Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fears and Doubts

Even the most confident among us have fears and doubts at times and how they handle those situations serve as behaviors to model. I study this as a hobby. I am especially interested in how confident managers handle occasional insecurity and self-doubt.

I often wonder but rarely ask where they go to find strength before, during or more importantly after making an unpopular decision. What things deep inside enable them to do that, and then effortlessly justify their actions in the face of criticism?

Today I am a confident man in most aspects of my life but as a percentage of my whole life that confidence is relatively small. I have fears and doubts but I accept that as natural. A helpful statement I repeat in my head whenever I have doubts is a line from one of the Dirty Harry movies: “A man has got to know his limitations.” Silly in some ways, profound in others. Basically it means accept that you’re not perfect.

When I see a manager make decisions with great confidence over and over again, especially if it is somebody I know well, I look for evidence of insecurities. Nobody is always confident. Nobody is always fearless and doubt-free. I can accept decisions I don’t like much more readily if I know that the decision-maker had at least a little self-doubt while contemplating those decisions. That tells me they are confident but not arrogant. They know there is a chance their decision is wrong, but they weighed the evidence, considered the factors (including the ones I might not know about) and made their decision.

Analyzing how they deal with doubt helps me learn how to deal with my own. Management decisions in business are not the same as personal decisions but the process is much the same. I learn a lot by studying my managers at work and it turns out they sometimes learn from me too. I have their confidence and they have mine.

Seems like I should have a profound close here but I don’t. Just wanted to share an observation.

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