Driving Through Doubt

Driving Through Doubt
Image credit: markus spiske | Flickr
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When I am immersed in the creative process, I wade through cycles of emotion evoked by the process.

The first part of the cycle usually involves these elements: a new idea, rapid movement and excitement. 

A promising idea arrives swathed in excitement. The untapped potential at the outset of a project is exhilarating: There are unknown adventures, endless learning opportunities and perhaps the prospect of profit.

When I'm hatching a new idea, I work quickly. At the development stage, projects don't usually require the depth of thought mandated for later decisions. Beginnings entail a lot of rough sketching and developing of big-picture ideas rather than fine-tuning small (but important) details.

Coming up with the big-picture ideas is the best part of a new project because they're, well, big.

Such concepts are driven by creativity and unconstrained by red tape or the need to "draw inside the lines." The initial stages of putting an idea into motion leave me energized and exhilaration. I’m confident that I've struck gold. Nothing will keep me from succeeding.

Then comes the middle stage -- full of details, slow movement and doubts.

This is the part of the cycle that wears on me. Hashing out details, waiting for responses and managing the complexities of bringing a big-picture idea to life can be a slow and draining process. I find my mindset often shifts during this second stage -- and not for the better.

I would also venture to guess I’m not alone.

The honeymoon phase is over. This is the time when entrepreneurs are forced to navigate being married to their grand idea. This stage requires negotiating and compromise -- learning where they are willing to bend and where they must stand their ground.

This stage requires navigating the realities of finances: how much to spend versus what to reserve and the trade-offs in the budget. Attention must be paid to details that are not glamorous or exciting but totally necessary. And it requires patience.

Somewhere, in today's "push for pizza" society, people have lost patience. They expect progress yesterday. When results don't arrive at the tap of a button, people begin to doubt their ideas, and worst of all, theirselves.

They play the most unkind thoughts on repeat in their heads, simultaneously crushing their ideas and self-esteem. And then they must pick up the pieces.

Entrepreneurs can, however, use feelings of doubt to their advantage so they can ultimately overcome them. To do so, consider the following:

Related: 4 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt

1. Determine the source of the doubt.

Are you feeling as though you're not making enough progress? Did someone offer advice that was less than encouraging?

Are you unhappy with a work sample created or the initial production run results?

When you narrow down the source of a doubt, you isolate the key concern and can set aside unrelated and insignificant insecurities that snowball from it.

Doubt spawns more doubt: It's a domino effect, so the only solution is to stop the collapse of the tiles before they fall. Find the source of a doubt, isolate it and address it. Focus on one concern at a time.

Related: The 'Aha!' Moments of Famous Inventors (Infographic)

2. Welcome breakthroughs.

In excess, doubt can be debilitating.

But a healthy amount of doubt can keep entrepreneurs from becoming complacent. It forces them to examine and analyze the status quo. It lets them decide if they are making the right expenditures and using the most qualified team, efficient processes and the best materials.

Doubt, when taken apart constructively, can lead to unforeseen breakthroughs because it arises from the concern that perhaps there's a better way.

When you isolate and analyze your doubts, you might find simpler, better or more effective solutions to the questions your company is trying to answer.

When you carefully analyze the situation causing concern, you might find that your approach offers the best possible solution and thoughts to the contrary are merely impatience or insecurities. Either way, doubt keeps you on your toes.

Related: How to Regroup When You've Lost Your Way

3. Prove insecurities wrong.

In a society obsessed with push notifications and 140-character Twitter limits, people are accustomed to processes that are short, quick and convenient. If I have to tap more than three buttons on an app to arrive at a desired destination, I become antsy.

Entrepreneurs are forced to develop a counterculture mentality. I find this is especially true for young entrepreneurs who have to fight the urge to turn their back on something just because they are unable to immediately push toward progress.

Just because success is not instantaneous does not mean it's unattainable. Anyone who has faced an obstacle can attest to the satisfaction of overcoming it.

Don't settle for easy: Strive to accomplish what's hard. Any challenge is an opportunity to learn, grow and prove to yourself the potential you hold.

Related: 7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Master Self-Awareness