Leadership in a word: Doubts
The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. - Franklin D. Roosevelt
A WORD ABOUT DOUBTS
Doubts. It’s a confession that many leaders are not willing to own up to. But if you hang around in leadership for any length of time you will have your fill of doubts. I know I have.
I am reminded of a story from Bits & Pieces some years ago about Lord Halifax, a former foreign secretary of Great Britain who once shared a railway compartment with two prim-looking spinsters. A few moments before reaching his destination, the train passed through a tunnel. In the utter darkness, Halifax kissed the back of his hand noisily several times. When the train drew into the station, he rose, lifted his hat, and in a gentlemanly way said:
“May I thank whichever one of you two ladies I am indebted to for the charming incident in the tunnel.” He then beat a hasty retreat, leaving the two ladies glaring at each other.
That amusing little story subtly reminds us that our own self-doubts have a way of glaring back at us from time to time. But what tends to be the source of our doubts? There are perhaps numerous reasons why we tend to have our doubts as it pertains to our personal leadership and confidences we should have. But here are three common ones.
WE HAVE DOUBTS WHEN WE LISTEN TO OUR CRITICS
If we spend too much time entertaining the voices of our critics we can unwittingly position ourselves for disappointment. This happens not because the critic is right but because we allow those opposing voices to linger.
“Mindset” author Carol S. Dweck said, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?” It’s when you change your mindset that you erase the doubts of your critics and most important - yourself.
WE HAVE DOUBTS WHEN WE HAVE THE WRONG ATTITUDE
The day you own your attitude is the day you begin to tear down the destructive force of your doubts. Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.” You can’t expect to grow as a leader and reach your full potential so long as negative attitudes fill your mind.
Take a moment, right now, for some intentional reflection. If your current attitude/mindset was set like a thermostat for the rest of the year, do you think you could confidently look back a year from now and believe in your heart that you would be better off at that time? How do you think your attitude impacts those around you? What needs to change?
WE HAVE DOUBTS THAT SERVE A GREATER PURPOSE
We have to be ever-mindful and vigilant about the messages and voices we entertain and the mindset we develop. It’s an intuition skill that we develop over time.
But not every doubt serves a negative purpose and not every critic is wrong. This is where, as leaders, we must listen with a discerning ear.
As a leader, don’t mistake constructive criticism from a friend or peer as a critic out to harm you. Trusted confidants who are able to speak truth into your life are essential to your leadership growth. How you receive the truth, along with how you apply it, will make all the difference to you going forward.
Not every doubt is your enemy; not every praise your friend. As a leader, you must know the difference.
“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.” - Ralph Marston
“Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds open to you.” - Robert Kiyosaki
“I think you’re not a human being unless you have doubts and fears.” - Mike Krzyzewski
“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” - Amelia Earhart
A FINAL WORD
If you have doubts as a leader from time to time - welcome to the club. We all do. Never allow your doubts to get in the way of your destiny. You are stronger than you think. You are not the sum of your fears. Turn your doubts into stepping stones on your way to achieving your dreams and fulfilling your destiny.
©2018 Doug Dickerson
1. To be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.
2. To distrust.
3. Archaic. To fear; be apprehensive about.