I Doubt It
When my son, Gabe, found out he was going to be trying out for his first AAU basketball team, he was excited. When he found out the team was the North Coast Blue Chips he was nervous. The Blue Chips were Bronny James’ team. His dad, LeBron, had just relocated to Cleveland so they were creating a team in Ohio for Bronny to be able to compete.
Gabe loved basketball, but had never played competitive basketball. He had been in the gym with me for practices almost everyday. He had spent hours in the basement or in our driveway improving his skills, but had really only played one year of organized basketball.
As a ten year old, Gabe was already dedicated to getting better. He practiced everyday, usually spending a few hours each day practicing the game he loves. Upon learning of the tryout opportunity in front of him, Gabe - not mom or dad - bumped that up to 3-4 hours each day.
He was obsessed about being as good as he could be at the tryout. He knew he had worked hard to that point, harder than probably 95% of kids his age. Yet, it wasn’t the confidence from his previous work that pushed him to double down on his commitment.
It was the doubt that he wasn’t good enough to make the team.
Why Should We Care?
We often think that our work and drive to excel is rooted in our purpose and our belief in ourselves. Remember, you can be anything you want to be according to your mom and dad. But the truth is that our drive isn’t nearly as connected to our confidence as it is our fears.
Gabe wasn’t driven to work three to four hours per day because he knew could be great. He was willing to put that type of work in because he was afraid he wasn’t good enough. The same is likely true for the hardest workers on your team.
Those driven to work are fueled far more by doubt than they are by confidence. They are on a constant mission to prove themselves, unsure if they are good enough. This uncertainty provides the tightrope anyone seeking excellence must walk. Too much doubt and we are crippled by a lack of confidence that leaves us unable to perform. Too little doubt and we become over confident and soon begin to lack the value of the work we once put in.
Some reflection will lead you to the same discovery.
Those times when you went all in, gave every last thing you had, were usually times you weren’t sure you could get the job done. Doubt was present and you needed to do everything you could to give yourself a chance.
And, when you came through, confidence and belief grew.
Fulfillment was experienced.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Here are a few ways to maintain a healthy level of doubt in your pursuit of excellence.
Doubt is so often viewed as a negative thought, but like virtually everything, it is what you make of it. It’s not the thought of doubt that matters, but our response to it. With an underlying faith that we will persist and find a way, doubt can provide the very motivation for your foundation of work.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.