When I began personal training, I was afraid. Afraid of being called out. Afraid of the competition. Afraid of clients and other trainers telling me I wasn’t enough – not experienced enough, not knowledgeable enough, not qualified enough.
Despite having obtained a certified trainer certification, I had no degree, specialized certifications or experience training anyone but myself. I constantly told myself, “I’m not experienced enough, knowledgeable enough, or qualified enough.” Clients won’t want to train with me. Gyms won’t want to hire me.
And like many others, it wasn’t just personal training that I wasn’t good enough for.
As much as I’d like to say this was just intimidation of personal training, this belief bled into my own personal life.
I wasn’t outgoing or confident or charismatic or talkative or sexy enough, so I didn’t have enough friends or a boyfriend.
I wasn’t fit or fast enough, so I had to earn my food and constantly be working on my body. An extra hour at the gym or running that extra mile became more important than going out and doing something fun.
I never did enough at work, in school or in other endeavors. The work was never done. There was always something else, another opportunity to be pursued. Regardless of how many hours I had worked and the thousands I had in savings, I never earned enough. I needed three jobs on top of an internship, and was still looking for other opportunities to make money.
In essence, I never felt good enough. The notion of constantly trying to better myself became a trap, an escape from my own reality that took over my life.
It didn’t just affect my mind. It ruined relationships. I felt like I was never enough for whoever I was with. It took a toll on my body, so much that it became burnout and resistant to all of the stress I was putting it through. It held me back from accomplishing big things, putting myself out there and going the extra mile to truly excel.
All this was simply a product of the trap of constantly telling myself:
I’m not enough.
I’m never enough.
But by telling myself these stories and trapping myself in limiting beliefs, how would I EVER become enough?
This is not a pity post for myself. I realize that I am entirely in charge of my own self worth. No amount of affirmation, praise or encouragement is enough to make you feel like enough. The only person who can make yourself good enough is you. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned.
In any field, it’s far too common to tell ourselves that we’re not qualified enough. To consider ourself an “expert” in any topic is incredibly hard for many people – even those who are constantly pinpointed as experts. Regardless of the degrees, certifications, experience, or “RD” behind our name, there’s always going to be some way we could tell ourselves it isn’t enough. And the thing is, this is the very thing that holds us back.
It’s a fact of reality: there’s always going to be someone more educated, experienced, or knowledgeable than you in any given field… someone out there who you view as a level up. But does that mean that you should sit back and let that keep you from taking action? No way!
If you wait for someone to give you permission, it will never happen. You never need someone else’s permission to take action. So long as you sit back waiting on a green light, you’ll be waiting forever.
The most legendary people throughout history never asked for permission. In fact, many of them had to go against the grain to get what they wanted most out of life. Many were constantly told “you aren’t ______ enough,” giving them every reason not to take action. But they did it anyway. Acting in the face of obstacle, they accomplished the impossible.
So long as you convince yourself you aren’t qualified enough, you never will be.
The thing is, even if we know just sliiightly more on a topic than the person who is asking for our advice, we’re qualified to share what we know. I experienced this when I was asked to give a nutrition presentation to my high school girl’s cross country team this summer. Of course I was super excited and honored to have been asked – thinking “wow, me?!”
And then, almost instantly: I found myself coming up with excuses as to why I was NOT qualified. I’m not a registered dietitian. I don’t have a degree in Nutrition. I can’t recite every vitamin and mineral and explain how it’s processed in the body. I’m no “expert” in the topic. Surely there’s someone better fit to give the presentation. Why ME?
But then, I realized I was being silly – falling into the “not qualified enough” mindset trap. They asked ME because they believed I was qualified – because they wanted ME to deliver the presentation. I had run as part of the team, and could probably relate to them better than any fully grown, 40-year old dietitian could.
I began listing the reasons I was qualified:
-I’m an NCAA runner who has tracked my own nutrition and eats a healthy, balanced diet.
-I’m a certified personal trainer who has helped several clients lose weight and see results by developing healthy habits that will last them a lifetime.
-I’ve taken higher-level nutrition courses and constantly research the topic, day in and day out.
By no means am I an expert, but…. I might know just slightly more than they do, and that makes me qualified to share what I do know. Because even if I just teach them one new thing, it’s still more than they knew before!
Of course, “qualfied” is such a vague term – as is “expert.” How do you define an expert? What makes someone qualified? We spend so much time obtaining certifications, degrees, and Phd’s, forgetting that experience is the best educator. Even with all the certs in the world, someone still may not be qualified in one’s eyes as they are to another. I may never be qualified to someone when it comes to fitness, nutrition, mindset, what-have-you – but to another, I’m already the expert.
You’re actually doing others a disservice by NOT sharing what you know. One of my career role models (ok, #1), Jill Coleman (who I consider an expert in fitness, nutrition, mindset AND business) would tell you to authentically embrace your inner mindset struggles and use your experience to help others by sharing it. People relate to knowing you’re just another human like them. It’s better to admit that you don’t know it all than to pretend that you do.
So enough saying: Who am I to be ______? Actually, who are you NOT to be?
Never forget: The best education is experience.
Take action. Learn as you go. Immerse yourself in the process. Ready, Fire, Aim.
I initially wrote this post on not feeling qualified enough as a fitness professional, but then realized that it was an issue far deeper than that. It was a mindset trap of never feeling good enough in any aspect of my life.
Regardless of what your excuse is, saying “I’m not ____ enough” is the biggest disservice we can do for ourselves, our careers, our relationships, and ultimately, our lives.
Whatever your mindset traps may be, I challenge you: Take out a pen and a piece of paper. Title it “I am not _______ enough. Fill it in with all of the lies you have told yourself about not being good enough, fit enough, qualified enough, etc. All of the mindset struggles you allow to take over. Then, do something different. This time, go through each one and think about why it isn’t true. What would those closest to you say to these? Next to each one, write down why you ARE enough. The reasons you ARE qualified enough, fit enough, pretty enough, successful enough, confident enough, and so on! This list is much stronger, truer and more real than any of the lies we tell ourselves.
Whoever you are, however much you do,
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.