How to Lead in the Face of Doubt

Figure out the first step first.
How to Lead in the Face of Doubt
Image credit: Altayb | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer
Performance and Transformational Coach
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Doubt is a very powerful entity that, without tools, can consume your life, especially during these present times. First, it’s important to know it’s perfectly OK to feel the way you do. Second, this piece is intended to guide you through it so you can stay on the track of your purpose, as it’s needed more than ever before.

Over 11+ years of coaching, I've determined there are three main reasons you may not make that first step toward making transformational change in the face of uncertainty. 

1. You lack the right information. You don't know the exact strategy or steps required to overcome the challenge before you.

2. You’re scared. The wrong or too much information can trigger an innate fear of what could happen if you fail or don’t survive. In a world of instant gratification, we don't want to do things that will take a lot of time, nor do we want to go through the possible pain of growth.

3. You’re lazy. Laziness is very deceiving, especially in the world of entrepreneurship. You may be thinking to yourself, “I'm not lazy, I work really hard." Laziness isn’t about not doing something or how long you’re doing it. It’s about knowing the right thing to do and not doing it.

From my personal and professional experience, laziness comes from comfort. You get so comfortable with the pain of the struggle you currently have, you'd rather be with what you know than venture into what you don't. You get to a point where you're OK trying to accept what you currently have instead of making the effort to change things up, even if you knew a better life was on the other side. 

Let’s say you're looking to lose weight and during this time, the gym you’ve been going to located right around the corner is now closed. You can easily work out at home, but you’re not because you doubt you could receive the same benefits working out at home than you did at the gym. Now you're avoiding doing the one thing you know has been helping you because the environment has changed. So instead, you replace working out with just working. This is what doubt does.

The pain you don't know to get out of the pain you know 

With the world in shelter during this unprecedented time, there's fear behind what you know you can do to make your life better. True leadership starts with taking one specific, measurable, bold action. All you have to do is start.

During a session, my therapist told me, "By making the changes you want and standing firm on them, you become an activist for your own life." These words changed my life. When people see how you set boundaries and make a bold stand for how you want to live, they will begin rallying around you.

Activism is leadership. Both start with taking the lead of your own life and doing something to create massive change that is important to you.

How to break free from doubt

Doubt is created from stories you tell yourself. There are two types of stories. The first are debilitating stories. These stories will prevent you from doing what you want, such as talking to someone you’re interested in, asking for a promotion, going out for that run or telling your friends what they're doing isn’t aligned with your values.

The other stories are those that are rehabilitating. These stories set you up to immediately take action. All you have to do is that one thing and only then do you figure out what to do next. So often we try to figure all of it out before we actually take that first step, and it ends up becoming a crutch. The truth is, you already know more than enough to take many steps. Right now. Even during this unpredictable time. 

When I made that first step to ask for help, whether it was going to therapy, fellowship groups, new friends, new ideas, it pushed me to take a realistic assessment of where I was in my life and what was really important to me. 

In that space, I had to make very difficult decisions as to how I wanted to live in my life and how I wanted to show up in the world. This is no different than what you’re experiencing right now. Like you, this freaked me out. But what made me make that first move was knowing that, while I didn't know everything, I knew something. I knew if I just did one thing, I would be able to learn how to figure the rest of it out at some point. 

Spoiler alert: You're not going to figure everything out. That's not how life or business works. Being OK with that will give you so much peace and serenity even in the most chaotic of moments, now and well into into the future.

Your willingness to seek support and take action during moments of crisis is truly what defines your character. For most of us entrepreneurs, the mission involves helping others live a better life. Before that happens, it’s important to do that for yourself first. 

Leadership is being an activist not just for other people but also for yourself. If there's a challenge you're looking to overcome, figure out the first step, take action and tell others what you learned from it. In these times, people are looking for and need inspiration to rally around. 

A business begins with love of an idea. Transformation begins with love of oneself.

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