Make self-doubt your ally
“The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
So we may not be scared to death but many of us, including me, are guilty of doubting our abilities from time to time. If you’ve been attentive to the marketing messages on social media the battle cry is to ‘create more content’ to stay ahead. More and more business owners and organisations now get it, and have prioritised creating content to connect with their audience. It’s this ongoing conflict between self-doubt and our untapped talent (and maybe our genius ideas) that I want focus on in this post.
One of the many approving things I read in the brilliant book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, was the way he expressed self-doubt as something that ‘serves as an indicator of aspiration.’ “If you find yourself asking yourself, Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” (or can I create consistent content?) Chances are you are.” And you can.
It’s easy to give the label genius to people like Youtube giant, Casey Neistat, who chose to be in control of the videos he creates, over working for a big name Film or TV production company, or Tina Wells, who started a teen market research company at the age of just 16. Then there’s Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, which uses a brilliant business model to support those in need with every purchase made.
To give ourselves such a worthy title sits uncomfortably with most of us, and so it should. Let’s be honest, it would be extremely arrogant to go around telling everyone, either verbally or in your personal bio, that you are infact an actual genius : ) What I’m discussing here is the importance of believing that you have something unique and valuable to offer your organisation or community.
“A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck.” Seth Godin
In his introduction to the his book Linchpin, Seth Godin confronts us with the thought that we are all in fact, geniuses? but not all the time ; ) According to Godin, the reason that most of us struggle to accept this, is that our ‘genius’ over time, has been drummed out of us by our family, schooling, bosses, or government. The road to genius is paved with plenty of errors along the way, however society frowns on us if we make mistakes or even worse, fail. As toddlers, we learn by failing. Yet this is the very thing we struggle to embrace as adults. If we truly want to create something unique and innovative we need to go back to having this child-like curiosity and resilience. Remember that the next time you see a baby getting back up again after they’ve just fallen for the tenth time.
This may sound somewhat far fetched, but if you’ve ever solved a problem that your colleagues, family or friends couldn’t, then in that moment you are a genius. The challenge for you is to change your mind-set and get used to the fact that every day is an opportunity for you to do or create something amazing… even genius!
One area of self-doubt I have is with writing. I love to write, I’m OK at it – not brilliant, but I often held myself back because I didn’t think my ideas were good enough. Another reasons was I simply didn’t want to add to the glut of content already out there on the topic of content marketing. I found it hard to find inspiration and actually stopped writing on this blog for a very long time *holds head in shame,* then unfortunately some of life’s challenges got in the way and my blog was simply left to gather dust.
That is in the past thankfully, but the self-doubt after years of not writing was a little overwhelming. So I was incredibly grateful to stumble across a fantastic book, The Writer’s Process by Anne H. Janzer, which has helped change how I approach writing – if you want to improve your writing process go get it! For me to get back to writing and enjoying it again meant that the doubts I had about my abilities and ideas had to be dealt with. In Chapter 6, she lays out 6 ways to help change the way you think about your world in relation to writing, I’m going to focus on 3 of those points.
1. Let your actions shift your mindset.
“Don’t have any good ideas, or doubt your capabilities? Write anyway. Anne encourages us to simply get into the habit of writing on a consistent basis. By writing on a regular basis you are contradicting the doubts about your abilities with behaviour.
2. Recognising your unique perspective.
As I said earlier one of the things that stopped me in my tracks when it came to writing on my blog was the fact that I was seeing the same things on content marketing over and over again. I didn’t want to simply rinse and repeat other people’s content… on content marketing.
The idea of recognising your unique perspective speaks for itself. It more important how you share your story than how ‘original’ it is. There are a group of people that only you can connect with, they get your point of view and will love the way you express your ideas. Imagine that your ideal audience is tired of the stuff that’s out there and looking for content just like yours.
“If you wait for a perfect and original idea, you may never discover your unique contribution.” In other words, thinking you’re idea isn’t unique, or perfect enough is not a good enough excuse to decide not to write, or whatever it is you want to create.
3. Do something uncomfortable.
The idea of this point is do something a little different that’s outside of your normal area of expertise 1. to challenge your limiting beliefs about your abilities and 2. to see where it could lead. The author shared how she chose to write about a topic she wasn’t familiar with and how it subsequently opened her up to new opportunities. By doing this she was immediately seen as the expert on the topic, which led to her stepping into the world of public speaking on a scale she wasn’t used to.
By deciding to master this thing you know nothing about, you immediately counter your self-doubt. Remember growth often comes from discomfort.
Even though these steps are written specifically for those that aspire to write more efficiently, they can also be tweaked for other types of content you wish to master and use to communicate with audience. So you want to write more, do a podcast or even video? Constantly doubting oneself without making any change or progress is not going to serve you or the people whose lives you are destined to impact with your content.
Use the steps above as a guide, but more importantly, take action!
‘You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you create is precious.
Only you can do it, and you must.’