to bring out the best in my athletes and build a credible and good reputation for myself?  Quickly putting my insecurities firmly aside, the answer is NO!

So, if I’m not going to feel intimidated or let my fear of failure stop me from achieving my highest aspirations then neither should you.  I am not ready to settle for mediocrity and I certainly don’t want that for my clients and athletes. 

So for now I will continue to be committed to giving my very best in the ways I know how whilst silently chanting and trying hard to believe ‘I know more than I give myself credit for’.  Because actually I really love a good mantra. 

Happy International Women’s Day!