Here’s a fun fact about self doubt: no body is immune from it. Not even that has-it-all cheerleader you envied in high school, not your uber-successful friend who built an empire from nothing, not your colleague down the hall who seems to get promoted faster than you can say the word.
Some famous people have suffered from self-doubt as well. Lady Gaga once talked about how she “sometimes feels like a loser kid in high school”. And what about Arianna Huffington calling her that negative voice in her head her despicable roommate. Most people would tell you to quell self doubt altogether. But here’s what nobody tells you: self-doubt isn’t all that bad if you learn how to think about it the right way.
So, if you are about to crush that “negative” feeling in your stomach, here’s what you should know.
1. Self Doubt Helps You Produce Better Work
Over-confident people hardly give it their all. They are never open to the possibility that their work could be susceptible to errors. Self doubt is what keeps us on our toes, making us run back to the spreadsheet, our laptops, the drawing board, or that presentation. Viewing our work through an objective eye and a fresh perspective inevitably strengthens the finished product.
Approaching an idea from all conceivable angles and poking holes in a concept will help you uncover the smallest drawbacks and perfect your solution. However, unless you create parameters or set a deadline for yourself, you are bound to get stuck in a vicious cycle. For instance, once you have done five revisions on your business plan, it’s probably time to let go of the reigns and share it with someone you trust.
Sometimes you need alternating periods of both self doubt and self-confidence to create your best work. In some situations, you need to be your most confident self to navigate around tough spots or crank out work amidst tough deadlines. On the other hand, sometimes you need bouts of self-doubt to push you to analyze your work critically and look for blind spots, or garner the motivation needed to start from scratch or take corrective actions.
2. Self-Doubt Keeps You Learning and Growing
While people must tell you how you need to be confident in your own skin, doubting yourself every once in a while, pushes you towards betterment. If you think that you know it all, where would you get the motivation to pursue growth and learning.
For instance, if you are unsure about a strategy, you could ask a co-worker for help, or if you possess questionable authority on a subject, you could take a class on it.
The day you stop striving for betterment is the day your skills become stagnant. There’s nothing like a little dose of self-doubt to spur you to pick up some extra training, work just a little harder or put in more efforts towards a task. In this way, self-doubt actually helps you move forward in your career, feel confident, and opens doors to new possibilities that you didn’t know before.
3. You Won’t Hesitate To Ask For Help
Great work is usually the product of teamwork. Instead of working in a vacuum, self doubt actually enables us to ask for support, advice, and help. Letting other people in on your work offers a fresh pair of perspective and leads to alternatives we hadn’t considered before. When you ask for help, people can ease your worries and take some responsibilities off your hands.
However, occasionally consulting with someone whose perspective you value when in doubt is not the same thing as the need for constant validation. Assess why you need help and decide whether doing so is the right call.
4. You’ll Pursue Concrete Goals
When I set up my own company, I was constantly riddled by doubts, which pushed me to create real targets. I was honest with myself from day one that my business had no chance of surviving until I put all my energy and time into it. This is when I set a “quit by” date. Even though I found myself pushing it out a couple of times, I was making progress and knew that I would eventually get there.
It might be hard to believe but self-doubt takes you to the finish line. The more you doubt yourself, the harder you will work to quell those doubts. And the more you accomplish, the more you will start believing that your big goals are indeed achievable.
5. You’ll consider Plan B – All The Way To Z
How can you find alternatives when you stop asking the right questions. If you have your doubts about a marketing strategy, that nagging worry will have you striving to find more options. Doubt stokes creativity like nothing you have ever known. Again, the key is to establish limits and make sure the blaze doesn’t get out of control. Be it an objective data threshold, a specific number of alternatives, or a timeline, you can’t allow your doubts to take the driver’s seat.
6. From Self-Doubt To Self-Awareness
You can’t be successful until you repeatedly ask questions of yourselves. Self-doubt is a double-edged Sword. When you use the right side, it becomes a powerful tool for self-awareness.
Have you heard of Bill Gates’s popular “Think weeks”. Occasionally he would retire for seven days in an aloof cabin, away from the hustle and bustle of running Microsoft, and used the time to plan, read, dream, and just think. This is an amazing habit of highly influential people that allows entrepreneurs and founders to tap into their deepest ideas and even doubts.
You can do the same. Each year, take a week off, go on a nice relaxing vacation, and while you are lounging idly on the beach, taking a stroll in a winery, or just gazing at the stars, ask yourself questions like: “Do I fear my doubts?”, “Where am I compromising?”, “or what could I do without fear?” The answers would surprise you. The questions you ask yourself when you are on your own, define the type of person you will become.