Overcoming self-doubt: "I think I did well, but…"Blog added by Sandy Schussel on November 14, 2013
Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel

Princeton, NJ

Joined: December 10, 2011

My Company

Sandy Schussel, LLC

You know the feeling: You gave the presentation of your life; you were on fire. Every question was met with a dazzling, intelligent, concise answer. The very idea that you wanted to share with your clients or prospective clients found its way into your head and flowed bountifully into your words. But, as you're driving home, you're not so sure. They seemed to love most of what you spoke about, but there was something about their comparison of your services to the competitor's that might have indicated a preference for the competitor's services.

And then there were those few awkward seconds when your attempt at humor went right over their heads, and those few moments when you remember feeling you were a bit "salesy" or sounded a little too desperate. (And maybe there was a piece of food from lunch stuck in your teeth.) Maybe it wasn't the presentation of your life.

Growing your network, giving presentations, and meeting with prospects and clients definitely has its ups and downs. When the adrenaline rush starts to dissipate, the self-doubts to which we are all susceptible come flooding in. We begin to analyze what we've done, finding fault with enough things to replace all the confidence we had a few moments before with an empty, aching feeling that we've somehow botched the whole endeavor. We say, "That presentation went well, but…"

I often talk about a creature whose original purpose was to prevent you from roaming out into the streets, or beyond the borders of your "safe neighborhood." As you grew and expanded that neighborhood, however, the "but" monster — the voice inside your head that doubts any risk you take, no matter how rewarding it could be — learned to hide better, but grew with you. Now, when he pops up out of nowhere, he's angry that you got past him in the first place to make that important call or presentation. So, he welcomes you back home to him with the doubts that should have kept you from venturing out in the first place.

"Yes, you wanted to fly, but … you're really out of your league here."

"Sure it was a good presentation, but … you don't really know that much and your competition is probably much better, anyway."

"It was a good presentation, but … they were probably stuck staring at that food in your teeth."

"Why don't you just stay here where it's safe?" he urges. And he could be speaking powerfully enough to keep you wallowing in that self-doubt and causing you to avoid the next venture altogether.

But don't let that dreaded monster beat you. Here are some ideas that might help.
You can't stop the negative feelings from arising, so let them.

Your lifelong gatekeeper is strong, immortal and immutable. The one thing you can do is let him rattle on, but recognize that the doubts he raises are a natural reaction to your choice to go beyond your safe neighborhood. If you've accepted the concept that it's OK to be afraid in the pursuit of your goals, then accept this corollary: You can't stop the self-doubts, but you can decide to not let them slow you down.

It doesn't matter, anyway.

No deal, no presentation and no single event should matter so much that actually "blowing it" could possibly destroy your life or career. Get over your doubts about this one by jumping right into the next one. Hey, if nothing else, you'll have a new disaster to worry about.

Let go of your outcomes.

Set your goals, do the things you need to do to reach those goals, and then stop worrying about how an individual situation works out. For every call or presentation you actually mess up, there will be another you get right.

See also:

The benefits of doing something uncomfortable

Your game plan for releasing your inner champion in your business

Why too much positive thinking leads to failure
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