Friday, April 15, 2016
The Courage to Doubt
If you could take a ‘Courage and Doubt Test’ just like you can take an intelligent test like the WISC-IV or a personality test like the Myers Briggs, how would you score on this Courage and Doubt test? How would you score on items such as:
The courage to take risks and possibly make mistakes
The courage to choose and not choose something else
The courage to let go of total control
The courage to truly delegate
The courage to be vulnerable
The courage to doubt yourself and show it
Lets zoom in on the latter: your ability (and willingness!) to doubt yourself. What is your outlook on doubt? Is it a sign of weakness, a sign of strength, both, neither? Does it depend on your position with the company, on the setting that you’re operating in, or does it depend on whether you’re meeting with your own team or with the organization’s top management?
If you believe that doubt undermines your authority and influence, you probably go to great length to eliminate or suppress doubt. This can lead to dogmatism and intolerance towards people who raise concerns, towards team members voicing uncomfortable questions, and towards people who simply have a different perspective from yours.
What is your outlook on doubt? Maybe you believe that doubt is a useful third eye. Maybe you realize that doubt puts a brake on overreliance on set ways of thinking, deciding, and doing. If this is you, you will likely embrace doubting thoughts because you realize doubt helps you take a step back, it helps you look at a situation from a different perspective, and it makes you wonder what the devil’s advocate has to say. Doubting your assumptions and thinking patterns helps you reduce self-deception, cognitive bias, and fossilization of your thinking.
No, you do not want to be paralyzed by excessive and insistent doubt, yet giving doubt a voice keeps you open-minded, fresh, less judgmental, and flexible.