- Thu, June 28 2012
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
If you’re trying to hit a goal, you have days where you are full of faith. You’re doing the right things, you’re working with passion, and you trust in your ability to accomplish what you must.
You also have days where you are full of doubt. Will anyone really listen? Will your efforts make a difference? Did you make the right call? Will you hit your numbers?
Dennis Palumbo says we often think of faith and doubt as the angel and devil, perched on separate shoulders, vying to dominate our mind. If only we could banish the doubt and barrel along with bravado. But even if that were possible, it’s not ideal. To vanquish doubt is to leave the domain of the human being, as Palumbo puts it. Blind optimism isn’t all that effective - but neither is pessimistic despair. Only by embracing both are we wholly human—and truly effective. The trick is to balance the two and let them coexist in equal measure.
I’d put it this way: Faith helps us soldier on - and doubt challenges us to do better. When I wrote the acknowledgements of my book, I said that writing a book is an act both vain and humbling. Vain, because to sit down and write, you must believe yourself an expert. Humbling, because in writing you discover you do not know everything. To finish the pages, you need the vanity to keep writing and the humility to keep learning.
I think that’s true of our work in general. We need the vanity (or faith) of believing we can change something for the better. And we need the doubt (humility) of constantly asking if we could do it bigger or better. Don’t run from doubt - tempting though it is. Accept it - along with an equally strong degree of faith - so you can be your full self and make the biggest possible dent in the universe during your short time on this planet.