I’m not sure if there’s a person alive who never experiences self-doubt but if there is, I’m yet to meet her. It seems to be an unavoidable component of the human experience; affecting all of us in different ways, to different extents, in different situations, while producing a range of different outcomes. Over the years I’ve worked with a diverse cross section of humanity who, to the casual observer, might seem to be a highly confident and capable, if not downright fearless, group of people. Policemen, professional speakers, TV personalities, entrepreneurs, elite athletes, psychologists, soldiers and many more.
But then things aren’t always as they seem.
There’s the fearless soldier who puts his life on the line without hesitation but when given the responsibility of talking to an audience of thirty school kids about his job… is a bundle of nerves and self-doubt. There’s the seemingly super-confident professional speaker who engages, amuses and enthralls her audience for an hour and then spends the next four hours stressing about whether or not they liked her. It happens. I’ve heard. And finally, there’s the funny, popular, charismatic dude who, away from the approving crowd, is overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy.
And while the idea of overcoming self-doubt sounds like a reasonable and logical enough goal on the surface (you may have noticed the plethora of books, courses and programs offering a range of ‘solutions’), with a little digging, observing and conversing with others, it becomes apparent that the likelihood of any of us living an existence totally devoid of self-doubt is pretty much… zero.
Why then do we do it?
Why do we invest so much time and energy (and often, money) trying to eradicate something that seems to be a very normal and (most likely) unavoidable part of being us? You. Me. Is there a better way? A smarter way? A healthier way?
I think so.
When it comes to the process of building our best life (you know the one), could there be a more intelligent, realistic and empowering question than the “how do I conquer my self-doubt” one?
What about this one…
“Is it possible to make courageous decisions, do courageous things, take chances and produce amazing results while still being predisposed to bouts of self doubt?”
Of course it is.
Welcome to my life.
Sure we might tone it down over time (a little or a lot) but as long as you and I have the capacity to fear, to stress and to over-think, that old emotional anchor ain’t going anywhere.
If the absence of self-doubt was a prerequisite for success, I would never have written a book, hosted a radio show, opened a gym, worked on TV, spoken to a single audience, coached an athlete, gone to university (at 35) or created this blog. No, I’d still be sitting on the couch hoping my shit would somehow work itself out.
When it comes to the challenge of self-doubt, maybe the intelligent goal is not to overcome it but rather, to create our best life despite it?