Do you depend on others' opinions because you lack confidence in your own?
Getting lots of input on important issues is a good idea. It can help you be successful when, without expert help, you might fail. But it can turn into a problem if you're depending on other people's opinions because you have no confidence in your own.
There's a fine line between the two--I know because I've crossed it more than once. If I have to make an important decision I tend to ask for advice and opinions from people who seem smarter than I am. Then I ask for a few more. By the time I finally settle on something, it's been crowdsourced.
That's bad because failing to trust your own judgment can be lethal for an entrepreneur. So if any of the above sounds familiar, here are 9 good reasons to change:
1. You might be taken in by image.
Many people, especially professional experts such as consultants, are great at putting on a game face. They have the right clothes, the crispest looking websites and materials, and a confident manner that comes from years of practice. None of that means they're smarter or better informed than you are. As a very wise writer once put it, we all see each other's whole coats, and feel the torn lining only inside our own.
2. You can learn what you need to know.
There was a time when educated professionals held sway over all the research in fields from medicine to economics to technology. That time is not now. In today's world, with vast sums of knowledge easily available online and in books that anyone can obtain, it's possible for anyone to learn what they need to know about almost anything. All it takes is dedication, a few research skills, and time.
The most famous proof of this came from Augusto and Michaela Odone, who created a treatment called Lorenzo's Oil for their son Lorenzo's incurable adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Though most ALD patients die within two years of diagnosis, Lorenzo outlived his by 26 years thanks to his parents' efforts. They had no medical training whatsoever.
3. Your intuition is valuable. You should use it.
Whether we know it or not, all of us have intuitive powers--the ability to form new ideas or see the right answer to a question in a flash or "aha!" moment. That intuition is one of your most valuable assets, and you should develop it to its highest degree and use it whenever you can. Using your intuition means listening carefully to your own gut reactions, instincts, and inspirations. You might miss them if you're too busy listening to everyone else.
4. You may be ducking responsibility.
Why are you looking for outside opinions--really? Is it because you want to tap into the greater expertise or knowledge that others have? Or is it because you want others to share responsibility with you for the decisions you make? If there's any chance the answer is the latter, it's time to stop taking quite so much advice and start making decisions more on your own. You're responsible either way.
5. You have to explain your decisions.
As a leader, you're likely to face questions about the decisions you make, especially if they're decisions that could have an adverse effect on those who work for you, or those around you. "I asked 10 experts and this is what they told me to do" is a poor excuse for an answer. The people on your team and in your life deserve a thoughtful explanation of how you--and no one else--came to this course of action.
6. Making your own decisions builds confidence.
If you're not a confident person, making decisions without leaning excessively on others can be frightening. But like a lot of things, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And making your own decisions will build your confidence, especially if your chosen course of action turns out well. You can't always be right, but you can always be confident. As an entrepreneur or manager, you need to be.
7. Not making your own decisions builds weakness.
The flip side is also true: The less you do something the harder it gets. That applies to making your own decisions. Let's say you're faced with a choice, and rather than trust your own judgment you ask some trusted experts what to do and follow their advice. If things turn out well, you've just confirmed to yourself that you're better off letting others make the tough choices for you. If things turn out badly you'll feel even more rattled and uncertain. It's lose-lose.
8. You will survive a bad decision.
This is often where I trip up. I tend to believe that a wrong decision will drag me down along with everyone around me. But few decisions are that powerful or that unchangeable. Nobody gets everything right all the time, so we're all sure to have some of our decisions go south. It's what we do afterward that makes the difference.
9. If you can't trust yourself, whom can you trust?
Whom should you trust more than yourself? No one else has all the facts at your disposal, no one else has your experience, and no one else has your best interests, and those of your company, quite so much at heart. Getting advice can be very helpful, but anyone who gives you advice will have his or her own priorities, and they won't be exactly the same as yours.
So go ahead, believe in yourself. No one deserves it more.