district 105

Where Leaders Are Made

district 105

toastmasters international

From Self-Doubt to Self-Leadership

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Imagine your 16-year-old-self.

In a school auditorium.
Full of teachers and students.
“House Captains and Vice Captains” elections.
Votes being counted by the Committee. One by one. Meticulously.
All the competitors waiting for the results. Anxiously.

And, the results. Finally.

“The House Vice – Captain of St. Xavier’s Carmel House 1996 – 1998 batch is…..”
“Any guesses?”
“Razia Khatoon, Grade 11-S”

A big round of applause followed.

I stood up, smiled, and waved at everyone.
I deserved this position.
I had been a Long Jump champion, an athlete and a team player.

I had created a legacy.
My name would be written on that big brown board in the Hall and it would be there for years to come.

But, my inner conscience quietly questioned me “Will you be able to lead this position?”

All of a sudden, I felt myself trapped in self-doubt.
I felt vulnerable in the “Tyranny of How’s”.
“How will I handle this big responsibility?”

A few days passed. I was still grappling with self-doubt.
My father, who was also my sports mentor, noticed my anxiety.
One day he called me to his library and made me sit next to him. He listened to me patiently and explained how self-doubt exists in everyone. What matters the most, is how we deal with it.

He made me aware of the 3 golden rules of self-leadership:
1. Talk to yourself positively
2. The best way to overcome self-doubt is to “simply do it”
3. Before leading others, learn to lead yourself”

I started practicing his advice consistently and as a result, my leadership helped my team achieve greater heights.

Fast forward to April 2018.

I joined Abu Dhabi Toastmasters to overcome my fear of Public Speaking.

I had prepared my Icebreaker speech well, but a few seconds before the speech, the familiar foe resurfaced; “Self –doubt”.

My inner monologue reeled again “Will you be able to speak on stage?”

I was once again haunted by the fear of failure and judgment.

My mind travelled back all the way to Grade 11.

But then, my father’s golden rules echoed in my mind.

I took 3 deep breaths, smiled at my audience and started speaking.

I took that first giant step.

I simply did it.

I applied the same mantra in DTAC – 2021 – 2022 and won the 2nd Prize for District 105, Evaluation Speech contest.

If you are also caught in the labyrinth of self-doubts, practice these leadership skills:

  1. Self-awareness: Be aware of your emotions consciously.
  2. Self-reflection: Reflect every day and see what works best for you and what doesn’t.
  3. Self-regulation: Reframe your thoughts from negative to positive.

Bonus tip:

Anchor yourself: Identify a part of your body that is sensitive. Whenever you are caught in the self-doubt trap, just pinch yourself there to get back to your senses.


There are two wolves within us fighting against each other.

One is self-doubt and the other one is self-leadership.

Which one wins?

The one you FEED the most.

And the advice I would give my 16-year-old self would be to “Learn to lead yourself FIRST”.


Where Leaders Are Made