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Is self-doubt part of being a great business woman?

07 March 2011

I've just been to a fascinating talk by Kate Lamont, Celebrity Chef, at the latest Rubyconnection event. Wow! It was so good I took notes. What struck me in particular was her confession of self-doubt.

Despite all the success she has and the positions she holds, (e.g. Managing Director of Lamont Wineries, Chair of the WA Tourism Commission, Chair of CCI's Small Enterprise Network and more), here she was standing in front of over 100 women confessing to self-doubt.

\"I am riddled with self-doubt, it defeats my up-tempo bravado\" she says, \"but I never deny the feeling as it is very real\".

I describe Kate as \"confessing to self-doubt\" quite deliberately because how many of us have self-doubt but try to keep it hidden? We worry that we will be found out or are failing in some way.

Let me be bold. I think self-doubt is a good thing. In fact, I think self-doubt in any business woman is essential.

Kate's speech left me reflecting on my own self-doubt. Do I have self-doubt? Yes! When do I have self-doubt?

When I take on new challenges requiring me to step into work or a situation I haven't faced before.

When I take on a lot of extra work and I know there is a danger I may become tired.

When I have said or done something that causes an unexpected negative response on another person's face.

When I have done a brilliant speech, workshop or coaching session and I get invited back for a repeat performance. Suddenly the bar of expectation has been raised, I gave it my all the first time, can I be even better next time?

Does this mean I am a quivering wreck of nerves? No, I am a confidence coach and a professional speaker who can take to a stage and speak in-front of hundreds without a worry. I am confident running my own business, handling staff and dealing with difficult people, in showing love and affection, in meeting and greeting strangers, in standing up for myself in business negotiations. But I still have self-doubt. It is normal. Isn't it? It is even healthy, surely?

What Kate so clearly shows is that no one is 100% confident. I even read in BRW magazine recently that Michael Chaney has self-doubt too! What this means is we can stop hiding it, fearing it or thinking there is a problem and we are in some way not good enough or a fake.

Self-doubt is normal. Self-doubt is good. Well I think so anyway, but what do you think?

How do I find self-doubt can be of value?


It stops me from rushing headlong into situations without finding out what I need to know.

It makes me go the extra mile and find even better ways to do things.

It encourages me to keep me doing everything I need to ensure I am healthy so I stay energised during a heavy workload.

It helps me to make good decisions so I can say \"no\" when I need to.

It encourages me to self-reflect on what I say and how I say it, on my impact on others, on whether I am truly helping a person or not.

It gives me a nudge to re-evaluate what I do in my business, how I run my business and whether I am using my strengths in the best way possible.

What's on the other side of self-doubt? Complacency. Since when has that helped us as business women? That's far more likely to lead to failure.

Of course, we can also let self-doubt paralyse us. We can let it take hold and fail to take action. We can let it knock our self-esteem and self-confidence to the extent that we fail to take the steps needed to run a successful business. We become overly cautious, we stop adapting to change and we become stuck thinking we are no good.

Do you have self-doubt? How does it make you feel? What is your self-doubt about? What do you do when you have it? Is self-doubt a good thing?

Tell us your experiences and let's follow Kate's example and go public on our self-doubt. After all, when we do, and we discover it is a normal part of every successful woman's business life we can be free of its negative grip and use it to help us be even better business women.

Three cheers to Kate Lamont and her self-doubt.

If you want to know more about overcoming self-doubt or building your confidence and self-esteem Confident Woman Australia has over 100 free articles on self-esteem, self-confidence and managing anxiety for Australian women. It includes articles on confident presentations, confidence in meetings, confidence skills when networking, self-confidence for business owners, confidence skills with deadpan males and lots more.