"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seldom Is It Just Black Or White

“Self doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self confident. The real one is scared to death.”
– Steven Pressfield

I came across this quote some time ago and it appealed to me on several levels. Consequently I promptly tucked it away in my “I’ll use this someday” file. Well, today is the day. Having worked for the past twenty years in a profession in which an inflated sense of self confidence and ego are essentially considered to be pre-requisites to success, I had never before considered any merit to be associated with self doubt.

On the contrary, self doubt was (and is) viewed in my profession, as in many others, as an indication of weakness, incompetence and failure. Therefore, while on life’s stage it lay safely (?) buried beneath a thin veneer of false bravado.

And while in many ways, this technique seemed to serve me well, I now recognize this method of dealing with self confidence issues as one fraught with pitfalls and one I’ve employed throughout all aspects of my life. What I have come to see is that by dealing with these issues in this manner, I created an internal environment which would inevitably collapse.

And eventually, it did.

And when it did, it forced me to open my eyes and think about myself and my way of thinking in a different context.

It forced me to be honest with myself.

It forced me to change.

And as a result, among other things, I now view self confidence and self doubt as two sides of the same coin, constantly complementing one another and keeping one another in check. I now know how important it is to remain alert so that one never allows the other to get out of hand.

I now realize these two states of consciousness are not mutually exclusive, but are instead mutually beneficial.

In other words, each is important in order to maintain balance in life.

Beth may tell you I completely forget about this when we play backgammon as I tend to get a tad (well, more than a tad) cocky, but believe me, it’s never been clearer to me in my life.

I suppose I’ve always known life isn’t only black or white but somehow, somewhere, I forgot for awhile.

It’s good to have the gray back in my life.


the bill said...

Glad to see some 2008 mileage posted.

The Bill.

Amy said...

And it's good to have you back!

Fe-lady said...

Just when you think you are the "best" or at least "better"- something comes along to knock us down a notch. As well it should.
I have seen cockiness flatten the most confident....and there certainly isn't any room for it on a triathlon or marathon course...much less in the workplace.
I will quit now, while I am a bit ahead... :-)