When doubt comes

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Despite what everyone thinks, Steve Jobs was a mere mortal.

When it comes to startups much has been written about faith, perseverance, endurance, success, joy and all the roller coaster of emotions that often comes with running your own startup business. Little, however, has been written about doubt. It is a subject that both those who have failed and succeeded choose to eschew like a plague.

In startup chronicles and biographies and auto-biographies the storytellers usually employ two strategies: the authors choose to gloss over the successful person’s incertitude by sometimes given the false impression that these startup founders are demi-gods, always sure of themselves, their destiny and painting the picture that they never doubted that their businesses would succeed.

Hollywood has perfected the art of selective retelling where all the bad days either get very little airplay or are skipped altogether. I mean we have all seen the movies: The Social Network (Never mind, the story is based on a book called Accidental Billionaires) Steve Jobs, and recently Joy.

These demi-gods are always sure of themselves, spouting their mottos with conviction and assurance. They are gods and visionaries, a special super-race of people who were born to do great things. Never you mind that often times luck played a role in their successes.

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It does not help much that when one goes to Church on Sunday that doubt is firmly placed in the devil’s camp. “Doubt comes from Satan” is a mantra often repeated in every place of worship. As a result, most startup founders are often told to ignore that nagging feeling of impending doom.

The truth, however, is that if you decide to take the risky route of running your own business, whether it will be on some lone long summer night or in the midst of some cold winter morning, doubt will come for you as surely as it has visited all the others before you.

You will break out in sweat and ask yourself if what you are working on is the next best thing or you are simply making a mistake and wasting away the prime days of your life. On such days, it will not matter much what Hollywood and your pastor say because you will doubt yourself and everything nevertheless.

It will not matter then how many songs of faith you sing because that doubt will keep scratching your door until you deal with it. It will be like a wolf baying for your blood and when you come out of your little cocoon of faith as you inevitably will in time, it will tear you to shreds.

The truth about tech visionaries like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs is rather mundane, probably so unremarkable as to be ordinary. These people no doubt carefully chose to reveal their own doubts only to a select and trusted few or the biographers and storytellers in their esteemed wisdom have decided to be revisionist.

Everyone loves a good story and there is not much stock in anti-hero stories so we get a list of what Steve Jobs read in his childhood instead of a list of what drugs he took. By his own admission, he got high too, at least early in his life.

I have no doubt that there are bathrooms somewhere where these gods went and repeated mantras into mirrors until they convinced even themselves to believe in their own FUD. There are restrooms somewhere wherein they rushed to vomit after artfully negotiating their way through a trying presentation. Every one of them at some point either doubted themselves, or had no idea of just how big a motherload they had just hit.

Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing.

Doubt is not a bad thing as some would have us believe and it is most certainly of the devil and if anyone tells you any differently they are the devil. It is an opportunity to reevaluate the decisions you have made thus far. A time to recheck your settings and confirm you are on the right course. A time to appreciate how far you have come and how far you still have to go.

You should embrace it. Find its source. Is it because your sales numbers are low? Investigate why these numbers are low and try and come up with strategies to increase them because that is not a problem you can just wish away.Is it because you lack a critical skill? Then go on and get that requisite skill and you will sleep easier at night. Is it because your partner is a loose cannon? Then talk to him or her about your misgivings and concerns. Is it because of the underwhelming state of the economy or your competitor? Then do a SWOT analysis.

The short and long of it is doubt usually comes for a reason and more often than not it’s not because the devil has it for you. It is because there is an actual logical reason that is lying imprisoned by the blind faith in your heart. Doubt gives us back our sight in the land of blind faith and unquestioning obedience.

There are no extraordinary men and women just ordinary men and women who have done extraordinary things. You can just as easily be one of them if you listen and act on that doubt when, not if, it comes.

Image credit: huffingtongpost.com



13 Comments

  1. fiend says:

    Well…, that was boring!!
    Doubt from a religious/Christian perspective has to do with lack of faith within the context of religion. NOT the general sense of the word. You are lost if you mix the two.

    1. Garikai says:

      Hebrews 11 is taken as the official theological treatise on faith and it conforms to the general meaning of the word in every way. Faith:”complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Doubt:a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction

      1. fiend says:

        Exactly! It’s NOT THEOLOGICAL DOUBT. The doubt one may have concerning business, innovation entrepreneurship is not related to uncertainty over one’s religion or faith. If you don’t get it, you are truly lost

        1. Garikai says:

          Genesis 17:15-21, Genesis 18:10-14,Matthew 11:1-7, John 20:24-29, Acts 1:3-4, Acts 14:15-18, 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
          Lessons:
          1) Despite the crap people are always preaching in Church human beings will never just take your word for it.
          2) So doubtful are they, name a reputable character in the Bible, yes even Jesus and I will tell you if the greatest patriarchs had their moments of doubt.
          3) The modern version of events that people put forth about faith is mainly a Pauline doctrine that happily skips over the bad and only emphasizes the good part of Christian history.
          4) Read the Psalms and notice how bitter, petty, whiny David was. He complained to God in a way most modern day Pastors would deem irreverent.
          5) https://www.openbible.info/topics/doubt

          1. charle says:

            ohhh my God, yu are totally lost my friend!!!

  2. Valzengo says:

    Most of your blog is true but you made one mistake, true entreprenuers do not believe they are ordinary people, in order to give more when the ordinary guys see it as illogical them you must truly believe you are a super human or not ordinary……because to be a revolutionary you must be crazy enough….

    1. Garikai says:

      Believe what you will but you should know that people tend to be revisionist in hindsight take for example Abraham of bible fame. He frequently doubted God and lied but these days he is put on a pedestal every Sunday I hear about him and am forced to wonder if my bible is somehow different from everybody else’s

      1. ordinary guy says:

        you seem to know whats going on in all the churches . fact that you hear that kinda preaching at your ”church” does’nt mean it happens vrywhre ..am convinced it might not be your church , but its you.. actually paul ddnt just sweet talk people . you just took things raw .. out of context ..the greatest obstacle to learning is the assumption that you know .(quoting verses dznt mean yo kno wat yo toking about)… i think you are a guy who had or has a shaky christian foundation.. you are quite emotional about this issue of the bible .. what kinda experience did you have back then..is it frustration .. it hapens when you know verses but u dont have that connection with God like hearing from him… #

        1. Garikai says:

          On the contrary I am a firm believer in Christ. I sure would like to believe I have a connection with him, after all he has helped me through some of the toughest moments of my life. I dont know what you mean by “hearing” from God though, I must confess. This was not a treatise on religion, just a cursory observation so I did not bother to go about conducting a church survey because I am a mere mortal with limited resources. Nor do I even assert that this is the only sermon being preached in all churchs, that would just be absurd. The thing is Christians like you get touchy on the issue of doubt. Most would rather deny that it exists in their lives. People want to put up a front where they pretend that everything is alright, their faith is unshakable even in the midst of crisis.

          My point is: When you find yourself in doubt its OK. You are not the first person to doubt yourself or something. I am willing to bet even you doubted God at some point in your life. It does not mean the end of the world rather take it as a learning opportunity. A occasion to grow in the knowledge of God. Period.

          Now tell me how this is blasphemous and unChristian when every other Psalm is filled with emotional verses of frustration.

          1. guy says:

            am not being touchy bro .. the way you talk/write .. yu write ” Christians like you get …” … ”doubt is from satan is repeated from every place of worship” … i wld expect a writer like you to choose words carefully and stop making premature crazy judgements .. like when yu say its repeated in every place of worship …. smbdy reading this wld conclude that the the church is sort of wrong on the topic of doubt .. which i dont agree

  3. anonymous says:

    Warren Buffet

  4. Toki says:

    Avooo vanonzii Garikai Hapana Kana Choziikanwaa #HKC

    1. Garikai says:

      Thank you for the helpful comment.

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