As I prepare to return to St. George for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in a couple weeks I am wrestling with some same ‘ole imposter thoughts. Will I race well amongst the best in the world? Will I show up to what I am capable of? Have I invested enough in my training? Do I know enough about the course, the race, etc? 

It likely doesn’t help that my May full Ironman in the same location was also made a WC event (after I had signed up, not qualified)… and that the run was quite a humbling trip on the struggle bus

As I gently remind myself that this is a new day, a different experience, one that I did qualify for, I have to be careful as to not let the pendulum swing toward covering up my insecurities with pride. So, this week’s real life, real time struggle is how to show up as humbly confident

About five weeks ago I decided that I was not interested in leading virtual cycling this winter. While I loved doing it in the past, I realized I was craving human contact and missed leading fitness opportunities in person. I also saw a huge need in my local athletes to focus heavily on building a solid strength foundation in the post/pre-season in order to stave off injuries, maintain lean muscle mass, and ultimately get faster and stronger. 

Without too much thinking, I reached out to a longtime friend and very knowledgeable trainer/gym owner with interest in “dusting off” my personal training cobwebs and returning to strength coaching. I saw a need. I felt truly led to step into it. It made me excited. 

But… then reality set in. Although I am confident in many aspects of my skillset, there were other things that I wanted to learn. I knew I would need to ask questions to fully serve participants. I would have to be humble to a process. Although I love to learn, it also goes against my controlling nature to expose what I don’t know. To be vulnerable while simultaneously relying on expertise, capability, and experience. To be willing to embrace the daily struggle to try to “figure it all out” as to not be exposed. I am thankfully aware of my longtime tendencies. When I come back to the present moment I can find peace in believing that I don’t have to know “everything” in order to be good at my craft.

I can be humble and confident. 

Guess what? Opening up to the process has been absolutely worth it. I am excited to give my athletes what they need. I am happy to connect with friends and also with new athletes and gym members. I am grateful to have such an amazing mentor who knows my flaws, but also trusts me and my expertise. It is another testament to the importance of remaining open and curious, one I will take with me to Saint George. 

You might truly never act outwardly “prideful” and therefore immediately reject this message. As you see here, I don’t see it often in myself or others as a very obvious and visible unwillingness to learn, a rejection of considering other’s expertise, or in a boastful, arrogant approach to life. I experience my own pridefulness in the form of avoidance. If I don’t think I will be good at something, or don’t have enough information, or will be exposed for what I don’t know… I will be too proud to try. Or I will do all I can to gather as much information quickly in a panicked fashion.  (I am guessing many of you can resonate with this kind of thinking). 

This holds us back. Pride (boastful or quietly protective), is often driven by poor self worth and shame. We feel so badly about ourselves or so uncomfortable in a situation that we come off as superior. We “puff ourselves up” in an effort to hide our flaws. Or, we do everything to keep all uncertainty hidden. (“I don’t want to try that anyway.” “That’s not me.” “I don’t have time.”)

When I think of places and circumstances in my life where I am truly confident, I see how humility comes easily. I can share parts of me and wisdom without needing to prove anything, or compare to others. I can open up to my flaws and also believe in my wisdom (exactly what I try to do here weekly). 

So, how can we cultivate humble confidence instead of leaning into pridefulness… or maybe even more often—avoidance?

Here are a few quick tips: 

  • Remain open to feedback. You can know so much and still learn. (Note to self- even coaches need to remain coachable.) 
  • Embrace spirituality to stay grounded. Consider the importance of peace and love for all of humanity, not only for yourself. 
  • Practice gratitude. 
  • Be open to thinking differently. Being humble involves always looking for more knowledge and deeper experiences in order to see the entire picture better. Even experts benefit from seeing the “other side.”
  • Dream. Do it scared. Jump in head first. Take a leap of faith. Be vulnerable. You get my point. 
  • Live into your potential. This is a big one. Being humble does not mean shrinking yourself, or worrying that you will be seen as someone living from a prideful place. Know your worth and live in a place of opportunity of what can be.   
  • Be present (shocking, I know). Listen to others. 

I am not suggesting that everything we do must be hard. Don’t ignore the confident part of this message. What I want you to hear is that you don’t have to have all of the answers to move forward. You can be humble to the process yet confident that you will seek out what you don’t know. And confident that you still have much to learn. 

It is exciting. 

I am pretty confident that I will continue to default to being controlling, which will tempt me to pridefully conceal all of the things I don’t know. My humble hope that with time I will get more even more excited to learn with an open heart and less with the panic that can come with trying to make sure no one sees my flaws. 

Which is funny to write, as I am sure many of you see many of my flaws anyway. We are never as good at hiding them as we think.

Cheers to staying humble,