Feel Like A Fraud?

Susan Donnelly overcoming Imposter Syndrome in a badass t-shirt.

After more than 30 hours, 25000 feet of climbing, an equal amount of descending, and 100 miles, I crossed the Double Top 100 finish line first, ahead of the three other finishers - all men.

I'd worked hard and had a great run. I was proud of an overall win, but even prouder of the effort. I earned this and it felt great! 

Plus, I had a rare opportunity I might never have again to be able show other women that it was possible to win outright...even at 54. I couldn’t wait to share that!

But the moment the glow dimmed, these thoughts crept in:

“It was a fluke.”

“This is embarrassing - I’m not close to being in the same league as elite women that win races outright.”

When I’d tell someone I’d won overall, their next question was, “How many runners were there?” Like they knew I was trying to pull a scam.

“What on earth gave me the idea that I’m good enough to be proud of this?”

It would have been easier to be second.

Because like so many people - women especially - I suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

The term was coined in a study to describe the phenomenon of women who are successful, but don’t feel successful. They think their success is a fluke due to good luck, and doesn’t have anything to do with their ability or effort. While it’s far more common in women, it applies to men too.

Imposter Syndrome will keep you small and stop you from exploring your capability.

So what can we do about it? Are we doomed to walk around talking a good talk on the outside while we beat our “fraud” selves up on the inside?

Thankfully, no. 

While you may never get over it completely - Michele Obama confessed just last week that she still faces it - even a few simple strategies can help you handle it better.

For example, what would happen if you got in the habit of accepting praise without minimizing it, excusing it, or explaining it away? Allowing myself to breathe and say a simple, heartfelt “thank you” to a compliment sounds incredibly trivial but was a huge help to me. 

And what if you stopped comparing yourself to others, gave up perfectionist tendencies, and other long-term practices that feed this syndrome? 

I've won two more 100-milers overall since this first one and the mindset work I did after the first one made the next ones far easier to enjoy. 

So look, If you’re an ultrarunner, you’re already a high-achiever type who’s likely to encounter Imposter Syndrome sooner or later. It doesn’t matter if you’re first, middle, or last. You’re doing something above and beyond the norm. 

Don’t let it limit you.

Start building the mental muscles you need to deal with it now, so you can enjoy that win, PR, or finish, and keep on exploring your capability.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

P.S. - If you want help beating issues like Imposter Syndrome, especially if you’re planning to level up in 2019, I’ve got an opening for a 1:1 client. If you’re interested, email me here to set up a free 30-minute mini-session to try it out. Don’t let mindset blocks hold you back from your best year ever!