If you haven’t listened to Casey Gerald’s TED Talk, The Gospel of Doubt, I strongly encourage you to. Gerald is a Harvard MBA, entrepreneur and brilliant orator. He tells multiple stories about his life’s journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way. From his recollection of being robbed at gun point to joining Lehman Brothers in 2008 (before it collapsed) to examples of how he helped entrepreneurs start their businesses, it is one of my favorite TED Talks.
Gerald reminded me about the power of doubt. Doubting the status quo. Doubting my own fears. Doubting my preconceived notions of “success”. Doubting the stories I was told. Doubting that the answers I revered as being true were just as wrong as the questions I had been asking.
I encourage you to believe a new thing - that it is possible not to believe.
It is possible not to believe the many fears that fill your mind and tell you that you are incapable of significant achievement. Although miracles are hard to come by; focused, disciplined action taken will shorten your horizon to accomplishment, fulfillment and happiness.
If you’re an entrepreneur, or would like to be one, here are eight doubts you may experience and methods to overcome them -
How do I convert my ideas into action?
Consider reading about other startups, join groups of like-minded people (e.g. mastermind groups, professional associations, c-suite roundtables) or participate in a startup incubator.
How will I make enough money?
Build up your savings account ahead of time, continue working in a full or part-time job until your business revenue is sufficient or ask others (crowdfunding, friends and family, investors, etc.) for funding.
I’m not good enough.
Feel confident in knowing that it is more than okay that your product may not be perfect. Taking disciplined action is far more important than perfection.
Will I be rejected socially?
When leaving a job, your identity needs to be reconnected to something new. Join different professional associations, volunteer with new charitable entities or spend more time with your alma mater to feel connected.
I’m going to fail.
Visualize yourself accomplishing important milestones, show gratitude to others daily, practice “faking it until you make it” and keep a lessons learned journal.
I don’t know what’s next.
It’s virtually impossible to prepare for the unknown, so follow your business plan, create small wins, achieve your strategic objectives and reflect on patterns of “yes” and “no”.
Where are my customers?
Be patient. Offer pieces of your product via public presentations, select a handful of customers to receive your product free of charge so that you can receive feedback and ask your initial customers for recommendations and referrals.
I’ll lose long-term security.
Trust your personal values and life mission. Maintain your day job while starting something on the side. Take on a business partner with complementary skills. Money will flow and you’ll feel increasingly secure.
Doubt is important because it helps you to challenge the status quo, to face and overcome your fears, to redefine success as you see fit, to reflect on previous stories you’ve told yourself and search for the silver lining, to ask new questions, and to search for new answers.
It is possible not to believe in the antagonistic what ifs. Doubting your fears helps you learn how to overcome your fears. It is possible to believe that you deserve to achieve your most important goals.
I’ll leave you with the quote that brought Gerald’s talk to a close -
“And this doubt, it fuels me, it gives me hope that when our troubles overwhelm us, when the paths laid out for us seem to lead to our demise, when our healers bring no comfort to our wounds, it will not be our blind faith -- no, it will be our humble doubt that shines a little light into the darkness of our lives and of our world and lets us raise our voice to whisper or to shout or to say simply, very simply, "There must be another way.”