Let’s begin by exploring the concept of self-doubt. Self-doubt is a state of uncertainty in which people become immobilized and cannot move forward. Stumped, stymied, frustrated, and blocked are some of the many words clients use to describe the mental state that self-doubt represents. It implies that we are somehow unwilling or unable to act on something or move toward a goal that we are striving to accomplish. We have a destination but are unable to reach it.
How a Coach Can Help With Self-Doubt
So how does one address these roadblocks? As a coach, I support my clients in two ways:
- First, I help them to clarify their goals.
- Next, I encourage their self-belief in what they are capable of accomplishing.
Self-doubt is composed of both external and internal components. The external may include a lack of funds or the necessary time for accomplishing a goal. These external blocks can be addressed by creating a concrete action plan for removing the given obstacles.
The internal component of self-doubt is what we refer to in coaching as “limiting beliefs.” These are beliefs that we carry with us which are often untrue or no longer relevant. These beliefs may have served a purpose at one time but are no longer applicable or valid. An open and honest dialogue with many thought-provoking questions allows us to explore and debunk many of these long-held beliefs.
The Three Most Common Fears
In a February 2004 Harvard Business Review article titled “Managing Yourself: Success That Lasts,” Howard Stevenson and Laura Nash interviewed successful individuals in various fields who were identified as being at the top of their professions. The following three fears were consistently expressed by those who were interviewed:
- “I won’t be a success.”
- “I will be a success, but it won’t be enough.”
- “I will be a success, but I will have to sell my soul.”
How High Achievers are Different
My own observations have shown me that even the most successful individuals experience fears and moments of self-doubt. The key difference with high achievers is that they act in spite of these things.
High achievers succeed by focusing on the future and the goals they have set for themselves. They take great satisfaction in the process of achieving their goals. They also have the ability to delay gratification, focus on a vision for the future, and work hard to pursue it.
High achievers persist in the face of adversity. They face their own fears and act when others might tend to give up. While there is clearly a need for some basic innate talent to begin with, the more critical quality appears to be persistence and singular focus as one works toward a future goal.
We All Have the Capacity to Succeed
As a coach, I work to support clients in defining their goals and move them forward to achieve them. The process is easier for some than for others, but the capacity to succeed exists in all of us.
In the end, if we focus on self-awareness and understand our innate abilities, we all have the opportunity to become high achievers. It is the process of achieving our goals and feeling as though we have made a positive impact that makes all the difference.