I was talking to someone yesterday who is considering taking a new job, but is has doubts about his capacity to do it. I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a series of checklists for new leaders one of which was New Leader: Manager Your Doubts. What follows is an extract from it.
Doubts can be healthy tools of learning and decision making, but they can also be paralyzing. You can get tied up in the anxieties your doubts create and then make no decisions or wrong decisions. You can jeopardize your leadership position by being tentative or by struggling alone with either professional or personal doubts. Your challenge is to acknowledge your doubts and then to manage them competently and confidently to your benefit and your organization's. In their article Why Should Anyone be Led by You? Goffee and Jones describe the way that Richard Branson (CEO Virgin) is not good at being interviewed, but is disarming in his approach to revealing his doubts about interviews and his ability to handle them. Here are some pointers to help you manage your doubts.
Be kind to yourself
Handled badly, having doubts can be an energy drainer, a time waster, and an opportunity risk. Handled well they can be the opposite - energizing, a good time investment, and an opportunity enabler. It depends how you think of them. If you get caught in a negative spiral - going over and over the doubts in your mind with no way out then you're not doing yourself justice. Recognize that doubts are healthy, they are inevitable, and they can be used wisely. Ask yourself questions that help turn the negative downwards spiral to a positive upwards spiral.