Overconfidence is an interesting term. To be overconfident suggests that there is such thing as too much confidence. Since confidence is associated with a whole host of benefits, it would be really handy to understand the different between being extremely confident in a way that helps you and too confident so that it harms you. So, let’s explore.

The confidence you have in yourself enables you to perform as effectively as you can. Being confident puts you physically and mental into a state of high performance. Most top athletes, musicians and performers find themselves playing and performing at their very best when they are feeling confident. We can see this in the way Usain Bolt talks about his upcoming race or we can remember another example with how Muhammed Ali described what round he was going to knock his opponent out in. The confidence that a surgeon needs to have before an operation or the confidence your lawyer has when he or she is defending you is something that makes you feel more at ease. Confidence has been found to be an extremely attractive quality as well and makes people far more persuasive.

So, with all those wonderful benefits to confidence, what do we mean when we talk of overconfidence? Well, firstly, it’s important to understand that, in many ways, overconfidence is a retroactive term. In other words, we can only accurately call someone overconfident after they have failed to achieve what they thought they could achieve. So, an average looking guy approaches a gorgeous model to ask her out. We might call him overconfident, but if he actually succeeds… then he was not ‘overconfident’. He was confident enough to get a yes. Furthermore, a girl is positive that she will get a job that she is going for. That confidence helps her to ace the interview and makes her much more likely to get it. Again, we might initially say ‘overconfident’ but once again time proves otherwise.

Yet there are times that we must be on guard against being too confident. When we decide to invest money or make big decisions based on our confidence in ourselves or the situation, we need to double check and consider the decision much more carefully You see, the only thing you have to protect yourself from when you ask someone out or go for an interview is the possibility that you might come across arrogant. As long as this doesn’t happen your confidence makes you more likely to succeed. Whereas when you make a decision that will affect your future longer term then you are risking far more.

In many ways overconfidence led to the recession. The specific individuals that started the whole mess made decisions based upon their belief that they could predict the future. Maybe they had predicted the future successfully many times in the past. Regardless, they had no reason to believe that their prediction was going to be flawless this time as well. Their overconfidence, which we can only identify in hindsight, lead to terrible decisions that negatively impacted many peoples lives across the world.On X factor, we get plenty of examples of people with no singing talent declaring that they will spend their life pursuing their dream in the belief that they will make it even though their voice is agony to listen to. In cases like this, it’s important to know the distinction between useful extra confidence and overconfidence.

Here is a strategy that can help. First, ask yourself whether or not confidence will help you be more likely to achieve your outcome or not. If so, allow yourself be as confident as you need to be by reminding yourself of all your achievements in the past and how great you are. If not, consider the realistic potential outcomes and what you need to prepare for. Even if confidence will be useful, ask yourself what challenges might be presented to you by being this confident.

The three key challenges you will face will be a) arrogance which makes you come across in an undesirable way b) complacency which causes you to not bother working hard as you feel like you don’t need to and c) excessive risk taking behaviour which occurs as a result as you don’t see it as a big risk after all. You need to ensure that confidence doesn’t turn into arrogance. Next, you need to ensure you are working as hard as you need to. Last, it’s important to consider the real risk and make an intelligent evaluative decision based upon accurate and reliable data. When you consider all three of these issues, you will find yourself super confident but never over confident! I’m sure of that 😉


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