How to Help Reluctant Team Members Move From Self-Doubt to Gusto

He wanted the new opportunity. Yet, he sat there wondering, “What if I fail?”

Finally I said, “I have a word for you. ‘Gusto.’ How might you pursue this opportunity with gusto? The people above you believe in you. They want to see your passion, not anxiety.”


Finding gusto:

Nod to inner critics.

Acknowledge your inner critic tends to overestimate risk and underestimate talent, skill, and capability. The value of risk is motivation and preparation. The danger of underestimating yourself is paralysis.

Value self-doubt.

Self doubt suggests you want something. You don’t experience nagging self doubt over an opening in management, if you don’t aspire to management.

Step toward nagging self doubt, not away. You can’t be certain you have what it takes if the assignment is a stretch and you’ve never done it before.

Go bright.

Choose aspiration over anxiety. Life lived avoiding risk ends up more stressful than life lived leaning in. In short bursts, fear elevates energy, enhances creativity, and stiffens resolve.

5 questions to gusto:

Helping people find and pursue their passion is leadership’s highest privilege.

  1. Clarify aspiration. Ask, “What do you want?” Most people respond with things they don’t want. Listen to ‘don’t wants.’ Say, “I hear what you don’t want. What do you want?”
  2. Answer doubt with success stories from the past. “How have you risen to success in the past?”
  3. Call for a commitment. “What are you willing to commit to do?” Listen for don’ts. Ask for dos. A commitment is a decision you don’t have to keep making. Vacillating never inspires. Commitments find expression in behaviors.
  4. Gather a team of supporters. “Who might help as you move forward?”
  5. What’s the next step?

Bonus: What happens if you do nothing?

How might leaders help team members face self doubt and find gusto?