Thursday, August 18th, 2016
Doubt is fundamental to all discovery, learning and growth. It’s an inherent element of the scientific method, and the precursor to all great questions and breakthroughs. Doubt births wisdom. It’s what we unpack when we do slow thinking, and it’s deeply linked to quality ideas. Doubt is uncomfortable, sure — but we know that all growth and development happens just outside our comfort zone.
Doubt is a natural part of the decision making process. All executives have doubt. In fact, dealing with doubt is a key function of leadership. A decision that has no risk or uncertainty should be made at a low level without getting executives involved. Leadership is not about acting without doubt. Leadership is about intelligently managing doubt so you are free to act boldly and confidently.
Doubt is a guide to seek information and ask questions. Experienced leaders use doubt as an informational divining rod. Their doubt serves as a tool they use to point to areas that need investigating and research. Years of experience and dozens of projects have given them intuition about uncertainty, risks and impact. Doubt illuminates the path to clarity.
No big decision comes without uncertainty. Opportunities have a narrow window and competitors are always looking to eat your lunch. Successful executives learn to balance the risk of acting with uncertainty against the opportunity cost of not acting. By continually assessing and quantifying these two forces, the tipping point of decisiveness can be found and action subsequently taken.
Summing-up: To grow, we must learn to become comfortable with doubt and to strike the right balance in our decision making process. Embrace your doubt and use it to hone your decision making. Focus your energy by being mindful of your doubts. And calibrate your scale for weighing the risk and reward of taking timely action.