Leadership – Grappling with Self-Doubt

Originally Published May 14, 2018

Originally Published May 14, 2018

Each year I get the same nervous feeling when the season starts. Questions enter my mind that I really cannot answer as I do not know the future. Questions like, “How will I be able to best get through to the players?”, “How will the team progress through the season?”, “Will all of the players have a passion for the game when the season ends?” These questions go on through my head as I prepare to meet the 14U girls’ lacrosse team that I will be coaching. Some of these girls, I have been helping to coach since they were 6 or 7 years old. There are others who will be introduced to the game this season, with me as their first coach.

These questions do not quell when I am placed in a new relationship or role in business. There are times that I feel as though I am under-qualified for the expectations placed upon me at work. I wonder, “Am I truly the best person for this task or duty?” I can almost convince myself that I am an imposter and not competent for my position. If we are honest with ourselves, we all struggle with self-doubt when we find ourselves in a new relationship or leadership role. For those who claim that they are not nervous, tenuous, or doubtful when faced with a new challenge, I would suggest that they are not stretching themselves. 

Feeling self-doubt is not the same as acting on those feelings. When I step onto the practice field for the first time in the season, it is time to set aside the questions and get working on molding a team. The questions do not disappear, but need to be set aside for a time while the team works through drills, building and ensconcing basic skills, gaining cardio-vascular growth, and coming together in the execution of playing as a team. In the beginning, there are frequent times where we need to stop and adjust patterns and responses to play on the field. As the season progresses, the players look more and more like a team. They are passing to the open teammates, anticipating opposition movement, communicating to help prevent opposition scoring, catching the difficult passes, and out hustling the more experienced players on the other team.

There is always room for me to improve as a coach. I keep asking myself these questions and continue to gather more information on practice drills and ways to motivate. The only way that I can see improvement as a leader is when I see team members developing as individuals and collectively as a team. More important than me seeing improvement, are the players seeing themselves as growing in skills, attitude, and knowledge of and towards the game? Do the parents see that these young ladies are just as incredible as I see them as they push themselves on the field of play? 

How does this translate to the business world? After all, as grown adults, most of us do not have the privilege of hanging out and practicing all the time...or do we? The questions we ask ourselves when challenged need to be heeded. The curiosity behind those questions only proves that you have a desire to achieve excellence. Will you hit that target the first time you try? It is highly unlikely that perfection will be in your grasp...ever. In any leadership role where I have served I have found that the more I learn about my responsibilities, the more I have a long way to go to achieve perfection. As I learn more about my leadership role I realize, I do not have all the answers. I gain more understanding that in the throws of competition, I still am learning to communicate with teammates, be driven to out hustle the competition, find ways to anticipate the opponent and intercept what is meant to be a pass to a teammate. In a sense, we are always on the practice field trying to improve.

The things we learn in team sports apply to many areas of life. I suggest that it is never too late to attempt being part of a competitive team. Whether it is kick-ball, softball, soccer, flag-football, dragon boats, crew, etc. you can learn to work through your self-doubt. Going into any “playing field” gives you an opportunity to make mistakes, but also pick yourself back up and recover...learning to not repeat the same action. Perhaps, you learn that that what you thought was a mistake, really was the right thing to do and in the long-run the game flows in your favor. The self-doubt in your mind is simply an ingrained desire to achieve greatness. It is also and experience in understanding how each team member has a unique gift/skill that the bring to the team. Use the nervous energy in your favor and be fully committed to achieving excellence with everything you have been taught and learned to get you into this position. In your pursuit of being great, never give up.


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For more information on the GSI where Todd is a Sr. Client Success Manager - https://www.getgsi.com/