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4 Effective Steps for Overcoming Doubt, aka The Dream Killer

Seagull Flying Low Looking Down

Doubt, from the Latin root dubitare, which means to hesitate. Doubt is based in fear. Fear that we are incapable or unworthy to do the great things we dream of doing or becoming. That small voice that compares us to others and tells us we don’t measure up. She wants us to play small. She fears failure, especially publicly visible failure.

I’m the first to admit that I’m accustomed to long conversations and spending ample time with doubt. She’s a familiar frenemy. You know, someone who pretends to be your “friend” but in actuality she sabotages, undermines and overtly points out your flaws. That’s who doubt is to me. She is quite convincing in her argument that she’s doing me a favor by keeping me from building and creating. The truth is, it is in no one’s best interest for me to play small and hesitate.

While everyone experiences doubt, my hunch is entrepreneurs feel this more strongly. We’re more exposed. It takes time to learn and do new things. There’s no one else to blame if our dream doesn’t work out as we’d hoped. (See, there’s doubt again, pointing to the future possible failure instead of the present potential for greatness.)

Those who are daring to do things that haven’t been done before are most vulnerable to doubt. Those who are creating new processes, forging new paths, and building new technologies face self-doubt every day. The question is, will you let her lead or take a back seat? Where there is dreaming, there is uncertainty; where there is uncertainty, doubt is guaranteed to wiggle her way in. So we might as well accept doubt as a passenger.

So how do we stay in the driver seat?

The answer lies in faith and passion. Our faith in our self and our passion to create must be stronger than our fear of failure.

When doubt-filled fear starts to rise up, this is my process to dissolve it and reconnect with my faith and passion. I invite you to try it and see if it works for you too.

  1. Disprove doubt by doing The Work™ on the underlying thoughts (aka limiting beliefs). Common ones include, “I can’t do (insert big, bold thing).” OR “If I were __________ enough, ________ would be easy.” OR “Good (insert role or business) make lots of money, bad ones don’t.”
  2. Wherever you’re stuck, or whatever obstacle seems to keep you frozen, imagine it as a person, place or thing. Utilizing all your senses, experience every aspect of this symbol in your mind’s eye. Then ask yourself what you want to happen in this scenario. The answer to solving your problem lies in applying that desired action (or non-action) at the metaphoric level to your current circumstance at the literal level.
  3. Give yourself time and space for creative expression in whatever form feels yummy. That could be doodling, singing and dancing to a favorite pump-up song(s), going outside to take photos of nature, or cooking a new recipe you’ve wanted to try. Something that gets your mind off self-doubt and allows you to connect with your creativity.
  4. Post up some inspirational quotes in your work and living space. Some of my favorites that remind me I’m on the path to amazing include:

“This is the time to shine in the light of our medicine and speak our truth. The elders say we are the ones we have been waiting for. Give yourself and the world the gift of stepping into the full experience of your power, presence and magnificence.” ~ Gail Larsen, Transformational Speaking

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” ~ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” ~ Neil Strauss

Overcoming doubt is an ongoing process, one that gets easier the more frequently you kick her to the back seat. Be patient and kind to yourself. What you’re doing is not easy, AND it’s worth it! Keep coming back to the tools that work and one day, you’ll see how far you’ve come!

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If you’re still having some trouble putting Doubt in the passenger seat, let’s talk. I can help facilitate steps one and two of this process to go deeper.

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Stop the Pretense of Success to Actually be Successful

Sprout in Hand

Building a business from scratch is extremely hard. AND it’s profoundly rewarding. There’s truth in the expectation that entrepreneurs will invest about two years of solid hustle before their business is profitable. I’m proof to support that.

It’s like planting a seed. It takes time, tender care, the proper environment and resources (sun, water, nutrients) to grow. You may not even see the sprout break ground until it’s time, and yet so much is happening under the surface to get there.

For the first two years of my business, I admit that I didn’t want anyone to know that I only had a half-dozen clients. I didn’t lie about it; I just danced around the answer without giving one. Like somehow not being an instant, rolling-in-the-dough success meant that I was failing.

I knew my clients were glowingly happy with our sessions and offering unsolicited referrals and testimonials. I was learning, growing and building expertise in a completely new industry for me. And yet, I had attributed my value as a coach to how much money I was making…to what was showing on the surface.

I feared that if my clients (or potential clients) knew they were only one of a handful that they’d assume I must not be good at what I do and go find a better coach. (Talk about limiting belief!)

Then I explored Acuity (a scheduling SaaS) and saw the feature “Make me look busy” with the customized option to block any percentage of time available. I realized that I’m not the only one pretending to have more clients than I do. To be a feature, this must be an in-demand need of small businesses. Make me look busier than I really am.

So I started having blunt conversations with my peers. Even the excellent coaches that I greatly admired weren’t as busy as I’d assumed or they let on. They were relieved to know I wasn’t either. Well, imagine that.

Anyone who sells overnight success with a simple and glitzy, new fandangle process is preying upon our desire for instant gratification. Like the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Yes, manifesting is real. It’s not all work. Resting and playing as forms of self-care is an important part, too. And yes, overnight demand explosions happen…but it’s the exception, not the rule.

The Hero’s Journey is real. It requires persistence, patience and passion. If you are passionate about it, it makes all the patience and persistent effort worth it. Coaching, to me, is absolutely worth it. I love what I do. I even love the planning, marketing and learning how to run my business better. I would start at the beginning and do it all again if I needed to because I love being a coach. It’s one of the best feelings in the world when my clients have insights and breakthroughs.

The sooner we own up to the fact that starting a new business takes time and a whole lot of effort, the sooner we can all be more successful because we stop comparing ourselves to others who are also pretending to be wildly successful. We can stop believing that we must be doing something wrong because our peers have more clients than we do. Or thinking the coaches who are charging more must be better coaches. When we release those limiting beliefs, we actually do better and accomplish more.

I’m breathing easier knowing that it’s supposed to be hard and take time. I can relax into the process and allow it to unfold as it is intended to. For all you entrepreneurs out there with a vision, keep going! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t worry about your speed, you’ll break the earth’s surface when it’s time; and when you do, we’ll all admire the sprouting beauty.