Nathan Tanner

Self Doubt vs. Idea Doubt: Which one’s holding you back?

A few weeks ago I heard Adam Grant speak about his new book, Originals, where he teaches how to originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all.

At one point he spoke on the topic of doubt, and my ears immediately perked up. I’ve faced doubt throughout my life. Am I smart enough? Can I overcome my obstacles? Am I even on the right career path? I’ve asked myself these questions many times.

Grant took the subject deeper, discussing two kinds of doubt: self doubt and idea doubt.

Self doubt is a lack of confidence in yourself and your abilities. When you have self doubt, you constantly feel like you’re not good enough. You don’t know if you have what it takes.

Idea doubt is different. Those with idea doubt are confident in themselves, but they don’t know if a specific project or idea is going to work. They believe it’s just a matter of time until they find something that clicks.

If you have self doubt, you’re far less likely to try new ideas and experiment. And as Grant teaches, “The people who succeed the most are the people who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most.”

Where self doubt is crippling, idea doubt can motivate and propel you. A healthy amount of idea doubt may give you the energy to try new things, fail, and keep iterating. Self doubt may prevent you from even trying.

Which kind of doubt is holding you back?

Like what you read? Click here to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.