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A Lesson in Doubt (#4)

The Confident Leader

Chris, the CEO of his business, started our coaching session by asking, “Be honest with me, have I hit my leadership ceiling?” He shared his doubt about his ability to lead his team. His recent decisions had fallen flat as he navigated the gantlet of hyper growth prior to Covid-19.


All successful leaders experience doubt, but they don’t routinely talk about it. This makes defeating doubt challenging. How can leaders effectively move through doubt to achieve the impact they are called to make?

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”
— – Franklin D. Roosevelt

This Week’s Edition

As a leader, how do you think about your leadership doubt?  Can a challenge or failure you want to forget act to improve your leadership confidence?

Clarify Your Thinking

Matt, a CEO client, recently closed his business due to the pandemic. The collapsing economy hit his industry hard. He just wanted to move past the whole episode, spend five months recuperating and start again in 2021.


“I don’t know how I am going to recover from this. I just need a break to forget everything.” He confessed.

“How confident are you that you will be successful in your next leadership role?” I asked.

“I don’t really know, sort of confident I guess.” He offered. “Maybe 70% confident?”

“Well, 70% confident is 30% doubtful, and doubt changes your leadership performance level every time.” I shared.

“I want to be fully confident like I used to be. How do I increase my future leadership confidence?” He asked.


I hear this question from leaders often. The better question is: How do I defeat my doubt? Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty about something. Most leaders don’t like uncertainty, because it is uncomfortable. Consequently, leaders attempt to push doubt aside hoping it will fade.


“Matt, why do you think you are not more confident about your future leadership?” I asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? I am coming off a failure and I’m not sure I will ever be able to succeed again. I don’t want to fail again!”


There it was, Matt’s thinking issue: I don’t want to fail again. He is focused on what he does not want, failure. I asked him to refocus his thinking, “What do you want?” At first, he struggled, but after a few minutes, he finally answered, “I want to learn from my mistakes.”


This thinking clarity moved Matt from potentially forgetting his experience (and the wealth of knowledge it possessed) to searching actively for the information that will produce the insights and ideas that will grow his leadership confidence in future endeavors. Read how he did this below.


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

If Matt’s new thinking was to learn from his mistakes, how should he go about doing this?


Who among us wants to willingly dredge up past failures in hopes of finding a nugget of wisdom or two? Very few. Courageously, Matt took my coach’s challenge: make a list of all the lessons you learned along the arduous journey to keep your business afloat only to end up shutting it down.


Amid the rubble of Matt’s failed venture, he found over 40 leadership lessons. He shared each with me. As he told the story behind each lesson, I could see the pain of the event subside. In its place, I could feel his confidence rising. He declared that he had earned hard-fought leadership wisdom that would boost his confidence in leadership roles in the future.


Take the coach’s challenge and complete this leadership assignment to boost your future performance.

Boost Your Performance

Don’t leave the leadership lessons you fought hard to earn as a result of a challenging time in the rearview mirror. Look back and mine those nuggets of wisdom and make them a part of your leadership arsenal forever. This will boost your long-term leadership performance.

What’s Your Opinion?

Email me one leadership lesson you learned as a result of a challenge or failure.

Don’t let Doubt count you out. Do your leadership part and commit to a hearty restart. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.