8 Telltale Indications That Your Business Career is Limited by Self-Doubt

Getting out of your comfort zone is always a challenge, but more and more evidence indicates that it is necessary for growth and success in your business and career.

In my experience as a mentor to entrepreneurs, I find that self-doubt and lack of confidence are the primary constraints people have to overcome to move ahead. The challenge is to recognize your problem and fix it.

Although the people around you may recognize the symptoms, nothing will likely change unless you see the telltale signs of hesitation in yourself. I found the key ones to be outlined well in a new book, “Hunting Discomfort,” by Sterling Hawkins. He writes from first-hand experience and is now a recognized business leader, motivational speaker, and mentor to many entrepreneurs.

I have added here my own perspective to the key indicators that he outlines, and I challenge each of you to do your own self-assessment of your discomforts, and proactively take the actions suggested to move to the next level of business commitment, confidence, and success:

1. You tend to use non-committal language.

“I will try” and “hope for the best” are phrases that have no place in your business or career. If you find yourself using any similar phrases, it indicates that you lack confidence in your ability, or choose to avoid real commitments. The antidote is to make clear commitments and celebrate successes.

Also, you can show commitment and confidence by taking full responsibility for your actions and giving full recognition to others for their contributions. These positive and proactive efforts will go a long way in strengthening your own internal perceptions.

2. Predominantly focus on your perceived flaws.

By focusing on how your weaknesses are likely the problem, rather than recognizing your strengths, you hide behind a defense mechanism. Instead, capitalize on the assets you have, and build your confidence to achieve future successes. Concentrate on highlighting your positives.

3. It’s more natural to imagine failure than success.

This leads to a constant search for safety nets, backup plans, and alternatives. Instead, get to work, do the job, enjoy learning more, and become more confident. My recommendation is to actively seek success alternatives from peers and mentors and follow their lead.

4. You avoid making plans too far in advance.

You like to leave your schedule open in case something happens, or in case you don’t feel well then. In essence, you don’t want to risk getting pulled out of your comfort zone. Don’t let yourself slide in making future commitments because these are the ones that can make you grow to the next level.

5. Avoid serious conversations about your commitments.

If you are a chronic avoider of certain conversations in business, you likely have a problem with commitment and therefore a problem with self-doubt. Make it a priority to not delay conversations that you fear will make you feel uncomfortable. Being too busy is just an excuse.

6. You have many casual relationships but no close ones.

Close relationships, both business and personal, make you vulnerable. They force you to look beyond your self-doubts to achieve important objectives. One of the most important ways to build trust is always doing what you said you would do, and if not, addressing that with integrity.

7. Too picky about conditions under which you’ll commit.

There will always be conditions that aren’t perfect for you to commit to something, but too often it is a sign that you are doubting your own ability to deliver or looking for reasons to avoid it. In my experience, people who rarely commit are offered fewer and fewer real opportunities.

8. Equate commitment with losing your freedom.

Keeping every option open may sound good, but in truth, it’s just a chaotic fantasy. Growth and success are all about narrowing down the options, committing to one, and making it happen. Your customers and peers need to know specifically what you stand for and where you are leading them.

By eliminating these qualms and pushing outside your comfort zone, you’ll be able to handle more business commitments, more contracts, and more promises than you ever thought possible, leading to breakthrough growth and the fulfillment of your real potential. In my view, life is too short to be held back and stressed by our fears and self-doubts.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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