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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Too Confident?

     “He has too much confidence,” the woman said.
     This was after a guy had dominated a discussion, declaiming at length and raising his voice to talk over the other participants. He even bulldozed those who were trying to agree with him. He brooked no contributions.
     We see a parallel in actual behavior. There are people who always have to be the boss, the decider, the center of attention. Some of them fail repeatedly. To them, being Number One is much more important than doing something well.
     Most of them have difficulty working with others, especially when they have management or leadership responsibilities. People go along with them, but without energy, enthusiasm or imagination. It’s not fun working with such people. It’s a morale killer, making for mediocre performance.
     There is a real question as to whether people who love authority should ever be allowed to have any. To them, power over others becomes a possession to enjoy, not a responsibility to manage. They see themselves as smarter and better because of being the boss.
     Are all those examples of too much confidence?
     No. Any one of many personal and attitudinal faults can lead to such behavior, but too much confidence is rarely one of them.

     Confidence is a matter of faith, which often means belief without objective evidence.
     Say, everyone but you sees no reason why some initiative will work, but you just know it will. Why? Where’s your proof? Well, there isn’t any. Just trust me. Let’s get going.
     What makes you so confident? If people have never seen such a thing work or – even worse – they’ve seen a similar effort collapse, why do you think it will succeed this time?
     If you just have a generalized optimism and/or are too impatient to do the necessary preparation, you might make it, but the odds will be against you. But if your positive expectation arises from experience, knowledge and judgment, you’ll win more than you’ll lose.
     One of the most useful qualities of true confidence is persistence. The confident person will stick with a project or idea much longer than other people will. Sure enough, a certain number of those noble efforts eventually will indeed fail. What happens then?
     For the confident person, it’s a lesson learned if it’s not simply a result of the percentages. When you’re not awash in regret or embarrassment or excuse-making, you can be rational in considering what just happened.

    Maybe it was a failure of preparation, or (often) communication. It could be that a person or organization turned out to be undependable. Your judgment may have been at fault, or your information incorrect. A post-event review, even a brief one, is invaluable.
     It could have been just the breaks. This time, your assessment of risk didn’t come through for you. Experts say successful executives of big corporations make the right judgment sixty percent of the time. That means they blow it four times out of ten.
     Whatever, you make it your business to learn something if you intend to keep being decisive. You’ll never be able to be right all the time. No one bats a thousand.
     The confident person understands that, and doesn’t miss a beat. This person knows progress is possible only for those who take chances – and is prepared to handle any negative consequences that might ensue.
     How do you get that way?
     It takes work. Confidence is largely built on competence, or the self-perception of competence. The person knows he/she has invested disciplined effort in preparation for success, and in determining the effort is worth a shot. There also are strategies for fallback actions, and for alternatives.
     If failure comes despite all that, it’s a lesson learned. The person is that much better prepared for the next challenge.

     People like that are natural leaders. We like being around them, and we can feel our own confidence swelling as we join in their enterprises.
     Besides their calm management of situations, they have time to talk and listen. They freely accept good ideas from any quarter.
     And they spend zero time on self-flagellation.
     People without adequate confidence agonize over their shortfalls more than they honor themselves for their accomplishments. This leads them to secretly agree with any critic, and they are deeply concerned about being exposed. They devote a lot of attention to avoiding any likelihood of humiliation or embarrassment.
     Those concerns outweigh their expectation of positive accomplishment, so they spend no time on planning and preparing for success. If you don’t expect to succeed, you have no incentive to seek it.
     Most of us achieve some acceptable balance between confidence and doubt, and do invest effort in building our abilities and raising our expectations of ourselves. Still, we always can work a little harder and rise a little higher. Maybe a lot higher.
     The inner glow of self-confidence is priceless. It’s well worth the effort.



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