How To Use Doubt To Your Advantage
Doubt is a component of fear that limits us from achieving our true potential. In life, our doubts often plague us from pursuing our dreams, taking a risk and even restrict us from accomplishing our goals. In business, doubt can be a detrimental element contributing to a company’s success or failure. The key is to use doubt as a positive tool by doubting your limits, not your strengths.
A year ago, I started taking notice of people in colorful jerseys peddling down the road on bikes with skinny tires. My wife and I live a stone’s throw away from the American River Parkway in Sacramento, one of the most highly acclaimed bike trails in the country. This sight was far more common than I had previously been aware of and it got me thinking. “Why not try cycling?” Intrigued as I was by this sport, a litany of negative thoughts ran through my head: I’m too old, not in shape to keep up, how will I look in Spandex, what if I fall down? Earlier experiences in life had taught me to doubt the limits imposed on me by others — and more importantly, imposed by myself.
I eventually convinced myself to go for it and purchased a new carbon fiber bike and gear, further committing to my decision. Soon my evenings and weekends were spent on the saddle riding down the river trail. It wasn’t easy to jump into it but with perseverance and renewed vigor, I continually challenged myself. My 60th birthday was spent cycling 100 miles within the Greater Sacramento and Newcastle area. Next came a 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe with my wife and 3,500 riders.
I again faced lingering doubts on a recent seven-day cycling trip across Oregon. I knew going into it that I was going to be challenging myself to ride over 400 miles, however I wasn’t prepared for the realization that a large part of the trip would be climbing uphill. I kept pushing, never looking at my final destination, just concentrating on peddling – one day at a time. On the third day, I happened to glance at my cycling computer to realize I had climbed over 12,000 vertical feet. That same day, I met a gentleman that told me that by the end of my trip, I would have climbed almost 25,000 vertical feet. At that point I realized, I still had quite a bit of climbing left to do but I figured, if I had gotten this far without even knowing it – I was more than capable of doing the rest. At the end of day 7, I had completed over 400 miles and 25,000 feet of overall climbing. I doubted my limits, and won!
In business, the same concept applies. At WeidnerCA, we learned the concept of doubting our limits on a recent high profile project, Grand Park Los Angeles. During the preliminary consultation meetings, we knew the project was going to be a challenge. Not only were the deadlines encroaching with our normal production schedule, but the scope of the project was larger than the capacity we were used to handling and the design called for unique and unproven fabrication methods. Like my recent cycling trip, we realized as a team that we needed to break up the project into smaller increments and study each one to find the best solution. It required us to concentrate more on the process, day by day, taking each challenge as an opportunity to prove ourselves.
The result was a project that came in on-time, on-budget and built with a level craftsmanship that rivals fine art installations. The success came from doubting our limits and looking at the challenges from a practical view, rather than being overwhelmed with our own preconceptions.
Doubting my limits has paid wonderful rewards in my professional and personal life. I have no clue what adventures will come next on my bucket list or what innovations WeidnerCA will bring to the market. Whatever may come, I expect to have the nerve to doubt my limits and say “why not!”