Have you told yourself that you’re not a real runner because you don’t look like one?
Or you can’t do triathlons because you’re not athletic?
Not a cyclist because you don’t own the right bike?
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
You don’t have to run a marathon to call yourself a real runner. You don’t have to take part in organized races to call yourself an athlete. In fact, there doesn’t have to be a formal definition or qualifications for swimming, cycling, or running.
Just because you think you don’t look like the stereotypical endurance athlete, doesn’t mean you can’t do any of these activities.
So what’s happening here?
It’s the fear of not being good enough, which is paralyzing enough to stop anyone from pursuing big goals.
We think we don’t have what it takes and that people will discover we’re just faking it.
We worry we’re not up to the challenge of pushing ourselves.
And, we point to our mistakes as proof we’re not athletes.
We’ll say things like: “If I get dropped on group rides, I can’t really be a cyclist.” “If I feel my legs and lungs hurting and it’s difficult, it means I’m not cut out to run.”
You might think these thoughts go away after you’ve completed your first triathlon or after you’ve run several half-marathons.
But, that’s not true.
The fear of not being good enough plague those who’ve been at it for years, with many races and other accomplishments under their belt.
It’s because every training session or race is new and you wonder if you’re 1) sane and 2) capable of completing it. You must prove again that you’re up to the challenge, which magnifies the fear of not being good enough.
And for the successes? Success just attributed to mere luck.
If you don’t believe you should be here, how will you convince anybody else?”
How to get over the fear of not being good enough
Why you shouldn’t focus on performing but instead focus on honing your skills
Focus on gaining skills and honing your technique – whether it’s cornering, incorporating hill work, or perfecting swim strokes.
Here’s why that’s important.
When you’re focused on performing, it creates an intense pressure to execute things perfectly. There are no room for mistakes. And when, for example, you’re not hitting your paces, you become hyper aware that you’re still not as good as want to be.
But, when you emphasize getting better over performing, any frustration from pushing yourself becomes part of the process.
The single most important question to get over your fear of not being good enough
Sometimes, getting a different perspective is all we need to get out of our heads.
The advice we give others gets us to focus on the most important things and reduces the fear of not being good enough.
So, for clarity, ask yourself this one simple question:
“What would you tell a training partner who’s having these same thoughts?”
What specific advice would you give? You might point out specific improvements – how you’ve felt more strength on hills, or how there’s been a strong habit of consistent, quality training sessions.
The antidote to the fear of not being good enough? Focusing on small improvements and a different perspective.
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Everyone Suffers from Imposter Syndrome – Here’s How to Handle It, Harvard Business Review
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip Heath, Dan Heath