Updated: Jun 17
Self-doubt can hold entrepreneurs back and affect their levels of success. It causes hesitation, indecision, procrastination, and possibly anxiety.
The good news is that it's just a habit. And habits can be managed and changed.
I recently listened to Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” podcast with Mel Robbins titled “Letting Go of Negative Thoughts & Redirecting Your Energy to Self Transformation.”
Mel described self-doubt so well: “Self-doubt grows when you engage in negative talk to talk yourself out of the things you want to try. There’s so much pain in talking yourself out of trying things. We waste years really feeling this desire to try something and then putting all our energy into talking ourselves out if it.”
Mel's solution is to keep taking action, in the smallest possible way, but towards the direction we really want to go.
This solution is really the only sure route to growing our confidence and our risk-taking threshold. Why? If we push too far too fast beyond our comfort zone (i.e. beyond our current skills and knowledge), we'll break. And if we stay where we are, well, we'll go nowhere or even fall behind.
So we must make the decision to try and keep trying. As Mel says: confidence is the “willingness or decision to try” and self-doubt is “the decision not to try!”
One tool that helps me take these small actions when my self-doubt creeps in is going through a list of quotes and affirmations that I've curated over time.
I'd like to share some of these quotes with you in the hope that they'll help boost your confidence when needed.
My Top 30 Quotes To Overcome Self-Doubt
You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great. – Zig Ziglar
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao Tzu
It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish. - Jim George
It always seems impossible until it’s done. - Nelson Mandela
Believe you can, and you’re halfway there. - Theodore Roosevelt.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. - Mark Twain
It’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay not to try. - unknown
The best is the enemy of the good. - Voltaire
Never let what you don’t know stop you from doing what you do know. – Orrin Woodward
There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. —Paulo Coelho
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts. —Winston Churchill
You can’t fail. You can only get a result. – unknown
We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success. —Arianna Huffington
Failure is nothing more than an opportunity to revise our strategy. - unknown
The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. —Henry Ford
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. - Albert Einstein.
If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. - Napoleon Hill
Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. —Denis Waitley
Restlessness is discontent – and discontent is the first necessity to progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man – and I will show you a failure. – Thomas Edison
Courage is how much action you’re willing to take before you’re ready. – Lama Haj Ibrahim
Courage is the willingness to do what is important to you even if it might expose your weaknesses. It is choosing progress over fear of embarrassing yourself. – Lama Haj Ibrahim
Small consistent actions over time lead to big results. Lama Haj Ibrahim
Don’t judge your day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. - Robert Louis Stevenson
Don’t rush the process. Trust it. Good things take time. – unknown
Great acts are made up of small deeds. - Lao Tzu
When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor. – Elon Musk
Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. – Peter Marshall
Don’t give up! Life can go from zero to 100 real quick. – Shirley Chrisholm
I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed. - Robert H. Schuller
Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe. —Sumner Redstone
A Few Words of Advice
Choose your favorite quotes and read them daily until you memorize them. When you memorize quotes that help you be more resilient and productive, they become part of your core beliefs and you can easily remember them when you're feeling insecure. I like practicing them in two ways:
1) I write them down every week in my weekly planner which will always be in front of me as I work, and
2) I stick a few post it notes in my bedroom and office.
Magnitude and quality are irrelevant. When you’re starting something new, don’t think of the magnitude or the quality of your actions. What really matters is the frequency and direction of your actions. Choose quantity over quality. Are you repeating your actions frequently enough that every action feels a bit more comfortable that the previous one? Are these actions becoming part of who you are and what you do?
Redefine the meaning of success. We often think of success as that one-time big flashy achievement. In reality, what really counts are small wins as they are your building blocks for that big goal. Each small win counts. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them. And I’m not talking here about just positive outcomes. Small wins count every time you had the courage to take an action you were uncomfortable with, learned from it and got a result, whether it turned out to be positive or negative.
Redefine the meaning of failure. Is there really such a thing called failure? Aren’t these failures giving you the answers you need so you know the right direction? In the quotes I've shared, you will find so many new definitions of failure that reframe how we look at it. One of my favorites is the last part of Arianna Huffington's quote "failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success."
Shift the meaning of work - in business and personal sides. Your work should be about connectedness and doing something for each other. When you think of work as serving others, it becomes a purpose that impacts not only your life but the lives of others. It becomes an innate motivator and brings so much more meaning to what you’re doing. Once your work becomes purposeful, your perseverance multiplies.
Ultimately, progress, connectedness and serving others are the only real sources of happiness and fulfillment. Focus on them whenever your self-doubt creeps in and let go of any expectations. Enjoy the journey!
May the Force be with you :)