I worked for a guy who saw doubt as a major character weakness. “Conviction” was his rally cry. It showed backbone.
I also believe in conviction. But I believe your conviction is much more steadfast when it has been earned through the labor of overcoming your doubt.
So, I’m a believer in doubt too. Doubt lays the challenges that make us better. Doubt rocks.
Ironically, accepting doubt is a mark of confidence. It means you’re self-assured enough to question your own thinking and consider that of others. Accepting doubt means you’re open to improvement.
This openness tells your colleagues that your goal is the best solution, not just A solution or just YOUR solution. And this will fire them to work harder with you in that pursuit.
Doubt is also a powerful motivator. It drives your exploration further to find the best answer, that will secure the assurance we all crave.
Doubt helps you set goals. It is not a pleasant emotion, and knowing that it will attack inspires you to make time for improvement, to plan for overcoming doubt. Every new technology has a test phase. This phase is doubt-planning.
Long live doubt: it opens your mind, empowers authentic conviction, and the results can be amazing.
On the other side, doubtlessness drives to pre-ordained solutions. It shuts us down to the legitimate challenges against our ideas and positions, which means that those ideas will probably be weaker than they could be.
We all know a leader who says, “my way or the highway.” This is not strength talking. It’s a lack of faith that his or her own positions can withstand the doubts of others.
Doubtlessness closes your mind, fosters false conviction, and the results can be disastrous. Consider our doubtless march into the Iraq War.
Doubt is a proud quality. Let it make you better. It’s the doubtless, the most secure in their convictions, who should be most concerned. Of course, they won’t be, will they?
Here's a great TEDTalk from Adam Grant on what makes people original thinkers. One of the 3 main qualities he cites is the embracing of doubt. The whole 15 minutes of this talk is great, but the bit on the power of doubt starts around 8:40.