Do you suffer bouts of self-doubt that leave you feeling like a fraud, scared you’ll be found out?
If so, then you’ll be very relieved to know you are most definitely not alone. This sense of inadequacy strikes achievers and entrepreneurs everywhere – and yes, it can be brutal.
A bit like stage fright, self doubt can make you freeze up and feel stuck. Yet, this experience is very much part of being human and is entirely normal if you’re someone who dares to dance with challenges beyond your hard-wired sense of safety.
Of course, being an entrepreneur has everything to do with leaping towards fear and off cliff-edges without having yet learnt to fly.
Case in point:
Sir Richard Branson had his beginnings as a dyslexic 16-year-old high school dropout. It’s doubtful the young Richard felt ‘ready’ to start a student magazine, soon followed by a record label and eventually 400 other Virgin brand businesses across a spread of industries.
is is a classic example of multiple cliff edge leaps, almost certainly in the face of fear. It’s on the plummet down from each proverbial cliff that he fast figured out parachute-building best practice!
Okay, let’s draw back from peering over cliff edges for just long enough to take a look at 3 practices to include in your self-talk routine. These will help you overrule self-doubt and send fears packing the next time they loom.
Self-doubt fix #1: Notice and celebrate wins
When you’re engulfed with anxiety it’s only too easy to forget about the times you aced it. Those times you took on challenges that seemed overwhelming, yet step by step you managed to learn what you didn’t yet know, and achieve a successful outcome.
Often the pace we are pressed to keep as entrepreneurs can leave scant opportunity to stop and take in the wins.
When a win or two are fresh in the making but the next batch of challenges are already beckoning, we can very quickly forget what we’ve just overcome and dismiss the stretch as if it doesn’t count.
The trouble though with always focusing on the horizon, is that as you move, it moves too!
Look back on your journey to this point. Remain mindful of where you were recently at, and the numerous obstacles you’ve since overcome.
Self-doubt fix #2: Stay calm because NO ONE knows what they’re doing
We live in a world surrounded by products and services that have come to life and become available to us because many brave people decided to tinker, test and try their ideas. Almost certainly these same people have experienced more failures than successes in their journey, and frequently acted on a string of guesses.
Seth Godin speaks of his own perpetual self-doubt struggle, admitting in The Icarus Deception that despite having a dozen best sellers to his name, he still feels like a fraud all the time!
Fact is, having the tenacity and resilience to push forward and fight through frequent floods of self-doubt and uncertainty, is what makes heroic achievers out of otherwise ordinary people.
If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, do this:
- Put on your problem-solving hat
- Face the challenge from different angles
- Ask questions, listen, observe and then test
- Keep moving forward, trusting in the process
- Decide to act confidently, and look for the lessons.
Self-doubt fix #3: Run your own race
Comparing yourself and your progress to others is the ultimate self-sabotage. It can waste a lot of time. It can drain your energy dead, It will certainly torture you mentally. Simply get comfortable with the fact that there will always be someone who seems to do things better, smarter, or with more certifications, talent or connections than you!
Comparisons are a sure path to feeling discouraged and defeated. What’s worse, it takes your focus off your own path and will leave you doubly doubting yourself!
If you’re caught in a comparison spiral, switch your focus to the following:
- Get clear on your dream, write out your plan – and stick to it
- Be truly you. It’s the only person you can really excel at being!
- Trust your heart, your inner wisdom, and implement
- Forget credentials, measure only by actions and results
When all is said and done it helps to remember that overcoming self-doubt is a skill that is learned. Being human is to fear. Being successful in your mission is to learn to step into the fear and simply do it anyway. The most important thing to realise is that it’s all just a process of practice.
Similar to physical fitness, mental resilience and routinely facing fear become easier with repeat-exposure and the more you work at it. When you see the fear-infused parts of your brain as just another set of mental muscle to train, it places you back in the driver’s seat – in control of your own success.