Ambition Neutered by Self-Doubt

As I watched the movie The Last Word with my wife one of the characters spoke those blog title words to another character as she expressed why she wasn’t able to do what she dreamed of doing.

About a year ago I took an online course titled Mastering the Craft of Creativity by Bob Stromberg. I highly recommend you check him out on the two links provided.

One of the lessons in Stromberg’s class is to become fully aware of things that strike you emotionally. The emotion can be positive or negative but when an emotion hits us we need to take note of it and write it down. We don’t need to do anything with it right away but we need to capture it and then begin to process it over time so we can figure out why it grabbed us and what we can do with it.

The words “ambition neutered by self-doubt” grabbed me hard. There was strong emotion to it so I grabbed it. I’ve been processing it for several days now. The fact those words hit a chord with my soul were not a surprise to me. I’ve struggled with self-doubt most of my life.

Over the years, I’ve become well aware that this issue is not mine alone but one with which many people struggle. All you need to do is go to a book store or on Amazon.com and search self-help or self-doubt books and you’ll find enough books to keep you reading until the second coming.

In spite of the countless people who are held back by self-doubt, and who buy all those books, the topic is not talked about much out in the open. We like to hold this curse close to ourselves and let others think all is well.

At the core of our self-doubt, I believe, is fear. We ask or tell ourselves often:

  • What if I fail?
  • What if I’m not good enough?
  • What will other people think?
  • I could never be like…
  • I’m too old, or young, or tall, or short or….
  • And the list goes on and on. Fill in your own blank.

What is the antidote for fear; courage of course.

As I continued to process why the ambition quote grabbed me so hard I came across a video someone posted on Facebook by Will Ferrell. Ferrell was the commencement speaker at the recent graduation ceremony at USC. Ferrell is an alumnus of USC. You can watch the entire speech here.

Will Ferrell is not a guy we would ever associate with fear and self-doubt. We look at those who have attained such great levels of “success” and think that it all came easy for them without any fear or self-doubt. While the entire speech is very good there is a particular three-minute portion where the Anchorman addresses his fears that have followed him throughout his career. You can watch this segment below:

 

Here are my three takeaways from Ferrell’s address to the graduates:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others – while Ferrell doesn’t address this specifically it came to my mind as I watched him. This is a particular issue with which I struggle.
  2. Don’t listen to your critics – Some people just want to tear us down because then they don’t have to face their own self-doubts. They can keep us close to their low place in life by holding us back from our dreams.
  3. Keep moving forward, or as Ferrell says, keep throwing darts at the dartboard.

That third takeaway is really key. Regardless of the comparisons you likely will lose, because we always do, or the critics who want to hold you back, you can continue to have the courage to plug away. Celebrate the little victories. Even when things don’t work as you’d hoped celebrate that you tried and that you threw another dart.

Take a minute and click on this link to check out a video from the earlier mentioned Bob Stromberg. He’ll share with you a story about a dart that he continues to throw and that he hopes someday will hit the target.

I must admit it took some courage for me to write this post today. My ambition is, more often than not, neutered by self-doubt. My prayer is that these words will encourage you and me to both have the courage to pick up another dart and throw it at the dartboard. We just never know when one is going to stick!

Blessings to you on your journey to live a more courageous life!

I’d love to hear about your self-doubts and about the darts you are throwing in spite of them!

Ephesians 6:12

Have a STRONG and COURAGEOUS DAY!

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  • Phil Thompson

    Good thoughts Dave! Check out Craig Groeschel’s talk about the dangers of comparison…https://mobile.twitter.com/lifechurch/status/865611400512761857/video/1

    • bigbaldguy@me.com

      Thank you, Phil. I’m a big Groeschel fan and he certainly deepened my respect for him with these words you’ve shared. It seems to me, most people, me included, go to the inferior comparison more than the superior comparison. Maybe because that’s what I do I am more aware of that comparison. But, as Groeschel states, neither one honors God! Thanks, Phil!

      Dave

    • Thank you, Phil. I’m a big Groeschel fan and he certainly deepened my respect for him with these words you’ve shared. It seems to me, most people, me included, go to the inferior comparison more than the superior comparison. Maybe because that’s what I do I am more aware of that comparison. But, as Groeschel states, neither one honors God! Thanks, Phil!

      Dave

  • No matter how long you live, self-doubt pesters you and impedes progress.

    • bigbaldguy@me.com

      Good point, Ron. If we have awareness of those self-doubts it allows us the opportunity to pick up another dart in spite of the emotion. All too often, our default is to not pick up any more darts and wallow in our self-doubt.

      Dave

    • Good point, Ron. If we have awareness of those self-doubts it allows us the opportunity to pick up another dart in spite of the emotion. All too often, our default is to not pick up any more darts and wallow in our self-doubt.

      Dave

  • Anthony Verderame

    BAM!!!! Way to go brother! Thank you so much for writing & posting this. The timing of it is simply divine! It appears God has been confirming to me in numerous ways that I’m where I’m suppose to be. Courage right now is huge for me! Love you brother!

    • bigbaldguy@me.com

      Thank you, Anthony! I’m glad these words had impact for you. Keep throwing darts, my friend!

      Dave

    • Thank you, Anthony! I’m glad these words had impact for you. Keep throwing darts, my friend!

      Dave

  • Craig R. Annis

    Sorry Dave, but I am amused by the Neutered word…..I am sure it has a far different meaning to us men than to a woman? I think the most paralyzing thing that can happen in our lives is fear! We push it down, ignore it, but trust me, it never goes away. I am so happy you have blogged about this, and I loved Will’s willingness to admit his fears, and the fact that these responses all indicate how life is always treading around fear! My fear is the darts are getting fewer, and the dart board is getting farther away. May God grant me strength and power to push on and overcome both!! Blessings David!!

    • I always appreciate your thoughtful responses to my posts, Craig! The interesting thing about our fears is that because it is often our default we don’t think we have another choice. That is my hope with what I do, is to help people realize they can choose courage and not always default to their fears. Whatever darts you have left, Craig, I know you will continue to throw them! You are a great encouragement to me, Craig! Thank you!