We have all experienced the same agonizing conflict within ourselves: are we good enough?
How confident are we in ourselves and in our abilities – or does self-doubt cloud our vision?
Even Sheryl Sandberg Struggled with Self-Doubt
Sheryl Sandberg admitted to having self-doubt, but listening to Dr. Peggy McIntosh inspired her to reach beyond her personal misgivings. McIntosh offered that self-doubt is not an accurate reflection of a person’s potential.
Sandberg says that from that point on, she told herself: “I don’t have to feel so confident, but I have to take my seat at the table anyway.”
If we doubt ourselves and our self-worth, how can we effectively lead and inspire others?
Now more than ever, our world needs strong, courageous, BOLD leaders who are not only rooted in a sense of their own self-worth – but who can see the value in all those they lead.
Self-doubt and a lack of self-worth can sabotage any leader, because with these blocks they hold themselves back from being and doing all that they can. This thereby prevents them from experiencing higher levels of impact and fulfillment.
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
— Jim Rohn
How Can Leaders Overcome Self-Doubt?
We don’t, says Margie Warrell, writing in Forbes. “What we do is learn how to reclaim the power it has held over us.”
All of us have had the “I don’t think I can do that” battle within ourselves. At times, however, a little self-doubt can serve us well as we go through this journey called life. But as with anything, if we let our doubts direct our lives, then we miss out on the successes and the fulfillment that might have been achieved.
Warrell shares her own experiences with self-doubt. Yearning to write a book, instead of tackling the job, she mentally rehearsed all the reasons she couldn’t: she never studied writing, couldn’t remember where apostrophes went, and was a busy mom to four children under the age of 7.
It was her husband who asked her the motivating question: “Why don’t you give yourself permission to write an imperfect book?”
So she did. And she learned to reclaim the power her doubt held over her. She suggests some great ways to accomplish that:
- Embrace doubt as part of being human
- Doubt your doubts (they’re not the truth)
- Make your goal larger than your fear
- Build a ladder of smaller, manageable goals first
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
― William Shakespeare
Many Leaders Secretly Harbor Self-Doubt
Publicly, many leaders are charismatic, results-driven, motivational, inspire success in others…and a host of other valuable traits.
But deep within, anxieties lurk, says Maryanne Mooney, writing in YPO. In coaching sessions, many leaders admit to harboring self-doubts secretly and suffering from anxious thoughts about their ability to continually succeed. This has certainly been the case with many of the leaders I have worked with, as well.
She cites an example: A young CEO in a global tech business is wildly successful. Yet he admits to anxieties, fearing he may not be the person to take the company forward. He asks himself if he has what it takes or if someone else might do a better job. Many of us can relate to that.
Mooney defines self-belief:
“Self-belief is an unassuming, calm, accurate understanding of one’s wherewithal to meet current and future challenges.”
She compares it to a tree battered by a storm: although it sways in a storm, its deep roots anchor it firmly in the ground.
And so it is with a BOLD, worthy leader: Believing in ourselves allows our leadership abilities to shine through despite the storms of life. Self-belief boosts our confidence and increases our resiliency to meet current challenges – and the inevitable future ones.
“Your business growth is tied to your personal growth. There is no business strategy that can make up for a lack of worthiness in the leader of that business.”
– Eleanor Beaton
Are You Worthy of Your Leadership?
But what about the concept of worthiness in leadership? Simply because someone heads up an organization doesn’t designate them a true leader. So much more constitutes a leader other than just a title: honesty, humility, courageousness, a willingness to think outside the box, resilience, and many other solid traits make up a true, bold leader.
Bryan Evje writing in Inc. cites a few questions we can ask ourselves in determining our true worthiness in our leadership roles. A few are:
- Are we leading for our own personal gains, or for a shared purpose?
- In times of uncertainty or fears, how do we respond?
- Do we lead others to be the best they can be?
Evje cites poet David Whyte who understood the value of fear: “It is not the thing you fear that you must deal with: it is the mother of the thing you fear.”
Here are some questions to consider:
- How do we typically respond when we encounter a complex situation to which we haven’t yet discovered an answer?
- When a crisis hits, how do we usually respond? Why is that?
- Is our leadership style the same in a routine situation as it is in a crisis mode? If not, what’s different?
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them.
How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
If self-doubt has been a struggle for you, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my completely FREE confidence e-series today. You’ll learn 5 easy confidence steps you need to know to achieve your next big goal in a BOLDER way.
Colleen Slaughter, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
As a Women’s Leadership Coach, my highest intention in the business realm is to help women in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.
Recently, my perspectives were featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.