Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said that while it’s “healthy and perfectly human to have a little bit of doubt,” it’s important not to let these fears get in the way of pursuing a dream.
“What I’ve learnt throughout my life is that every success is built upon a thousand failures (or ‘opportunities to learn,’ as I like to think of them),” Branson said in his monthly “Ask Richard” LinkedIn newsletter, published Tuesday.
“Whenever doubt creeps in, I remind myself that dreams aren’t linear,” the billionaire entrepreneur added.
Branson said that he also tried to remind himself of all the “brilliant innovations and discoveries that would have come to nothing if their inventors had given in to their doubts.”
He cited a quote by philosopher Suzy Kazeem: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
Branson said it was important to discuss self-doubts with colleagues and friends, and listen closely to their feedback. If these conversations leave you feeling more confident, Branson urged readers to then push doubts aside.
He also recommended going out to “get some fresh air, and have a cup of tea” if self-doubt really starts to build up.
“Whenever doubt starts to get the better of me, I find exercise really helps,” Branson said, adding that he liked to go for a bike ride, play tennis or spend time with family.
“This is often when my best ideas come to me as well,” he said.
However, Branson also acknowledged that some self-doubt could be helpful, as it’s “how we make progress and stay in touch with reality.”
Having doubts might be the sign of a problem that needs to be addressed, he explained.
“If you demand proof from your doubt, you’ll be able to either squash it or solve the problem,” he said.
Branson recalled how the day after his airline Virgin Atlantic launched, in 1984, a bank manager came to his house and threatened to close down the business.
He said he then spoke to his team to help find a solution. “It was a very sweaty moment, but I didn’t let doubt creep in and we quickly fixed the issue,” he said.
Virgin Atlantic sought bankruptcy protection in the U.S. last year, having been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, like many airlines.
Earlier in July, Branson went to space on a test flight for his company Virgin Galactic, after nearly 17 years of development. He beat fellow billionaire spaceflight company founder, Jeff Bezos, by more than a week with his venture into space.