Why Self-Doubt Might Be the First Step to Success

Elizabeth Gilbert is a few feet away from me. My heart is pounding (I might even be sweating a little bit) and I can feel my hands shaking.

My shortness of breath is partly due to my first time being in the presence of a female New York Times best-seller (something I aspire to be), but also because below my mouth is a microphone—something I haven’t used in a really long time.

I am an author, and for a while I was doing exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert is doing here—traveling and speaking to people about my book. But the last time I spoke in a room like this one, I knew it was the last time I would give that speech. I had said all I had to say about my first book. I wasn’t feeling emotional during the climax of the story anymore. It was time to move on.

I felt a little confused and guilty about this decision until last month, when I interviewed a musician (Will Wells, who worked on Hamilton and toured with Imagine Dragons) who, when I told him about leaving speaking, being in transition, working on my second book, said something like, “Oh yes of course! You just finished touring your first album!”

I wanted to hug him right then and there. It gave me so much relief.

When I was standing at the microphone just a few feet away from Elizabeth Gilbert, it had been a while since my last “tour,” since my voice was amplified to a large group of people. And despite being in Tallahassee for the TV show I’ve been hosting for years, I felt more exposed and scared in this moment than I ever have on camera or on stage.

When Elizabeth finishes her masterful talk (no PowerPoint, no props, just a woman and a bottle of water capturing an entire theater of hearts with the authenticity of storytelling), I immediately stand up to walk to the mic before everything inside me tells me to sit back down.

You might think someone who is very comfortable speaking on stages and TV shows and who has interviewed New York Times best-selling authors before would not be nervous. But for some reason, in this moment, asking a question I’ve been thinking about for two years, in front of an audience, and to a woman who does the job I aspire to do? It sends butterflies up through my shoes to my fingers.

But I do it anyway.

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