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In this day and age, with social media blasting everyone’s accomplishments and failures in real time and numerous ways to see what everyone else is doing, it’s easy to lose confidence and conviction in your mission. Based on how often I hear people talk about imposter syndrome in both professional and personal settings, it’s clear that many high-achieving individuals suffer from at least occasional self-doubt. I would be lying if I said it was never a problem for me.
It’s especially a problem if you’re a leader in any capacity. Show a moment of weakness and you’ll be thrown to the wolves. Leaders are expected to lead by example, set “big, hairy, audacious goals” and inspire their teams to be all they can be. On top of that, if you read my last article, you know that, ideally, leaders do so without becoming prideful jerks. In this environment, it can be hard to maintain belief and conviction in a particular mission.
Star Wars fans should recall the following exchange between Yoda and Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. When Luke fails to raise his X-Wing out of the swamp, Yoda steps in and raises it with relative ease. Luke, says, “I don’t believe it,” to which Yoda replies, “This is why you fail.” It’s one of my favorite exchanges in the entire series — not only because I’m a Star Wars nerd, but also because of how insightful Yoda’s words are. (Ok, and I also like it because it establishes that Luke was always a whiny brat, and not just in The Last Jedi.)
But on a serious note, consider the consequences of not believing. If you don’t think a difficult task can be accomplished, or if you can come up with a number of excuses about why you’ll fail, then just call it a day. It goes without saying that if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. If you don’t think it’s something that you can accomplish, then don’t waste any more time. On the other hand, if you really believe something is worth doing, then just believe. There really is no other way around this — belief is a prerequisite. Don’t be like Luke in The Empire Strikes Back unless you want to lose a hand.
So, now you’re convinced that believing is critical. What’s next? Here are three things to keep in mind so that your level of belief in your own abilities is that of a fervent zealot.
1. It’s alright to have doubt in the outcome, but there can’t be doubt about the commitment.
Conceptually, most would agree with the statement above. So, let’s dig a little deeper into what all of this entails. Doubt and fear are natural and unavoidable. As Ned Stark states in Game of Thrones, “the only time a man can be brave [is when he is afraid.]” Again, there is tremendous insight there. Doubt (or a lack of belief) in a particular outcome is completely normal and even to be expected. So when you feel such emotions, don’t let that unseat your belief. It is critical that you maintain your belief in your commitment, especially when you’re leading important initiatives within your company. That is something you can control.
2. No regrets — everything is a learning opportunity.
Mistakes are really just learning opportunities. For example, at my company, we haven’t always selected the most useful or best vendors. But as a result, we now ask better questions when we vet new vendors, and it’s all based on factors that we failed to notice the first time around. If you’re incapable of learning from your mistake, you’re not looking close enough. (Unless your mistake is that you’re a jerk and you don’t know it.) Don’t be that person. Dig deep and really explore what went wrong, and be thankful for the learning opportunity.
3. Block out the noise and the haters.
I have three elementary school-aged kids who play various sports. It’s always amusing to see how other parents treat their kids at sporting events. Listening to some of these parents, you’d think that they’re the second coming of Coach K (I include myself in this). In any case, the better kids do a great job of shutting out the noise and making sure they only pay attention to what or who they need to pay attention to.
Everyone has an opinion, but there’s no reason to listen to them all. Ignore the haters and the doubters. If they’re your close friends or family, laugh politely and change the subject. Ultimately, remember to consider the source. Does the hater live a principled life that you look up to? If so, then take a pause to listen. But most of the time, I suspect haters are just that.
Remember that belief is a prerequisite to anything worthwhile. Sure, you might fail and not end up with your desired outcome — that’s never something you can fully solve for. But, if you employ these three tactics, hopefully you’ll come a little closer to your goal.
As always, thank you for the insightful comments. I would love to hear how you deal with a crisis in belief.
March 13, 2019 at 07:56AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs