Power and Doubt
“Eisenhower’s doubts about success in the face of a highly-defended and well-prepared enemy led him to consider what would happen if the invasion of Normandy failed. If the Allies did not secure a strong foothold on D-Day, they would be ordered into a full retreat, and he would be forced to make public the message he drafted for such an occasion.”
Very few of us in our everyday lives have to grapple with doubt on a global stage and in the historic proportions that General Eisenhower did just prior to the D-Day invasion. Like possessing courage as it relates to fear, the existence of doubt does not mean that there is a lack of confidence. It quite simply means that we are all human.
The real question is how do we deal with doubt when it rears its inevitable head?
Like Eisenhower, those with real power press through the paralyzing effects of doubt or self-doubt. In fact, they embrace it as a means of providing a balanced view of any given situation.
In his book Good Boss Bad Boss, Robert Sutton wrote “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.”
In considering the above comment I cannot help but believe that the existence and healthy acknowledgement that doubt exists is in and of itself empowering.
So if doubt is inevitable and even healthy, what do you do when you feel the uncomfortable pangs of uncertainty?
I remember reading how successful men and women often suffered from “the imposter trap,” doubting their capabilities and success, often feeling unworthy of the recognition they received. Rather than being overcome by doubt, I faced my fears by researching and knowing the topic about which I would be talking extensively. In addition, I policed my self-talk and made it non-negotiable to beat myself up. Finally, I surrounded myself with a strong network of coaches and mentors who set me straight whenever I began to feel vulnerable or uncertain.
While I will always worry about the business as that’s innate in me, rather than denying feelings of doubt I face them, embrace them and use them as a tool to hone my abilities. As a result, I feel empowered and in power over myself. I may not always be able to change a situation, however; I know that I have the power to choose the attitude to face the situation I’ve walked into.
How do you deal with doubt?