Soften the Fck Up

Lessons Learned Part 2: Doubt

This is the second part of a series of posts dedicated to lessons I’ve learned over the past year working on the campaign “Soften the Fck Up“. You can read Part 1 here.

People often ask, when and how did you get over your fear? I often answer, I don’t think I ever got over my fear. I just became comfortable with them because they never really went away. As I look back now, they have always been there and still is there but they keep me accountable and if anything, force me to be thorough and detailed because I am scared shitless of failing and also maintain my friendships with utmost respect.

After fear came doubt. Most nights, I go to bed feeling an overwhelming sense of gratefulness from all the assistance and support I have gathered, but from time to time, I get hit by doubts. People often think that entrepreneurs don’t have doubts because they speak so passionately about their idea – I do too sometimes, but I don’t trust that my idea and all my grand plan is perfect.

Doubts come and go, and sometimes, it stays for a couple of days. One of the thing that has helped me was to really question myself where these doubts came from because often, the answers lead to something that I have completely overlooked or something that I need to check up on.

As silly as this sounds, I woke up one Sunday morning thinking that maybe I am disillusioned into thinking that everything really is working perfectly – everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing but in actual fact, no one is working on the website, no one is working on the videos, no one is working on the contents, no one is sponsoring the food and drinks for the launch – I have been imagining! And I laughed it off but then the what-if came creeping into my mind – what if they don’t deliver what they promised?

I also had days when I feel overwhelmed and doubt my own capabilities and abilities to bring this project forward. Times like these, you also tend to think too much into the doubtful comments you receive. I remember one night, after a big and long day, I lie in bed completely exhausted thinking, perhaps I am really am not strong and smart enough to do this. Maybe I really just don’t have the mental and physically toughness to do this. That quickly went away after a good night sleep though for me.

I always come back to the importance of mentors and surrounding yourself with great peers. I also have the quote from Robert F Kennedy stuck in front of my work table that says:

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

I talked myself into getting comfortable with the possibility of failure – afterall, what have I got to lose; but I also did think about the success and thinking about meeting people whose lives really had been changed because of the campaign.

I realise that the doubtful moments often happen when I am exhausted, so I try not to wallow in those moments.

Keep yourself focused on the work that needs to be done, and the genuine reason you do what you do. Keep your ears open – often those who are first to criticise and give you negative feedback are often the ones who will provide you with valuable advice. Be modest and humble, allow yourself to listen to everyone non-judgmentally and give them the space to participate in their ways – I have found this incredibly powerful in helping me manage the doubtfuls, and almost 100% of the time, they weren’t really doubtful, they only had a few question or they misunderstood the message. If you empower them to be involved, they often change their views rather quickly.

  • BrisbaneBoy

    Hi Ehon
    A very honest and open exploration of your own ruminations on the emotions and feelings that often hold so many back from making big decisions needed to achieve great things.  Your maturity on such things belies your age!
    Two quotes come to mind which sum up what you’re doing in my mind… The first is the one on your homepage – a quote I live by from George Bernard Shaw.  It’s a beautiful quote and I’m glad you have it and know it!
    The other was from Teddy, and goes like this:
          “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”