It doesn’t matter how sure you are of your purpose and your pursuit, you’re going to experience seasons of doubt. I’m not talking about doubting the likeliness of events or results, but doubting your very ability to succeed. This is dangerous.
Doubt comes down to a lack of trust; in our vision, in ourselves, in God’s provision… If we truly believe what we’re doing is what we’re supposed to be doing, then what reason do we have to doubt our success? Still, we all do it. No leader is immune.
Where does that doubt come from? Is it completely internal, or do other people ‘inject’ doubt into our lives?
Externally Inspired Self-Doubt
- Horror Stories - You just heard about your next door neighbor Ricky’s cousin who tried to open a hair salon with his mother and ended up shutting their doors after 3 months. Now you use their failure to rationalize that you’re new business idea is likely to experience the same fate.
- Nay-Sayers - Other leaders in your industry think you’re new initiative is a little too ‘cutting edge.’ You’re starting to think you’re losing touch with your market and decide to dial back and get a little closer to the status quo. Who were you to be innovative?
- Comparison - Your brother developed a software tool at age 15 and is now the CIO of an uber-successful software firm. You feel like his achievement is rubbed in your face daily. That level of success is seemingly unattainable, so why even bother?
Internally Inspired Self-Doubt
- Limiting Beliefs – You’ve tried starting a business, but its not growing as fast as you’d like. You’re inclined to throw in the towel because you don’t think you’re good enough to make it work.
- Negative Internal Dialogue – Every time you go to do something, you tell yourself you can’t. You try to pick up the phone and make your sales calls, but that little voice in the back of your head tells you not to pick up that phone.
- Experience – You’ve failed before. You picked yourself up and decided to move on, but can’t shake the memory of that past failure. Each new decision is tainted with timidity and the fear of failing again persistently looms in the back of your head.
How Do I Overcome Self-Doubt?
The same way you eradicate self sabotage.
It’s all about identifying specific lies and combating them with specific truth. I’ve listed out some common roots of doubt that I’ve heard below and refuted them with some specific truth.
Lie: “I’m not talented enough.”
Truth: No one is better suited to achieve your vision than you are.
Lie: “I can’t do this because the competition said I couldn’t.”
Truth: They probably don’t know what they’re talking about.
Lie: “I’ll never be as successful as him.”
Truth: If you live your life through the lens of someone else’s experience, you’ll never be good enough.
Lie: “I don’t have enough experience.”
Truth: You can only gain experience by DOING. If you continually sit things out, you’ll never get that experience that you ‘need.’
Lie: “I’ve got nothing special to offer. I’ve got nothing to say.”
Truth: You’ve got yourself and your ideas to offer. That’s more than enough.
Lie: “I’ve always been a failure. I’m destined to fail again.”
Truth: Failure is not your identity. We don’t get the luxury of knowing or defining our destiny. You’re only a failure if you quit trying.
We all experience doubt from time to time. I don’t propose to reduce the issue down to a simple mental exercise, but it is important to be specific and intentional in your battle against it. Doubt, just like fear, will color every decision and keep us from boldly moving forward.
Don’t let it.