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How to deal with self doubt in business
by Startacus Admin
Within the heart of even the most accomplished entrepreneurs lies a threatening capacity for self-doubt; it is not a unique emotion, but rather a universal one. There are those who fear this most natural of mental states as the potential destruction of their hard-won successes and the self-fulfilled prevention of their future endeavours.
Whilst certainly if left unchecked self-doubt can be the undoing of success, we are of the mind that a little self-doubt probably isn’t quite as bad a thing as most people think. There is after all much to be said for a little humility, and self-doubt at the very least demonstrates the ability to take an objective view of your business, as well as your own ability to make it a success.
That being said, there comes a point where self-doubt grows to become a rather more destructive influence, reigning in your self confidence to such an extent that you become too cautious, too apprehensive, and too willing to rest back on your laurels for fear of failure. This issue is particularly important at the moment, as the rapidly altering way that enterprise of all types operate, creates much opportunity for self doubt. Fast moving technologies and the exponential growth of the digital economy, can leave many enterprising individuals feeling as though the train has left the station without them; their self-doubt preventing them from catching up, and making the most of the opportunities the digital world has created for them.
There are opportunities available which can help equip you with the tools and confidence needed to make the most of the online potential of your business. For example, in recent weeks we have have been talking a lot about the pioneering efforts of Derry City and Strabane District council, who have been leading the way, with their recent Growing the Digital Economy programme. This progressive programme has offered both digital and traditional businesses individually tailored support to help grow, and develop their online presence.
But when it comes to self-doubt, there are a number of things that you can do on an individual level, that can help to shake your insecurities and allow you to seize the opportunities which are available to you.
Here are a few of the ways that you can overcome self doubt and ensure that negativity doesn’t damage your business.
1. Accept that self-doubt is normal.
The time to be worried is when you never have any self-doubt whatsoever. Self-doubt, is a perfectly standard human condition, which shows you have a grasp of your own fallibility; the key is to have a healthy respect for this uncertainty, to bow to your self-doubt, but not be bound by it. If you find yourself intimidated by the confidence and apparent unwavering self belief of others, know that their behaviour does not denote the complete absence of self-doubt, but rather a mind that has been able to effectively manage this emotion. Even the most successful of entrepreneurs have had countless instances of self-doubt, but it’s how they deal with them, that determines the impact that they have.
2. Create goals which challenge self-doubt
When approaching any substantial and daunting task in business, your vantage point will always be one which encourages a certain level of self-doubt, if you are phased by the sheer enormity of the task which lies ahead. This is the point at which you should begin to create short term and achievable goals. These will not only help you to attack the task from a more level playing-field, but will also create a sense of achievement, helping to prevent the negative reinforcement which might occur, should you unsuccessfully take on the challenge in its entirety.
Let's say for instance, that you would like to create an ecommerce site for your business but have delayed doing so because you are unsure of your ability to carry the project through to completion. Such a task is indeed a daunting one, but by breaking it down into its constituent parts, you leave yourself in a much better position from which to tackle it. When chopping a task up into smaller goals, try to think of it as consisting of a series of steps, each one a task in itself; if need be if these tasks can be further subdivided into smaller tasks still, you will have yet more achievable goals.
For example, you might like to break down the process of creating a business website into the following steps; deciding what the purpose of your website will be, deciding how you will create the website, choosing a web hosting package, selecting a template that will meet the needs that you have, selecting what plugins you are going to use, organising the structure of the website, creating the content you will need to launch, etc.
3. Realise that failure is not the end of the world
If you are the sort of person who refuses to try if there is even the remote chance that you will fail, then perhaps starting, running, and growing a business isn’t for you. When fear of failure starts to hold you back from taking chances, that is the time when self-doubt is having a negative impact on your hopes for future success. The old adage ‘you can’t win them all’ holds very true in this regard; failure is all part of the game, and is something that, whilst not actively sought should be embraced when it does occur.
Indeed, there is a particular school of thought which suggests that there are many positive outcomes which can be gleaned from failure. One group, which are hearty advocates of the greatness of failure are Fail Forward, who have tasked themselves with changing the culture, feeling, and understanding of failure within the UK. They recently wrote an article for us, which detailed 5 of the best things that can come from failure, highlighting how;
It’s how you grow/improve/learn/build character
It makes life interesting by adding an element of the unknown
It highlights your critical flaws, allowing you to begin correcting them
It forces you to use negative emotions in a positive way
4. Realise that you can't control everything
Most of the time so called ‘self-doubt’ is actually less a lack of confidence in your own abilities, and more a fear of being unable to have complete control over the success / failure of your endeavours. It’s a reality of life that you cannot control everything, and sometimes failure can come about despite your most impeccable efforts. After all, that is attractive in the idea of personal and professional success being entirely within ones own hands, it simply isn’t true. We are all at the mercy of countless external influences, and sometimes events conspire in a way that has a detrimental impact on the things that are important to us.
The key is to avoid letting situations like this crush your resolve, and that can be a very difficult thing to do, especially when it comes to something as public as a failure in business.
The real failure is allowing this fear to hold you back from even trying; remember that so long as you give something everything that you’ve got, you have already succeeded, regardless of where the chips may fall.