No. That’s not a typo in the heading. I really did say “Doubter” (not daughter). Who is this person? Why would I bring this up?
First, last Monday, LinkedIn highlighted a Forbes article talking about the key players you need on your team in this article: The 6 People You Need in Your Corner.
I wanted to highlight the one sensitive, creative, artistic individuals probably find the hardest to embrace: The Doubter. Creative souls put so much heart, attention, and love into their creative works that having someone question or doubt your work can be a sting to the soul.
Let me be clear. There is a distinction between The Hater and The Doubter. The Hater just doesn’t like anything and is out to pull everyone and everything down into their miserable little hole. I’m not talking about this person.
Why the Doubter is Worth Their Weight in Gold – Scratch That… Invaluable!
The Doubter, on the other hand, IS interested in ideas, may be a little more vocal about their opinions, may have critical feedback. Yet by engaging in a dialogue, that critical feedback loop of asking questions, finding out their point of view, answering the questions they have, considering their angle of the idea, I found whatever I was creating was made SO MUCH BETTER because of their input.
How a Doubter Can Show Up in Your Life
In my corporate job, my Doubter was first a
- Great colleague who was always intrigued with my ideas and knew how to ask questions without getting me frustrated.
- Later, I actually sought out the Curmudgeon Colleagues… the smart ones who have “been there, done that, seen it all, nothing is new.” However, even these jaded veterans still wanted to be effective and continuously improve. By engaging with them early in the process, I often avoided pitfalls from the ones who “came before, tried an idea, and failed.” We talked about what failed, why it failed, what could be done differently, what would they suggest, etc. (Which is also a critical component of support: if they help build it, they will help support it.)
In your Creative Circle, a Doubter can show up as a:
- Customer who isn’t completely happy with their product
- A fellow artist with a different set of life experiences
- A family member or friend who believes in your creativity but not necessarily in making a business of it
How I Transitioned into Embracing The Doubter
When I started my first Big Corporate Job, I was a bright-eyed, eager beaver, with loads of ideas. Before I worked at Big Corporate, I was in small offices with a limited sphere of influence. My bosses generally loved that I had lots of ideas. But engaging a wider range of people to adopt and implement the idea was a different story. I would come with a Big Fabulous Idea (in my silly opinion) to a group and somehow expect people to jump up and down happily and run away to implement it. Nope. What usually happened was, at a minimum, a lot of questions. What about this? What about that? Did you think of this? What if this happened? Sometimes we would get lost in semantics. On the tougher end of the spectrum, I would meet resistance, to outright rejection.
The first few times these happened to me, I was totally deflated. I mean, I put so much thought and effort into The Idea, I missed the the most valuable part of the conversation: THE FEEDBACK. Engaging in a healthy feedback loop makes the idea fabulous!
I think what helped me most with the transition into welcoming The Doubter into my team, was the colleague who would ask the questions. She was usually intrigued by whatever idea I was cooking up (this was nice for keeping my morale up), and then she’d start asking questions in a very objective tone. I tend to be a big thinker. I see the forest. I can get into the trees, but when I’m at tree level, I don’t see every tree. She was the type that would mentally go out and survey every “tree” in my idea and make sure it fit the forest.
Fast forward 12 years later, and I don’t need someone to be intrigued to keep my morale up (although it’s still nice and it helps). I pay attention to The Doubters. I actually seek them out. I have learned that The Doubter is worth their weight in gold… no scratch that… they are invaluable to my team. (Every type mentioned is invaluable on my team… but I’m singling out The Doubter, because this can be the most challenging to embrace, especially to senstive, creative souls.)
Embracing The Doubter takes some strength to be able to weather what feels like criticism. But, is it really criticism? Isn’t it that they need clarification to take away value from your idea? What if by engaging in dialogue, you figure out how to clarify your idea to appeal to a broader audience? Doesn’t that make The Doubter a fabulous person to have on your team?
Tell me what you think… do you embrace your Doubters? The customers with “criticism” or less than positive feedback? The family member or friend that loves your art, but struggles with the practicality? The fellow artist with a different life experience?