Why Self-Doubt Is Your Worst Enemy

March 4, 2023

You think things are going well in your presentation, then you catch someone checking their phone, yawning, or not paying attention and you feel that panic well up in your gut. You lose focus and start to sweat. Your mind starts to go over all the things you are doing wrong. " I should have worn the other shirt.  My other opening remarks really were stronger. I hate speaking in meetings. I knew I wasn't good enough, smart enough, tall enough, young enough..." Lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities is self-doubt. It has killed more dreams than lack of skill ever has.And unfortunately in today's world where things are constantly changing, it's easy to fall prey to that nasty little voice that says "You can't".Here's the only good thing about self-doubt. You made it, so you can fix it. Six Consequences of Self-Doubt1. Imposter phenomenon. This is when you attribute your success to something or someone else. Making statements like "I was just in the right place at the right time" or "My team really did all the work" downplays your role in a success. The fix? When you do something well, receive praise. It's okay to say a simple thank you without downplaying your part.2.Self-handicapping. This nasty consequence of your doubt results in your doing something that gives you an excuse if you fail. Also called self-sabotage it's like going out drinking the night before a job interview. If you don't get the job you can blame it on the hangover rather than risking failure when you performed your best. The fix? Stop seeing failure or mistakes as bad and start seeing them as part of the process. If you value lessons learned from mistakes as important steps to success you can start to see them as part of the process rather than roadblocks. 3. Procrastination. We all know what this one is. Putting off an important task because you fear the evaluation once it's finished.The fix?The simplest way to overcome procrastination is to schedule. When you have an assignment immediately break it into manageable steps and add them to your calendar. Use rewards or an accountability partner if that helps keep you on task. What gets scheduled gets done. 4. Defense Pessimism. This is when you rehearse all of the worst possible outcomes in your head. Good news. Even though all the self-help gurus say "Your thoughts create your reality" this consequence is actually good for you. Wait, what? Positive Psychology research has shown that rehearsing the worst case scenario actually buffers you against a downward spiral when things go wrong. The key is also rehearing what you will do if the worst case scenario comes true. You already thought that this might go wrong so you are prepared. You don't panic because you had a plan B. 5. Subjective Overachievement. This one doesn't seem like a bad thing at first glance; it's tremendously overdelivering consistently. The problem here is burnout. Constantly overdelivering is exhausting. And once people at the office expect you to go above and beyond you have to raise the bar again to maintain overachiever status. The fix? Be good. Deliver what was asked for on time. Make your goal be precision rather than perfection. Give them what they wanted not double or triple what they wanted. A tweet or a haiku are can be as profound as a news article or a Shakespearean sonnet. 6. Other enhancement. I think of this one as the blame game. Your failure is attributed not to your shortcomings or mistakes but to someone else's good fortune. "I couldn't compete with him, his Dad worked here for 30 years" or "He went to the same college as the hiring team so there was no way I can compete" The fix? Tell a different story. One that paints you as the winner, the successful one or the obvious choice. Instead of worrying about the advantages you don't have, focus on the positive assets you do have. A little self-doubt is normal. Chronic self-doubt is a career stopper. If you recognize any of the six traits above, you may need a little self-esteem boost. Next week's blog is all about enhancing self-esteem. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, I'd love to hear about how you kick self-doubt to the curb. Do you have a power position, an affirmation, or some special socks? Comment or share it on one of my social feeds.

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