2 Questions to Defeat Doubt

Time to read: a teeny bit over one minute

The stage at Hadestown

The stage at Hadestown

You're in a meeting. You say something risky. The room goes silent. One of your colleagues replies, and the meeting moves on. After the meeting, you run your words over and over in your head. You wonder if your colleague thinks you're an idiot. You wonder if you should have kept your mouth shut.

Doubt runs roughshod over your confidence and energy.

Doubt is a story older than time.

My daughter and I spent Labor Day weekend in NYC eating and going to Broadway. We saw Hadestown, a sublime retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. (If you have a chance to see this show, go. Amazing music. Wonderful story. A parable for life and work.)

Spoiler alert.

If you know your Greek myths, you know how the story ends. Orpheus and Eurydice strike a deal with Hades that they can leave hell, but only if Eurydice walks behind and Orpheus doesn't turn around. The voices of doubt overtake Orpheus, and he turns his head to check that Eurydice is there. As soon as he turns, Eurydice returns to hell and heartbreak ensues. When the show was over, I was sobbing in my seat. (My daughter was mortified.)

Of course, I was sad by the unhappy ending. More than that, I was pissed that doubt won. I wanted so badly for this old tale of love and trust to end with trust. It didn't.

So, what does this have to do with you and your work?

Very often, doubt wins. Doubt overtakes you, and you metaphorically end up in hell, even if it's only the darkness and confusion in your own mind.

What do you do about it? Here are two questions to ask yourself when doubt creeps in:

  1. What am I trying to get away with? Maybe you want to hide after the meeting and wish your comment would disappear.

  2. What do I not want to be responsible for? It might be a good idea to check in with your colleague. Talking to her feels uncomfortable and vulnerable. You'll get feedback. You don't want to take responsibility for whatever impact you had in the meeting. Not asking about it means it didn't happen (see #1).

What to do: Go straight into the discomfort and ask, "I'd like to check in with you about the meeting. Do you have a minute?"

You'll feel better. You'll defeat doubt. And trust will win.

I hope this helps.