The 5 Positive Powers of Self-Doubt

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If you grapple with self-doubt, keep reading. If you don’t grapple with it, you’re dangerous.

Experts sing, “Believe in yourself,” However, unquestioned self-belief produces self-serving leaders who won’t adapt.

Tom Petty captures the experience of many in, “Saving Grace,” when he sings, “You’re confident but not really sure.”

Confident but not sure is better than blind belief.

Self-doubt has its benefits. Robert Sutton in, Good Boss Bad Boss, says, “The best bosses dance on the edge of overconfidence, but a healthy dose of self-doubt and humility saves them from turning arrogant and pigheaded. Bosses who fail to strike this balance are incompetent, dangerous to follow, and downright demeaning.”

Move forward in spite of doubt.
Worry if you’re not worried.

Believe in yourself enough to bring self-doubt with you into decisions and commitments. “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it’s not without doubt but in spite of doubt,” Rollo May.

Fear of making mistakes is healthy when it raises intensity, motivates preparation, and inspires vigilance. It’s unhealthy when it paralyzes you.

Press into doubt with deadlines.
An effective deadline is a mini-crisis.

Give yourself reasonable time to explore options and then pull the trigger. “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand,” Raymond Chandler.

Focus more on the process – what’s next – and less on final outcomes.

The 5 positive powers of healthy self-doubt:

  1. Motivates preparation. Useful self-doubt doesn’t paralyze it motivates.
  2. Humbles the heart.
  3. Opens the mind.
  4. Invites others in.
  5. Builds confidence in others. You’re trustworthy if challenges give you pause.

Why are those who sing the song of self-belief so popular? Because everyone has self-doubt. Don’t lose it, use it.

How can leaders use self-doubt as a tool rather than an obstacle to their leadership?

When has self-doubt gone too far?