7 Ways to Overcome the Second-Guessing-Syndrome

Second guessing is a game cowards play with wisdom gained from hindsight.

The announcers yelled, “I can’t believe the call,” when Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, called a pass play that lost the Super Bowl for his team.

second guessing

Good and bad of second guessing:

I second guess my decisions, presentation techniques, strategies for dealing with people, and about anything I do that matters.

Second guessing that begins, “What would you do better,” is useful.

Second guessing that ends, “You loser,” encourages discouragement and discourages development.

7 ways to overcome the second-guessing-syndrome:

Leaders who second guess create fearful environments where avoiding mistakes is the goal.

  1. Limit the playing field. You can’t do everything well.
  2. Include the people doing the work in planning the work.
  3. Establish guidelines together.
  4. Clarify values. If you value excellence, describe it before projects begin.
  5. Go with the preferences of those doing the work as long as they align with mission and values. Imposing your preferences creates disengaged robots.
  6. Create a culture where looking back is about celebration and improvement.
    • What are we learning?
    • How can we be better?
    • What routines protect success?
  7. Combine strengths. Bring doers and dreamers together, for example.

Mistakes made with gusto are better than mediocrity that grinds on.

Second guessing with volunteers in nonprofits:

Dysfunctional volunteers think everything should be done their way.

  1. Don’t allow those who aren’t doing it to sit on the sidelines barking instructions.
  2. Expect volunteers to seek more feedback than they give. Ask, “Do you mind if I give you some feedback?”
  3. Fuel energy and marginalize weakness. Ask, “How does your suggestion energize their strength?”
  4. Establish recurring opportunities for forward-facing input.
    • How can we be better?
    • How are we maximizing each others passions and strengths?
    • Where can the horses on the track take us?

Read input on second guessing from Facebook fans.

How can leaders transform second guessing into useful input?