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Second-guessing is not a useful kind of question

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If you have ever wondered about the decisions you make, this blog post is for you.

I spent the last 20 minutes deciding the topic of this blog. I started several times. So why the time-wasting? I was practising the least useful form of questioning –  second-guessing.

Second-guessing is defined as guessing how others may act or think. In my case, I predict in the negative. “They won’t read that/like that/find that useful, will they?” It’s a form of self-doubt that is pernicious. It wears down my creativity. It exhausts my curiosity.

I see both leaders and authors struggle with second-guessing themselves. It acts as a protective mechanism, too. Making decisions – whether it be publishing a book, launching a new product, implementing a new strategy – leaves us vulnerable to critics. Because nothing is ever perfect, our faults are on display. That can feel embarrassing.

Of course, if I run out of time to write my blog, I will not make a fool of myself in public. But neither will I help you. Or myself.

When you notice yourself second-guessing, it’s time to stop and get curious. Set aside a few minutes to ask yourself some questions and write down the answers, or talk it through with a friend or mentor.

When you start second-guessing, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, go deeper into the questions of yourself until you hit bedrock. Once you are on solid ground again, you are ready to make your decision, and:

  • Publish your book

  • Launch your new product

  • Write your blog

  • Change your business model

To conquer the destructive habit of second-guessing, ask more questions.


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