Most good instructors have self-doubt from time to time. Usually, I see self-doubt in conscientious new instructors who are insecure in their knowledge. That’s OK, even good. They may be insecure but they are open to learning.
But for some, self-doubt can be paralyzing. Self-doubt can rob the fun from teaching and put an instructor in a state of near-constant fear.
In fact, there is even a name for it. It is called the imposter syndrome: the secret feeling among competent professionals that they are not good enough to hold their profession.
I help train new instructors at the Des Moines, Iowa, YMCA and I frequently see some self-doubt play out in the fears of new instructors. These instructors, fresh from certification, often suddenly realize how much they don’t know. These feelings include a fear of performing before a class, self-doubt about the particulars of teaching, and insecurity about their knowledge of the underlying exercise science.
While self-doubt is most obvious in new instructors, I also see it in experienced instructors. An experienced instructor might feel that their classes are getting stale or that they might not live up to the expectations of some students in their class. Sometimes this is the root cause for those instructors who resort to contraindications. They are trying to hide their insecurity by diverting the students’ attention.
Classes must be led with confidence in order for them to be effective and fun. But what if the instructor isn’t feeling confident? What do we do to manage our imposter syndrome and quiet those voices in our heads telling us that we don’t know enough and that we aren’t good enough?