Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession

Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession
“Sophilos Dinos” (wine-bowl) showing guests arriving at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. In the first car -Zeus and Hera, 2nd-Poseidon and Amphitrite. Source: British Museum (Wikicommons)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Overconfidence is underrated

Have you ever seen a blind man walking with a stick flawlessly ? I saw one today, very much like this one in this video.



Not all legally blind walk this way, but the ones that do are are a sight [no pun indented] to behold. Where does their steadiness, sureness comes from, if not from over-the-top confidence ?

On March 8, 2017, WSJ published an article, authored by Joann S. Lublin, "Overconfident CEOs: Their Era Is Ending". The writeup says overconfident CEOs "take too many risks" citing Don A. Moore of UC Berkeley Hass's School of Business.
"Top executives attribute their success to their own brilliance and neglect the role of circumstance and good fortune."

This statement, in my opinion, doesn't hold water. Number one, confidence or utmost confidence is not something somebody is born with. Is is something painstakingly achieved thought sweat work and personal achievement. Overconfidence is not random but a result of thought exercise and mental conditioning, bringing forth target, attention and intention. The existing problem is that so many executives lack that "overconfidence", or else why would there be so many confidence "bootcamps" and a whole litany of career coaches ? I have never heard of a career coach hired to defuse somebody's confidence yet, they all get paid to improve CEO confidence within the overall corporate performance. Let it be clear overconfidence doesn't mean use of vulgarity, profanity or beration. Career coaches get hired to improve the communication skills and public images of CEOs. A mean person who lacks control of his/hers emotions shouldn't be a CEO to begin with.


The WSJ article has an anchoring bias: the CEO [higher up] position is the frame of reference while ignoring the benefits of that overconfidence which is what it took the individual to get to up to that level. Overconfidence is given little credit for developing a CEO who, without it, arguably wouldn't be there.

Overconfidence, it seems, is not only desirable, but in short supply. So why is it taking a bad rap ? I think it is because most people don't have it. It is easier to blame it for actual or imagined management ills than it is to develop it. To be clear, I do not advocate irresponsibility, nor do I believe in CEOs not making changes they need to make. One of the most important attributes for anyone is learning from past mistakes and refashioning themselves.

The question of confidence and success has been rephrased like a chicken and egg question, as confidence and success feed on each other. However, the answer to which comes first, confidence or success is clear: confidence, more specifically overconfidence. Before the leader becomes the leader presumably before the virtuous cycle of success it was overconfidence that gave birth to that cycle.

Can you seriously look that blind man in the face and tell him that he is overconfident ? If you have been failing, can you seriously look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you've failed cause you were too confident ?

For what is faith, but overconfidence in a higher power ?

I will follow up on this post with an "extreme confidence" write up. People seem to be more receptive to "extreme confidence" than they are to overconfidence.

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