The 6 Powers of Healthy Self-Doubt
It’s astonishing to see the confidence of leaders who oversee failure and still believe they have answers.
Unchallenged self-belief produces intolerance.
The problem of unchallenged self-belief is seen in arrogant politicians, interventionist news media, and over-confident leaders.
In complicated situations and turbulent times, the person with easy answers is an idiot.
The difference between knowing how to find an answer and having THE answer is openness.
“The best bosses dance on the edge of overconfidence, but a healthy dose of self-doubt and humility saves them from turning arrogant and pigheaded. Bosses who fail to strike this balance are incompetent, dangerous to follow, and downright demeaning.” Robert Sutton
The 6 powers of healthy self-doubt:
- Valuing relationships.
- Opened ears. Listening has value to those who need to learn.
- Closed mouths.
- Preparation in the face of challenge.
- Humility of heart – openness of mind. A little self-doubt prevents you from looking down on others.
- Learning to trust others.
Self-doubt is healthy when it raises intensity, motivates preparation, and inspires vigilance. It’s unhealthy when it paralyzes you.
Believe in yourself enough to bring self-doubt with you into decisions and commitments.
“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it’s not without doubt but in spite of doubt.” Rollo May
Too much self-doubt blocks progress, prevents connection, creates anxiety, and inspires self-centeredness.
Responding to self-doubt:
- Move forward in spite of self-doubt.
- Create deadlines as motivation tools.
- Develop partnerships that bolster courage.
- Adopt an ‘adapt as you go’ approach.
- Focus on what’s next and less on final outcomes.
- Seek input.
- Commit to decisions.
A little self-doubt serves leaders well. Use it. Don’t lose it.
What value do you see in healthy self-doubt?
How might leaders navigate tension between self-doubt and over-confidence?
Self-esteem check: Too low, too high or just right? – Mayo Clinic
I see the Link as “learning”, we need to be open minded to learning with confidence and sharing with the doubting side of us. This becomes the building block of confidence within allowing us to build outward and upward. Learning to trust others goes as far as their knowledge base as well as ours, all the answers may not be the right answer as you mentioned “Easy answers is an idiot”! I would add selling fools Gold!
Thanks Tim. There’s a lot of fools gold in the world. 🙂 Love your addition, “trust goes as far as their knowledge base…” That’s an important idea. We trust people because of their character AND their expertise.
Dan I may have committed on this before but being over confident myself in my youth, I believe that people need to fail at something that is very important to them to learn some humility. For me it happened young on a very personal matter but it can also be in ones career. Better that this occurs young.
Thanks Brad. It feels like being humbled helps create openness. We might not like it, but failure helps us see ourselves more clearly, if we allow it. Glad you jumped in today, Brad.
“The problem of unchallenged self-belief is seen in arrogant politicians, interventionist news media, and over-confident leaders. In complicated situations and turbulent times, the person with easy answers is an idiot. The difference between knowing how to find an answer and having THE answer is openness.” So how come our public dialogue is now bending towards censorship and woke shaming instead of “openness”. It is almost as if it is a direct decision by those that govern us that “we” do not need to know and do not need to have a clear discussion. I fear that a double down on this concept is now in play and that those same concepts will drive down into various businesses. We shall see how it plays out.
Thanks Roger… Well we agree that failure often does not create openness. The answer may be arrogance. In the end, the only person who can humble us is us. Some people go through difficulty/failure and they get resistant. That’s a symptom of arrogance in my view. Others fail and learn. That’s humility.
Position and power contribute to our tendency to arrogance. Humble leadership is quite remarkable.
Just learned that those born on a New-Moon can especially benefit from a healthy dose of Self-Doubt during high-energy phases. I had not a clue what “healthy self-doubt” meant so appreciate the article.