Overcoming Self-Doubt

Why is it so easy to push someone else’s agenda, and so hard to push yours? Why do we work ourselves to the bone in the pursuit of a company strategy, but find it hard to even get started on our goals?

One of the reasons (among many I’m sure, as I neglected to get a psychology degree), is the creeping, nagging spectre of self-doubt.

Doubt plays an important role in our lives, forcing us to stop and ask questions. Self-doubt, is not quite the same; it has the potential to strip us of our confidence as we over-examine our abilities and turn those abilities into an imagined ‘lack thereof.’ So, how do we counter self-doubt? 

I have come to realise it is even more pertinent as an entrepreneur. Many of us spend years of our lives in school, working for tangible evidence of our worth (i.e., degrees); we then join the workforce collecting every positive review and savouring each moment of praise. We all live for the moment of hearing positive association with our name from our CEO’s lips. But what happens when you are the CEO? 

While I can remember moments of: ‘…do I belong in this room?’ in the corporate world, more often than not, I was invited to be there. A quick moment of reflection turns that self-doubt into a moment of praise: ‘…someone thought I was important enough to be here.’ As an entrepreneur, you’re always ‘inviting’ yourself to be somewhere – pitching to a new client, networking, forcing your agenda, all of it without the corporate safety net. Especially if your business is new (and new is relative, at 4 years old, The Portal still feels new, and let’s not talk about The Xchange, at just under 3), EVERYTHING feels outside of your comfort zone.

Especially in the recent past, I have been forced to confront self-doubt. After being invited to form a task-force within a charitable organization, with people I consider to have way more experience than me, I wondered, “why me?” The doubt takes over, negative thoughts, despite the fact that I’ve been wanting to get involved with a charity, despite the fact that I have driven strategy and provided valuable insights throughout my career. 

The fact is, I have been a part of some AMAZING projects, both from a corporate and an entrepreneurial standpoint. Even some failures have allowed me to learn and grow – making me a smarter person; at least knowing to avoid those same pitfalls. AND, even if I didn’t have these great experiences and projects, don’t I deserve to be a part of things that are new to me? (FYI, I hope you have been hearing my voice reading this paragraph to you in a crescendo…)

In moments of self-doubt, we have to learn to reflect on our accomplishments. We also have to remind ourselves that we deserve the opportunity to learn and, maybe sometimes fail. We should also have the self-awareness to recognize when we truly don’t belong, (i.e., I should not accept an opportunity to perform surgery, as I don’t hold a medical degree,). Self-awareness is the counterbalance to self-doubt, and is the conclusion of our moments of reflection.

I’ve used this Dr. Seuss quote before: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” In moments of self-doubt, reflect on the experiences that have made you, YOU.