“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too…”
You are going to face doubt.
Hell, if you’re a human on planet Earth, you have faced doubt.
Probably a metric shit ton.
I know I have. In the corporate world, I’ve held at least five leadership positions in the last 22 years. I’ve been a father and parent for almost 18 years now, and I was a husband for just over 18.5 years. Any father or husband will tell you, the former isn’t always a picnic and neither is the latter. It’s not sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and unicorns all the time.
In any arena of leadership, you will be doubted, second-guessed, your instructions contradicted, ideas challenged, etc. As leader of a family, there is no “off button”.
The exhortation from Kipling here seems to come without hubris. There is humility to the statement. Trust yourself but make allowance for their doubting too.
You are, after all, only human and prone to making mistakes. That’s part of the human experience. Make allowance for their doubting too, because you’ve been in their shoes. Because you know you are fallible and human; that you are prone to the same misgivings and human nature as they. It seems to be a call to check yourself, stay humble and be conscious of why others may doubt you and then continue mission.
This doesn’t have to be over “big” things, sometimes you need to trust yourself in the “small” things too.
I have friends, men I respect, who give me shit for the way I write and express myself. I do not consider myself among the best writers, but I write poetry, write about death, I wax poetically about being in Nature, write fictional stories and even try to relay my experiences in BJJ, etc. I love to write. But allowing a good natured rubbing or even someone legitimately criticizing me to get to me, could cause me to derail or hold back. I’ve been there in the past. On a prior blog, I was cathartically writing a loosely fictional piece that went over my eventual exodus from the church and explored weaknesses and struggles I had.
A family member voiced concern over the writing and it was a valid criticism in most respects, that’s the whole “make allowance thing”. Maybe they have a point, if you would just step back for a moment. But I also didn’t trust myself enough. I allowed it to completely derail my writing at the time
The rubbing or criticism could lead to something productive if you let it.
In the last twelve months, I’ve made some of the hardest decisions of my adult life, including the decision to divorce. In many of those, I experienced a lot of doubt from external and internal sources. I’ve been sorely tempted to ‘take it back’, to reverse course.
The decisions were scary.
And while the verdict isn’t out yet on whether the decisions I made will pan out the way I want them to, I’m owning the decisions I’ve made and trusting myself.
As you might expect, I encountered doubt and criticism from well meaning people regarding the divorce. Close people. I get it. I understand why they would. Some were speaking from their own experiences, some from their own biases, some from genuine concern for my well-being. I did my best to heed their wisdom, make allowance for their doubting and criticism while charting this course. I’m not perfect, I’ve striven to keep the self centered part of my ego in check.
I don’t think I was 100% successful either.
But all of that didn’t take away the loneliness I’ve felt, even when people “had my back”. I made the call and stuck to it. But the world doesn’t necessarily cheer you on and applaud you. Some decisions you have to walk out on your own, and wait to see the outcome playout in the long run.
The waiting can be a burden all its own…