It comes upon you amidst great challenges and great successes. There is no vaccine for it. You cannot prevent it from happening. It afflicts you along with the most successful people in the world. What is it? Doubt.
Doubt is questioning whether something is true. I’m sure you have doubted things you were told at work. (No one believes everything they are told.) Maybe one of your children told you a story about what they did or where they were, and you doubted the validity. (Welcome to parenthood!)
Yet the biggest struggles we face are doubts about ourselves, questioning our abilities. We believe in ourselves, yet we also doubt. I have been there before, like the father in scripture who said,
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!
Sometimes you can anticipate those doubts coming, like when you are tackling something new that you have never done before. With the unknown, it is natural to experience questions and have doubts. Yet, when doubts arise when we least expect them, they shake us.
As an example, you have worked hard in your career, progressed in the organization and have now been promoted into a new position. The organizational leaders believed in you, and that is why they have chosen you. You’ve had many past successes to draw upon. There isn’t a reason for you to doubt, yet doubt creeps in with an inner voice that whispers, “do I really belong in this position? Do I have what it takes?”
It is okay to have brief moments of doubts. We all have them. It means you are normal. The question is what you do when you experience doubt.
Some people choose to deny them, but they are only fooling themselves by doing so. Others are paralyzed by them and become stuck in doubt. Doubts are about what “might be”, not what is. You don’t want to stay there. Doubt is not a healthy place to be. In scripture we are reminded that when we doubt, we lose our grounding,” because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).
I like what Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the best basketball players ever, said about self-doubts. Two things he said have stuck with me:
“We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”
“This is a challenge, let’s see. I don’t know if I can do it or not, but I’m going to find out.”
When we embrace our doubt and move into action, those doubts begin to fade. When we are doing, we don’t have time to worry about what “might be”. Through the process you will learn about yourself and learn new things. I can’t guarantee you will be successful, but through the process you will learn you can do things you didn’t think were possibly, you will make and learn from mistakes, you will develop skills you didn’t have before and strengthen the skills you do have. In accepting the challenge, you will silence those doubts.
So, what do you do when doubts begin to creep in? Take a deep breath, embrace the doubts. Accept the challenge, and watch those doubts fade away.