the value of self-doubt


Days until the Death Race: 2
Hours slept last night: 7

In the past month, the following quotes have been thrown around quite a bit:

  • Banish the doubt.
  • You have to know that you can do it. Otherwise, there is no point in even trying.
  • If you think you are not ready, you are not ready.
  • Fear is for the weak.
  • You can’t afford any doubt.
  • Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. (Someone quote Henry Ford at me during the Death Race. I dare you.)
  • Do or do not… there is no try. (Yes, even Yoda has been dragged into this.)


I think self-doubt is underrated. If I only did the things that I was sure I could do, I’d never get off the couch. Clearly, I am missing that confidence-bordering-on-insanity gene. Unlike Muhammad Ali, I’ve never wrestled with an alligator, and I don’t know if I could throw thunder in jail. Instead, I spend quite a bit of my time scared shitless.

I like this excerpt from the infamous Rocky Balboa monologue:

[Son]: So you nervous about the fight? Scared to death?
[Father]: Scared to death.
[Son]: You don’t look scared.
[Father]: Well, I ain’t supposed to.

So don’t you tell me to banish doubt. It would be simply… rude. Self-doubt and I are very close friends. Doubt has done a lot for me. At times, it’s like a friendship you’ve been in for so long, you don’t necessarily know what you are getting out of the relationship. You are simply used to their presence.

Think back to something you have done in the past. Something others may find challenging, but you never doubted yourself. You always knew you could do it. Did you feel accomplished when you finished? Sure.

How about completing something you didn’t think you could do? But you did it anyway? How did you feel then?

My very first endurance event lasted 8 hours. At that point my biggest athletic accomplishment was running a road 5k. There were four of us, in pain, and suffering. It took every last drop of my patience, kindness, strength and determination to keep pushing, and keep motivating my teammates. I’ve never cried as I’ve cried at that finish line, when it was announced that my team took first place. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done at that point.

I have two university degrees, hanging above my desk, as I write this, and neither of them has given me that sense of accomplishment. Why? Because I never doubted my ability to finish.

Years later, I’ve done events that do not even compare to that first endurance race. I’ve done races that were longer and harder. But.. they were easier.

So, screw Yoda and Henry Ford.

I’m with Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Now, some well-wishers take another line of reasoning altogether…

  • You are already a winner.
  • You didn’t quit if you gave it your all.
  • There is no finish line.

The latter sentiment was expressed beautifully by Josh Zitomer: “In my book THERE IS NO FINISH LINE and there is no first place, second place, third place, fourth place, etc. Every single person out there won. Being a death racer isn’t about making it 45 hours or 60 hours or 67 hours.”

Except there is. There is a finish line (however, arbitrary). And there is a first place. And a second. And while being a Death Racer is definitely not about making it to the finish line, being a Death Race finisher is.

The post was signed: “-Josh Zitomer, 2012 Death Race Finisher, 1132″

After pushing so hard, for so long, you better believe that finishing matters.

I want to finish the Death Race.

Do I doubt my ability to finish the Death Race?
Absolutely. [Like I said, self-doubt has taken me places, so I’m sticking to the methods that work].

Is there a possibility that I will finish?

Is there a possibility that I will not finish?

If the latter happens, will I be upset?

Will it be the end of the world?
Absolutely not.

Will I be back next year?

But if I choose to quit, then I will know that I have not crossed that finish line.

And before I can tell you that THERE IS NO FINISH LINE, I’d like to cross that line first.

The Death Race has begun…

Signing off,

You can stay caught up on all things Death Race, starting tomorrow here:

and here:

Posted June 19, 2013

17 responses to “the value of self-doubt”

  1. Captain says:

    I have little doubt you will put it all out there. Good luck this weekend.

  2. Kelly says:

    Can not wait to follow your journey. I’m not sure if its good luck or break a leg (the latter seems too close to home for this type of thing) so Ill just say there are 200 proud Mudd Queens cheering you on back home. AROO!

  3. Shauna says:

    I am so excited to hear you are going, cannot wait to follow your time there. You have people rooting for you!!

  4. Tr says:

    Great post Solo!! Good luck my friend – I’ll be cheering for you!!

  5. tormuse says:

    I’ve often said that you can’t help how you feel, but you can help how you act on how you feel.

    It’s not about “not being scared.” It’s about using that fear to spur you on to try harder.

    Good luck with the Death Race, Solo! 😀

  6. Sarah says:

    I really like this post. 🙂 It resonates because I am doing things that scare me. I have not done things that scare me for a long time. So, it’s scary. BUT, when you actually do those things and are looking back from the other side, the feeling is incredible! And I think it is important to remember that it doesn’t have to be a 24 hour forced march to make it scary. My scary things currently are jumping onto a 24″ box and climbing up a rope….they scare me but I am trying and when I get there, because I will get there, I am sure there will be another scary challenge just around the corner. I wish you all the best this weekend – enjoy the rush of facing your fears!!! 🙂

    • Solo says:

      Sarah, I agree. And yes, it doesn’t have to be the Death Race by a long shot!!! I can definitely relate to being scared of box jumps – don’t you kind of feel like you are going to break an ankle every time you do it?

  7. I find that self doubt is that fine line between crippling fear and the overly-confident. For me, it’s always the first step towards doing anything that’s out of my comfort zone – athletic or not. It motivates me to get off the couch.

    I think you are awesome and I can’t wait to here all about it from the other side of the race. 🙂

  8. nancyfrancis says:

    Oh good lord, good luck!

  9. […] Self-doubt does a little dance in my head. What if I fail and not accomplish these things that I publicly said I will accomplish? What if I’ll never write a book or run across Sahara? […]

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