Who Says You’re Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.


Posted in Career & Learning and tagged , , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Running a marathon is an amazing accomplishment.

    Karin, I wonder what you felt crossing the finish line? I’d love to read a blog about that journey and what you were feeling in training, during the first 5K, the next, the infamous wall that people hit, etc.

    Last week I wrote my 90 something blog post. For years I dragged my feet to the blog starting blocks. Then one day, a friend encouraged me to begin. He said I had experiences and knowledge to share that were of value. I wasn’t so sure.

    The other reason for not starting was the committment, or lack thereof. If I was going to write, it had to be consistent.

    Get busy writing that marathon blog! I can’t wait to read it!

    • Thanks, Steve. Interestingly the real journey was how I felt running the Philly marathon where I was looking to qualify… very intense. I qualified with only 1.5 minutes to spare. Had a vegan gyro this week at the diner. Not bad.

  2. Getting help is great advice. We tend to think we need to do it all ourselves. But even events like running a Marathon still require the support of others. Sometimes it is friends and family who believe in us. Sometimes it is a coach.

    Who was on your team?

  3. Great blog Karin! And congratulations on your marathon accomplishments. As a new runner nearly 40 years ago, I found inspiration to train for and complete 3 marathons from runner turned author, John Bingham. His book, “The Courage to Start” is based on the principles you shared today. People would ask him how he found the strength to complete a marathon and his response was always that the more appropriate question was how he found the courage to start. For me, running the marathons was the reward for the training. Marathon day was party day. Celebration day. Victory day. Preparing for my first marathon, the Friday before the race my friend who had been “coaching” me called to talk…see how I was feeling. “Scared,” I told him. “What if I can’t finish?” That was 15 years ago and I still remember what he said. He told me calmly, “You will finish because you’ve done what you needed to do to get to the start line.”

    So, is fear the void of courage and vice versa? Something to think about!

  4. I’d add- expect your own resistence. You aren’t going to “feel” like doing it. That’s okay, do it anyway. Feeling like attempting something often follows attempting it, not vice versa.

    • Regina. You bring a great point. Dr. Derek Cabrera developed the thinkingbloc approach in which he reveals that we are spending most of our time effortlessly. Instead of focusing on doing and learning to increase our production capacity we tend to spend more time on writing missions and visions. It is only through increasing our capacity that we may reach our vision. I fully concur with your comment.

  5. Karin,
    I really liked your post on Just Starting. I had a dream of writing a book that was finally released last week. I worked on it for over 5 years. It was hard to keep on pressing forward with everyone telling me that I couldn’t do it. Developing the discipline to just keep believing was one of the greatest learnings for me personally. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Karin
    Thank you for this important post. So many people are robbed of their greatness by mind chatter driven resistance and fears. As I read this post, three lines from Steven Pressfeld’s book ‘Do the work’ came to mind.
    1. Start before you are ready
    2. Work, not prepare to work
    3. Dont over think, get started and keep moving

    From my own experiences, momentum indeed has magic and a coach is a good resource to help overcome such resistance

  7. Thanks Karin! I’ve been in a slump lately because I was waiting until things (me) were perfect. Unless I start, I won’t even be good. Thanks for giving my head a shake!

    • Michelle, thanks so much for joining the conversation. We’re never perfectly ready… none of us…. sounds like you’re up to something exciting. Good luck on your start.

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