The life of a health and exercise professional is motivating and rewarding. You have clients and participants paying for your time and knowledge. You have people waiting to hear your thoughts, see the workout you’ve planned and expecting you to motivate them. A captive audience. It requires confidence to do this work and help create change in others. But confidence without self-awareness can lead to an unyielding ego and inhibit your success as a health and exercise professional.
Confidence and Ego: Where’s the Line?
The job of a health and exercise professional requires you to be self-assured, confident in your knowledge of health and wellness, an advocate for others and an example to your clients and community. Clients look to you for education, answers and support. The self-assurance that is required for this field is important for your clients to trust you, but sometimes this self-assurance can grow beyond necessity. Without self-awareness, confidence can morph into egotism. You may find yourself with an ego that seeks to constantly compete with other health and exercise professionals:
- “My group fitness classes are packed; thus, I’m a better fit pro.”
- “I have more clients; therefore, I’m a better fit pro.”
- “I’m in the best shape, so I’m the better fit pro.”
- “I have more experience; therefore, I’m the best fit pro.”
Without even knowing it, ego has interfered with your ability to learn, connect with others and actually inspire change in those around you.
We’ve all known someone with a substantial ego—the type of ego that enters the room before he or she does. The type of ego that makes others feel small. Ego is boastful, self-serving and power seeking. The difference between confidence and ego is an inflated sense of self-importance.
Errors of the Ego
Moving past confidence and into ego can be detrimental to your interactions and career. It can derail the process of growing personally and professionally, ruin relationships and potentially hurt others. Consider these ways an ego is harmful to your career:
Lack of learning opportunities
Ego has been associated with halted personal growth for a number of reasons. High egos can lead us to think we already know it all and thus don’t need to ask further questions or continue to challenge what it is we think we know. We don’t see interactions with others as opportunities for further learning, but instead as people with which we can impart our knowledge. We assume that those with less experience don’t have anything useful to share.
Competing with others
Competition is a part of the any industry. However, it is not always useful to compete with colleagues or peers. Letting position titles, number of Instagram followers or years of experience go to your head may provoke you to say “I’m the better fit pro.” This attitude halts your learning and alienates you from others.
Using Your Confidence
Here are a few tips to check your confidence and ensure you don’t become egotistical.
It’s not about you.
The nature of your role as a health and exercise professional is to help others. The approach to helping your clients and participants should always come from the needs and preferences of the client, rather than your personal desires. Remain client-focused in all aspects of your service to ensure client success.
Demonstrate your competence while staying curious.
Have conviction in your knowledge and confidence in your experience. You have worked hard for your knowledge, skills, and abilities and should share them with pride, yet remain open to new information. Ask questions when you have them and stay curious to keep learning. There are learning opportunities in every experience if you’re looking for them.
Know what you don’t know.
It is not part of your role, nor is it even possible, to know everything. Pretending you do is limiting to yourself and potentially harmful to the client. Stating what you don’t know shows thoughtfulness and confidence.
Learn every day.
People are multifaceted and require you to adapt your skills each time you encounter a new person. It’s important to keep asking questions, challenge what you think you know and recognize the unique experiences of others.
Ditch the ego that alienates clients and other health and exercise professionals and halts the progress of personal growth. Keep the confidence that allows you to lead others with conviction. Stay curious and client focused and know there is always more to learn.