Is Your Over-Confidence Sinking your Success?

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers; he cites overconfidence is one rationalization we use to ignore the influences around us and that can cause us to fail.

I grew up with an amazing sense of direction. I had confidence that if I was taken anywhere, I could find my way home. I had never needed to ask for directions.

When I moved to the US, my overconfidence in that sense of direction resulted in many instances of being hopelessly lost. We had moved to a city that was planned around the rivers and railway lines that intersected through it, rather than on a grid system. My natural compass of north and south seemed to be turned upside down in the Northern Hemisphere and landmarks I would typically use, like hills and mountains in the distance, didn’t exist. Indiana was flat. The environment removed all the criteria for my confidence. Still I trusted in that innate sense of direction automatically without paying attention to all the clues from my environment. So I got lost more times than I will admit.

I encounter leaders who are confident in their skills. Sometimes, however, they fail to accomplish the results they want, especially when they are their primary resource. They sound annoyed with me when I ask questions about behaviors that might be getting in their way. They respond with rote, and sometimes impatient, answers displaying their confidence in their academic knowledge but usually reveal their lack of awareness of internal and external environmental triggers that block real insight.

Here are some things overconfidence can create barriers to:

Thinking that you know the answers and that you cannot fail doesn’t take into consideration the environment and its powerful distractions.

Trusting your instincts could lead you to ignore clues about environmental obstacles.

Confidence in your skills and experience might lull your alertness to changes and nuances in each individual situation.

Overconfidence in your ability to control events almost always entices you to ignore the powerful influences that the environment has over you.

In my work as a leadership development coach, I help leaders identify their overconfidence and how it thwarts their success. If you suspect that the environment is plotting against you, contact me.