This post was inspired by my lovely writer friend, Clare Potter, who called me up to say how much she had enjoyed reading my posts. I confided that I didn’t feel very inspirational that day, I felt like an imposter.
I’d been grappling with negativity that afternoon. She reassured me that this is what makes me so good at my job, “You understand and you can empathise”, she said. “You work through stuff, you are learning and you walk your talk.” My heart smiled, she is wise.
So this blog is a more personal one, which I’m writing tentatively with fear of being judged as an imperfect expert. But what type of expert do you want to follow anyway? Someone who has studied and knows information, or someone who lives and leads their work?
As a mindset coach, I love helping and equipping others to overcome personal challenges and blocks. This was what attracted me to my chosen career, and has driven my passion for studying and working with minds and bodies for over 20 years. Knowing this, people expect me to be sorted and unbreakable and many give me a hard time when I get frustrated (usually in the gym). “You’re supposed to be a mind-set coach!” they say.
But what they don’t realise is that mindset is not about being fake happy all of the time. It’s not about pretending that everything is ok, or avoiding challenges and staying in your comfort zone. For me, the skills that I have developed have enabled me to take on more challenges with an open mind and a positive attitude. They help me to grow and learn through tough and testing challenges. So, yes there may be a few tears and screams along the way and I’m okay with that.
Mind-set is not stable or unchanging, and it can be context dependent. I don’t know anyone who has a constant sunny outlook and no problems. I think people would associate me with positivity, yet I push myself hard, and just like others, I suffer and give myself a hard time when I ‘fail’.
I used to hide this from those around me, for fear of being ‘found out’ but now I’m open about my feelings, and if I’m not happy, I don’t pretend that I am. Personally, I think it’s important for people to see that I’m an imperfect and evolving human who is working things out- in the same way you are.
The thing is that, we fail and we learn when we push ourselves hard, and I’m always learning something new. I have a learning difficulty, which makes that more challenging at times, and I don’t grasp things easily. I need to repeat and practice things more than others appear to. I often need to find different ways to understand and remember.
Learning is one of the main sources of both my joy and my frustration, yet, these struggles have led me to develop many transferable strategies in my life. It’s what makes me unique. I’m creative and flexible and I’m not afraid of effort. I’m down to earth and practical and honest in my teaching. I practice what I preach and I use my toolkit to adapt my thinking and get into my best mindset through any challenges.
I know what it feels like to feel confused and uncertain and I hope that makes me an empathetic coach and resourceful teacher. I use the techniques that I teach through my own athlete struggles and I know that they work. I aim to empower and be a positive role model, rather than be an expert that you’d put up on a pedestal.
I know for some they might misconstrue this vulnerability as a lack of expertise. Yet I’d rather be honest and have integrity, in a super groomed, filtered world of unreal ‘experts’.
We are told that it’s ok to fail, but how many experts show how they are failing? Are they taking their own medicine and walking their talk? If they are not failing they are not learning, so how can they truly empathise and help you to change, learn and grow?
Expertise is not developed through perfection, only endeavour.