Overcome Your Doubts to Embrace Success
What could you do if you didn’t care what people thought? What could you do if you didn’t have that negative nagging voice inside your head? What could you do if you truly followed your heart?
The other day whilst sitting in Winchester Cathedral I was struck by these thoughts. I was listening to a piece of music that had been composed by my piano teacher. It was the premiere of his newly composed cantata. He was on the front row of the audience, intently listening to the piece.
A Magical Experience
My eyes kept flitting from him to the choir. As the music filled the cathedral I was deeply moved by the realisation that this was a magical experience. I was listening to something that had been created by the person sitting in front of me. What I was hearing had quite literally been borne from his head.
It’s easy to assume that someone who is so musically talented would have had an easy time of composing music. However he, like all of us, had many demons to fight. There were many times when he questioned whether he was good enough, he questioned what people might think.
What made him different from so many other people? The difference is that he kept on going despite the demons.
History is populated with people who have faced failure and kept on going. History tells us that Winston Churchill was plagued with dark moods and doubts. What would our country have done during the Second World War if he had listened to his inner demons?
Thomas Edison is another person who was no stranger to failure. He had hundreds of unsuccessful attempts designing the light bulb. He said, “many of life’s failures are men who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” We’re lucky he kept trying, consider how different our lives would be without the humble light bulb.
The Fear of Being Judged
I shared the story of my music teacher with a group of art students the other day. I was coaching them and we started to discuss the fear of being judged. I asked them, “What would it be like if you weren’t worried about what others thought?”
At first they said it’d be nice to talk up in class without the fear of being thought as stupid, or brainy, or geeky, or too intelligent.
We then began to consider life more generally. What weren’t they doing because of fear? What might they do in life by putting aside their concern of what others might think?
It’s interesting question isn’t it?
As a coach I work with some very senior people. I’d be very rich if I had a pound for the number of times these leaders admit they feel like a fraud, wondering how on earth they got to where they are. These are people at the peak of their careers, people who do superb jobs and are incredibly successful.
I might be a coach but I don’t have the answers to silencing the demons. Doubts are part and parcel of being human. There will always be days when we worry about what others think.
Don’t judge success on whether you feel doubt. Don’t judge success on whether you feel fear. Indeed don’t judge success by the number of failures you encounter. Success is continuing to follow your heart regardless of the demons. Churchill once described success as “going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.” Bear that in mind next time you’re tempted to give up.