Monday, November 01, 2004

No Doubt

So far, I have refrained from posting anything about the US Election, mainly because it would just be one post among countless others on the subject and it probably wouldn't say anything new. However, I saw something yesterday that made me change my mind.

I was watching Jonathan Dimbleby on ITV at lunch time and he was interviewing all sorts of people from both sides of the election fight. One of the journalists Dimbleby talked to was Bob Woodward, who has had some exclusive access to the White House and the President over recent months or something. He talked about one conversation with Bush where he described how Tony Blair experienced doubt about what he was doing when he received hate mail. Woodward asked Bush whether he ever had any doubt and Bush immediately and vehemently replied that he didn't. Woodward said this as though it were a good thing. As if it showed Bush to be a strong, decisive leader.

I thought about it and it hit me that this was completely the wrong way round. There's a word for people who don't have any doubt whatsoever in their beliefs. They are called fanatics.

Far from being a negative feeling, doubt is one of the most important qualities that any leader can have. It changes your frame of mind and forces you to re-evaluate your position and question your judgment. Under that sort of self-examination, you have to persuade yourself all over again that you are doing the right thing. Therefore, it is a check and balance mechanism that is absolutely essential for good decision-making.

A leader who doesn't experience doubt isn't strong. Quite the opposite, in fact. It takes real strength to stick to something that you believe to be right despite grave doubts. Without doubt constantly forcing you to re-examine your motives and methods, you can easily end up following a path that will lead to trouble.

Quite simply, a man with no doubt at all is dangerous.

No comments: