Doubt: The Enemy of Confidence
Confidence is a challenge for all of us. There is always this lingering thought in the back of your head: Am I good enough to make it? But doubt is also a necessary part of who we are. Without doubt, we can have no confidence, and without confidence, we will have no doubt. The two are different sides of the same coin, and they require each other to exist.
The key is to find the perfect balance of doubt and confidence. It’s a very delicate balance that you have to manage on a conscious level. If you let doubt get the better of you, then you’ll be ineffective, weak, and unable to even function. If the balance tips too far to the other side, we become overconfident, and because “confidence is arrogance under control,” we begin to take unmanageable risks.
Usually the greatest problem we have to overcome to realizing our dreams is doubt, so it’s important to learn how to keep it in check. There are three strategies to keep in mind when it comes to overcoming doubt. You have to believe in your mission, you have to collaborate with others, and you have to believe in decisive action, a point of no return.
Believing in your mission is as simple as being passionate about what you do. If you aren’t doing what you love, then you won’t be successful. Sure, we’re often good at things we don’t necessarily like to do, but sooner or later we will fail if we don’t love the work. You have to have a heart for what you are doing. You must find your special Picasso calling and relentlessly follow your mission. Catch a fish in a net and look at how it’s out of its element. Toss it back in the ocean and watch how it comes alive and thrives in harmony. Are you swimming in the right ocean?
Collaboration is important because we need others in order to achieve. The achievement of success is not a solo activity. None of us were made with the thought of being able to do things alone. We are all interconnected with each other through our strengths and weaknesses. It’s natural for one person to fill in the blanks of another person’s experiences. We have to work together to get things done because that is how we are wired. Together we aspire because together we will achieve.
Understanding decisive action offers a valuable side of doubt because it gives you a point of no return. It says once you’re in this deep, you can’t go back. It says that I am already at the center of the forest, and the work required going forward is the same as going backward. We must develop our wisdom to discern the choices. Learn to play chess, build a puzzle, play Monopoly, or write a blog. The more you do, the better you will be at quickly deciding the alternative options and outcomes. Every single day is our future, which is created incrementally. When you get to a certain point in a project, it becomes unwise to turn back. You have to work past your doubts and keep moving forward because quitting is not an option. When quitting ceases to be an option, then success becomes the only possibility. Sometimes we get lucky, and it’s a dash through the finish line. But often we have to pull ourselves and crawl through the finish line. People will do what they want to do, people will make time to do what they want to do, and if we want it bad enough, we will take decisive action.
When I was growing up, I often heard the saying, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” However, that axiom is ineffective. You have to give him a small piece of fish while you teach him how to fish. Otherwise he’ll starve to death before he ever catches his first fish. He must be just hungry enough to be highly motivated to take decisive action.
Every part of our lives starts off like a blank book. But with a passionate mission, collaboration, and decisive action, we begin to sketch a black and white outline of our goals. With perseverance we can convert our outline to a full color reality of our goals. One of our limiting factors is the lack of realization of the infinite possibilities. Consider the game of chess, the oldest skill game developed over 1500 years ago. Using 32 pieces, after three pairs of moves, the possible game outcomes are 10120 . That’s greater than all the hairs on the head of the world population, multiplied by all the grains of sand on the planet, multiplied by all the estimated atoms in the universe. No one has yet calculated the exact number of possible game outputs in chess with its mere 32 pieces. Imagine that we have more than 32 pieces to play with in all aspects of our lives. When you first start on something, you see just a few choices, but as you look deeper, the creative possibilities become truly limitless.
Every stage of a project, a goal, or a dream, has its own defined mission and goals, and doubt can creep in at any one of these stages. Without doubt our victory will not be as sweet, nor will we grow as an individual and become more. Each level of accomplishments gives you the knowledge and skill to move to the next level. But you must harness your doubt, which is only a signal from your brain to be energized, to stay focused on your passionate mission, keep collaborating, and take decisive action before doubt takes a strong foothold.
How hungry are you to finish your project? The hungrier you are, the less doubt will be able to affect you. Just the right amount of confidence will carry you successfully to the finish line.