by John Houston
We’ve all been there. Business is good, we’re moving along and we feel confident and upbeat about the progress we are making. And then, suddenly, something happens and we find ourselves filled with doubt.
For me, new challenges or requirements needed to lead my team can trigger these feelings of uncertainty. These situations can create feelings of inadequacy and, if we’re not careful, we can really mess things up by making decisions that are rooted in pride (It’s OK, I’ve got this!) rather than humility (Maybe I need some outside help here).
If this rings a bell with you, know that you are not alone! And that, actually, you are right where you should be because, guess what? Just like me, you’re not smart enough on your own. So, let the pressure and stress go. When we look to God to lead us daily, trusting that he will guide us, we are in a perfect position to realize our dependency on him.
Then, with his leading, we can respond well to the “oh no’s” and “what ifs” that surface. Here’s what I do when doubts come calling:
Acknowledge my limitations
I admit that I don’t always know what I am doing: I’m often stepping into new territory. While it may initially feel uncomfortable to admit I’ve not done something before, leading with humility brings huge relief. And it also breaks down barriers with my team and helps bond us. We corporately acknowledge our reliance on God, and we are more united as we move forward.
This approach also has a great side effect: it empowers others to use their talents when tackling the situation and learn from the experience, rather than always depending on me to have the answers as “the leader.”
Ask God for help
Many times I’ve been honest with him about my feelings of inadequacy. It goes something like this, “God, I know you’re calling me up and asking me to do more, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to be the father, the husband, the CEO of a large company you’re calling me to be. How do I do this?”
Most of the time, he will remind me that he is my strength. I can bring him everything and trust he will provide all I need, as I continue to surrender to him.
Accept others’ input
In seeking counsel from other people, I prioritize time with two groups: mentors outside the business and team members and direct reports inside.
Beyond the company, I look to Spirit-led mentors who have gone before me. I reach out and ask questions. I ask for their guidance and prayer. After all, what may seem impossible to me could be similar to a situation they’ve already walked through. I’d rather learn from someone else’s experience than make my own trial-and-error attempts.
Internally, sometimes the mentor I need is someone who reports to me. I go to my top-level leaders all the time; I recognize they’re smarter and have different expertise and understanding in areas where I have lack.
Doubts are sure to come, but they don’t have to paralyze or derail us if we respond carefully and prayerfully.