no doubtsDoubt enters our minds. No one is immune. As much as someone tells you about their lack of doubt, they have it. Some may brush doubt off quickly, and some may ignore it. Doubt is present, as certain as clouds enter the sky.

Life presents many choices, and how we choose to deal with our doubt is vital one. Doubt can:

  • Dig us deeper into the status quo
  • Cloud our self-worth
  • Muddy our relationships
  • Wear us down

Doubt can also:

  • Identify pitfalls to navigate around
  • Strengthen relationships we have
  • Increase our confidence in how we solve problems
  • Lift us up to see beyond the next hill

Doubt is present. How we deal with doubt is a choice.

Doubt Defined

The definition of doubt is interesting. Doubt offers a three-part definition (yet another choice to make):

  1. To be uncertain about
  2. Consider questionable or unlikely
  3. Hesitate to believe

With these three parts, they align to:

  1. Mindset
  2. Odds
  3. Soul alignment

The three parts or definitions of doubt are insightful.

Doubts: A Mindset

A doubting mindset can be useful or harmful. Doubting things can be healthy, as it encourages us to dig beyond the surface thoughts or events. Doubting things can be unhealthy, too, if it creates a sense of conspiracy or stalemate. We see evidence of both in individuals and leaders.

In leaders, doubt can be harmful when:

  • They never believe a colleague or team member.
  • They can never make decisions.
  • They explode solutions into a state of disbelief that anything can resolve a situation or problem.

The consequence is loss of confidence within an organizational culture, and it wastes time as the doubter collects the information already gathered by a different individual. What we see is that doubters cannot believe anything unless they hear from the original source. When this lack of belief happens, you can feel the attitudes of an organization deflate.

Other consequences include running in place and incomprehensible problems or solutions. Running in place digs deeper ruts, and everyone feels stuck. Making the problem seem bigger than it is just surrounds everyone in a state of despair and a point of inaction again. Too many organizations and leaders sink talent and growth with doubt.

In leaders, doubt can be healthy when:

  • They open other considerations to explore and discover.
  • They ask questions that takes thinking deeper and broader.
  • They see connections of information to point a unique path forward.

The consequences of healthy doubt are more complete strategies and tactics and a plan that carries more contingency options. When this happens, we limit risk while defining steps to move forward. Another result is a more engaged culture in how they work with others and analyze information into actionable steps.

Doubts: The Odds

Most plans or ventures carry a certain downside and upside. We cannot know the answer to every question or situation, but we may have a sense of what is unknown and what questions remain. What may be healthy is to calculate an estimated chance of success on critical strategic and tactical plans. For those elements that contain a lower chance of success, we can monitor key metrics more closely and be ready to adapt.

Using doubt to lead more completely is a good thing. By leading this way, others see the positive example and use their doubt in a healthier way. A more robust culture happens. Better strategies and more flexibility occur.

Doubts: Soul Alignment

  • What do you believe?
  • Do you know what to believe?
  • How do you discern what to believe?

Doubt raises key belief questions. When we take time to answer the questions as best we can, doubt can be healthy. Doubt helps align our soul and mind, and we need to explore this connection when uncertainty enters in.

The challenge is using doubt to strengthen our soul-mind connection rather than weaken it. If doubt drowns our soul, we lose sight of what matters most in leading in our life, career, and organization. Our rudder runs aground, and many suffer when our grounding is lost. If doubt keeps our mind running endlessly in circles, we can no longer see clearly in many things.

Having doubt can strengthen what we believe or what is no longer true. Doubt can close the gaps, or it can present a better belief than before. We need to use doubt to discover. In the process, we use our minds to read, discuss, evaluate, analyze, and feed our soul with information. By doing this, our mind remains strong in our thought process and creativity, and our soul gains strength in wrestling through the added information and discerning what strengthens our core.

We cannot let doubt ruin our soul. We must use doubt to renew our beliefs of what is possible or change our beliefs to a new possibility. Both are healthy and necessary.

Wear No Doubts

What inspired this post was a storefront. The picture above appears in a local Bonobos window, and it sparked something in me as I was driving to The Grove to work on my new venture. I would like to wear no doubts, but I cannot. I have a lot of doubts about my new venture. However, I cannot always show it, and I know that the show must go on. Whether it is the right venture or not, I know that by doing the work and exploring my doubts, I will gain clarity.

The lesson of doubt is clarity. And clarity wears well.



The lesson of doubt is clarity. And clarity wears well.

I know I need the mindset to grow by discovering and answering questions. I know I need to understand the odds so I can place my bets in the right places and limit my risk as much as possible. I know that what I may firmly believe today may change when new information comes available, and I know this growth is required. While I cannot wear no doubts, I can wear my doubts well by working through what is raised within and with the marketplace I pursue.

No different in life.

No different with family.

No different in college.

No different in our careers.

No different in whatever adventures or ventures we take on.

Doubt can play a healthy role. We just need to treat doubt in a healthy way.

Join the conversation on doubt:

  • How do you wear your doubts?
  • What lessons have you learned from the doubts you have had?
  • How have you strengthened your soul in times of doubt?