Doubting our own self-doubt


The only way to allay doubt is to do. We must face our biggest fears. Perhaps the only thing holding back J.K. Rowling from success was her fear of public speaking — she did it anyway.

It’s most often the thing we’re scared of is exactly the thing we should be doing. It takes courage to persist with tension that wants us to simply give up.

Accept doubt for what it is — it’s there to make you practice and force your confidence. It takes some getting used to.

The trick is not to get rid of uncertainty but rather to play with it, to feel its presence, to caper around as we relax into it. The approach is a bit delusional but no more faulty than suffering more in the imagination than in reality.

Doubters can be doers

  • Fear creates indecision and thwarts action.
  • Fear causes anxiety and kills brain cells.
  • Fear constrains freedom and the will to fight or run away.

The only way to face fear is to either accept it or face it again and again so that you become bored of it. Repetition weakens anxiety.

But eradicating fear is impossible and thereby never a goal. Audacity remains the only constant for taking control.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

Tiers of Doubt

  • There are doubters on the level of atheists that refuse to accept any answer as true. This group dislikes the notion of certainty and group think.

  • There are doubters that question everything as a means of exploration, a philosophy of life. They see endless opportunities in all things but they are more thinkers than actors.

  • There are doubters that are worriers. They stress over uncertainty, unable to make decisions on anything that’s unproven. Worrying is the enemy of action.

  • There are also passionate doubters that tend to be more open to things and pragmatically test. These doubters are willing to experiment for the sake of being wrong or proven more right.

Doubt is an elastic mindset with many different interpretations and emotions about an evolving world.

Doubt is essential to questioning the way things are but for reasons of making them better.

Doubters can be better choosers and better leaders.

The Shrink & The Sage: What is the benefit of doubt?

Whatever the conclusion, the real benefit of the doubt is that it enables you to see all sides of an issue. Hence the origin of the word in the Latin duo, two. The doubter is in at least two minds. Whether or not she ends up following only one, she should be able to appreciate better the strengths and weaknesses of the others.

Rise above sidedness.

To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

— Yann Martel

Malcolm Gladwell: Albert O. Hirschman and the Power of Failure

The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky. Then, trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth—and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job.

You don’t need to know in order to do.  In, fact you just need to have some doubt and then just go.  

Doubt, in fact, could motivate


Skeptics are fantastic thinkers simply because they think the opposite of everyone else and deny any certainty.

But skepticism is sometimes used as an excuse for inaction.

Denying existence is a cop-out if there’s no creative work to back it up.

Skeptics are as equally as responsible as conformists. They have the responsibility to show how they reject possibility.

Doubt is only a depressing and gloomy disease when it’s clumsy. Questioning is a prompt for action.



We need a little skepticism to be free thinkers. Doubt is what pushes is to think outside the box. But we have to balance uncertainty with the facts, the stuff that works.

Skepticism, like coffee, is the jolt we need to reexamine habits. It gets us started. As the questioning fades, we come back to the realization that some things are valid and unchanging for a good reason.

You only break things to make them better. The whole is the sum of the parts. The iPhone broke Nokia and Blackberry. Apple is working to disrupt the television as we know it. Apple may fail.

Every invention/reinvention gets put to the test. Acceptance signals what’s working. Marketing usually helps with that.

Innovation starts at the bottom of S-curve and then peaks out. Those that ride the wave at the top will win for some time before burning out. Those that ride the wave of opportunity and remain skeptic and open to improvement will likely make another lasting change.

There is no guarantee but the willingness to try and make fact.