The Insane Side of Self-Belief
Self-belief is dangerous. G.K. Chesterton said, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves…The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
Believing in yourself is dangerous when it promotes individualism and minimizes community.
People who believe in themselves don’t have to do anything to maintain self-belief. Lousy managers believe in themselves. Inexperienced knuckleheads believe in themselves.
You should feel self-doubt when you’re called to lead a team and you’ve never led a team.
Self-doubt is better than self-belief when it motivates preparation.
Self-belief is dangerous when it enables a do-it-my-way approach in novices.
7 dangers of self-belief:
- Thinking you know when you’re ignorant. Novices overestimate their knowledge and abilities. (Dunning-Kruger Effect)
- Practicing a ‘go it alone’ approach to new challenges. You insult potential when success is reached without help.
- Rejecting counsel from experienced people because it doesn’t feel right. Wisdom feels wrong to fools.
- Blaming failure on circumstances or others. Self-belief rejects responsibility.
- Not seeking feedback after success.
- Ignoring discomforting feedback because it causes self-doubt.
- Criticizing leaders from the sidelines when you haven’t led yourself.
Confident self-doubt takes you further than mythical self-belief.
The difference between confidence and believing in yourself is practice, repetition, failure and achievement. Have you learned new skills in the past? Have confidence you can learn new skills today. Have you overcome obstacles in the past? Have confidence you can overcome obstacles today.
Confidence with self-doubt is better than believing in yourself for no reason.
Self-confidence based on commitment to work takes you further than self-deception.
Make yourself uncomfortable. When good feelings are reasons to aim low and snuggle with a warm blanket, you defeat yourself.
Just because you’re great at playing basketball doesn’t mean you’re great at playing baseball.
When does self-belief lead people astray?
How might leaders use self-doubt?
The 6 Powers of Healthy Self-Doubt
10 Stupid Things Smart Leaders Do
Self-doubt can actually help you bloom
Great post, Dan! “Just because you’re great at playing basketball doesn’t mean you’re great at playing baseball” emphasizes that even experienced leaders are essentially novices outside their area(s) of expertise. A humble self-awareness and appreciation for the skills of those around us guards against such hubris. All the best.
Thanks for a well-articulated comment. “Humble self-awareness” speaks to me. Great use of language.
When self-belief is based on insecurity and inferiority, it produces a dogmatic attitude and a false confidence in your knowledge and skills.
When self-belief is based on solid experience, self-reflection, and lessons learned it produces an open attitude and true confidence in your knowledge and skills.
Thanks Paul. It seems that healthy self-belief is humble. We know when we’re headed in the right direction when it pulls us toward humility instead of arrogance.
“Healthy self-belief”–It’s grounded in reflection and soul searching. “Know thyself” is a challenging task for everyone.
I think a healthy self-belief is strong and assertive but also humble. You always need to keep the door open a bit for new ideas and insights. But I would emphasize the “strong and assertive” part of the equation.
You reminded me of Brene’ Brown’s use of “grounded confidence,” which seems brilliant to me.
The best leaders know what they don’t know. A big ego, whether validated through previous experience or not, will cause downfall – one way or another.
Thanks DJ. It’s so easy to think we know. It’s better to enter situations with a learners attitude than a knowers attitude. Cheers.
Learners attitude = continued curiosity. The only way forward for effective leadership, IMO!