Defeat Doubt & Exceed Expectations – An Interview with Shante Little

Shante trackside, representing her newest sponsor, Oiselle.
British 400m Hurdler, Shante Little posing trackside, representing her newest sponsor, Oiselle.


Country: Great Britain

Discipline: 400m Hurdles

Notable Achievements: 16x All-American, 5 school records, National D3 400mH Record, 2x National 400m Champion

PB: 56.69s

Previous PB (2014): 58.51s

I have been blessed to have such favourable support of my dreams. The fact that others have shared my vision, and encouraged me through their belief that I can do anything I set my mind to, keeps me going through every adversity. I have often been told I have the potential for greatness.

So, when Shante speaks, I am speechless. What do you mean they told you ‘you’re not good enough?’

You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That’s what makes you a winner.” (Venus Williams)

How to defeat doubt and exceed expectations

Shante describes herself as ‘very bold, and very blunt’. ‘I don’t sugar-coat anything.’ Honestly, I was put at ease by her refreshing realness, and as she daringly exposes her vulnerabilities and humbly highlights her strengths, you will see as I did, how truly likeable and inspirational she is.

Step 1: Self-Motivation

We all have unique characteristics relevant to helping us thrive; we just need to find them, and capitalise on them to grow. Shante is no different. Her self-motivation makes her perfectly suited for success.

Smiling before a grueling weight room session
Smiling before a grueling weight room session

For instance, when Shante first met her college coach, Dave Cusano, she asked ‘how are you gonna make me a national champion?’ She admits, ‘I don’t know what made me ask that. I don’t know who I thought I was.’ But thankfully she did; thankfully her heart spoke before her brain had time to fearfully engage with the boldness of her request. And although Cusano was ‘absolutely pivotal’ to her career, it was of course her own audacity that motivated him to ‘inspire’ and to ‘commit’ to her. Confessing he would never have recruited her, Shante proved his initial doubts about her wrong, setting clear goals that she pursued wholeheartedly.

Shante always dares to ask the right questions, led by her motivation ‘to see how fast I can go and how far I can go.’ When Andreas Behm responded to her WAC application, it wasn’t with the positive response she had hoped for. No doubt framed with tact and gentle dismissal, ‘he told me straight up that I wasn’t very good.’ But, ever the motivated individual, she asked ‘well what do you need to see over the next month or two to convince you?’

Courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.’ (Meg Cabot)

Shante frequently rejects rejection. Maybe it is because she hears the word so often that she is no longer phased by it. But by refusing to accept the ‘no’, she seeks opportunity to push her limits, exceed expectations, and successfully gained her place at the WAC.

Step 2: Change your mental

'There's an opportunity for something big to happen.'
‘There’s an opportunity for something big to happen.’

Shante approaches each race with the mindset that ‘there’s an opportunity for something big to happen,’ which gives her the mental readiness to welcome greatness when it arrives. Her PB (personal best) race this year ended with ‘relief and contentment’ because to finish with the absolute certainty that you have done your best on the day is essential for growth in any sphere of life.

Shante is wise beyond her years, and responds to life’s struggles and disappointments in a very astute manner. She identifies her ‘mental approach’ to ‘the pressure that I put on myself’ as her main limitation at this moment. Yet, even when she doesn’t run as fast as she wants – after beating herself up and momentarily falling into her old patterns of self-deprecation, defining herself by her ‘average’, ‘trash’ performances of previous years (she’s human, after all!) – she flips her negative self-talk around. Shante’s awareness is key to establishing an unwavering positive self-image, essential to both her career and life development.

There is a different path for everyone, and everyone has their own spectrum; just because one person is here right now doesn’t mean that you won’t get there. It just means that’s not your path right now.’

So follow Shante’s lead. Don’t allow yourself to be talked out of pursuing your dreams. Defeat self-doubt, and keep it moving!

Step 3: Inspire others: ‘In life you have to be of service.’

‘Everything kind of leads up to the Olympic Games, but I really don’t feel like that’s the end point.’

When she speaks about her desire to effect change, Shante’s words resonate so powerfully because of their authenticity. Shante tells us to ‘spread a message,’ but what she really means is to spread your message. Having learned from personal experience, she wants to empower and educate young girls before they make the same mistakes she did.

‘I went through hell in middle school and high-school. I had zero self-esteem. And I didn’t have anyone to tell me that okay you don’t need this and you don’t need to be doing this, and that you’re enough by yourself, and so that’s a huge thing.’

Throughout her school years, Shante tells me: ‘It was standout athletes continuing to stand out; it was never anyone who worked themselves into greatness.’ She didn’t have the guidance, nor the inspirational figure to follow, but she can be a guide and mentor for others. Breaking barriers of her own and others’ low expectations and unbelief, she relentlessly pursues her desires daily – one hurdle at a time (literally and figuratively)!

Shante wants to empower and educate young girls before they make the same mistakes she did.
Shante wants to empower and educate young girls before they make the same mistakes she did.

Her mistakes and the adversities she has faced give her the credence and sincerity to spread this message, and to not only be heard, but to be understood, related to, and produce a positive change in the lives of those she touches. And to fulfil her ultimate mission, defeating the doubters and exceeding expectations is integral. She knows her ‘end point’, and, knowing Shante, she won’t stop until she reaches it. Take a leaf out of her book and do the same!

For every woman, daughter, wife, mother, sister… check out Shante’s recent project, championing ‘women and girl’s voices’:  

P.S. Although Shante has proven that so far she can excel despite the doubters, I’m sure she will be the first to admit the benefits of receiving support to live her dreams. Having the help and guidance of the WAC coaches and therapy team, the funding she receives on her site, and hopefully now the support of you, the readers, she can keep running fast and inspiring others.  So, If you like her story, and would like to keep up to date on her progress, follow Shante on Twitter here, and visit her page to financially back her!

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