Self Development

Doubt + fear = success

Last week, I started writing a post entitled “To doubt or not to doubt? That is the question! ” I then continued with the sentence: “Ever since I was a little girl, I doubted myself.” And then, I stopped. I wanted to say that doubt is a two edged sword, but something stopped me. I hadn’t digested the topic properly and I wasn’t sure I had made up my mind about the role of doubt in my life, in our lives. And so, I stopped and told myself that it will come.

And it came. Actually sooner than I thought. Last Thursday, I attended the Fuckup Nights in Brussels, an event organized by the Antiheros organization, where 3 speakers talked about their biggest business failures. They each described their project, what went wrong, how it affected their personal life, what they learned and what they would do differently.

It seems that the most common reasons for failure are arrogance, big egos and the lack of sufficient knowledge. It appears that people fail because they don’t know their limits, they don’t know how to communicate, their pride is too big and most don’t admit to getting help or counselling. Believe it or not, the recipe to success was to stay humble, ask for help, don’t spend money that you don’t have, and thus use your judgment.

So, in other words, if I take the ribbon off this message, I am left with:

  1. Too much confidence can drive to failure.
  2. Stay humble by doubting your decisions.
  3. Fear that you might not know everything and that you might need extra information before engaging into a big project.
  4. Take into account the possibility of failure, so that your judgment stays clear and you don’t get carried away.

But I thought lower confidence, doubt, fear and admitting to possible failure are bad things. Just by typing into Google the words “fear” and “doubt”, I got only quotes such as: “Fear leads to doubt, doubt leads to trouble”, “Doubt not, fear not”, “Never give into your fears and doubts”, “They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure” and the list goes on and on.

The problem is that doubt and fear are our most useful and basic emotions. Fear is a survival instinct. It is a necessary response to threats and dangers. Fear has protected our species from extinction and is responsible for the fight or flight response. Therefore, without fear, we could get ourselves in very dangerous situations where we could end up failing.

Having the ability to doubt your decisions, to be scared before getting yourself into something important, is a blessing. Fear makes us aware, alert and conscious of our decisions. Doubting our decisions, helps us put things into balance and gather all possible information which could help us make a more informed decision. For me, fear, doubt and lower-confidence are fuels that help the fire burn stronger. I see them as protection shields against the possible future failures. They push you to take all measures and all possibilities into consideration which could actually lower the rate of failure.

Another phrase that I heard several times during the speech was: a big part of it is psychology. Yes! Psychology is one of the most probable answers when it all boils down to lack of success. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. If you know yourself well enough, your limits, boundaries, strengths and weaknesses, you will resonate better with your surroundings. Your inter-relationships will be more successful, you will invest time and energy where your passion is, you will associate yourself with people whom you’re compatible with and your choices will become easier and easier. Knowing yourself is key to being a successful person.

So, if I were to end the post that I had started a week ago, I would complete my sentence as such: Ever since I was a little girl, I doubted myself. And I am God damn proud of it! Lack of confidence, fear and doubt are my biggest flaws and yet my most treasured qualities which helped me get where I am today.

The Fuckup Nights will take place every other Thursday! I really recommend attending the events. They are extremely inspiring and rich in useful information.

Photo credits: Anamaria Olaru


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