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What’s wrong with being (Over)Confident?

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In SHIFT #8 we covered 5 reasons why we fail to execute our plans.

In this edition, we dive into why we don’t prepare for failure. Why we cannot see it coming – even when it’s staring us right in the face.

All of us believe good things about ourselves and our work. This natural tendency means that feedback, complaints, and other indicators of failure can be easy to overlook or be misinterpreted. We often let our own biases get in the way of seeing the truth. This can lead to missed opportunities to correct course and prevent failure.

Welcome to our 10th edition!

?In this issue of the SHIFT, we explore:

5 reasons we tend to be overconfident.

?? Doubt-avoidance: Uncertainty causes the brain to use a lot of energy, and makes us uneasy. Our brains want to resolve conflicting information as quickly as possible to return to physical and mental comfort. This can result in an underestimation of potential failures or risks.

Allow yourself to look at a situation in ways that may feel uncomfortable. They will ultimately guide you to better solutions.


?Inconsistency-avoidance: Humans have a natural tendency to seek consistency in their beliefs and actions. It helps our brains to conserve energy. So, if we believe our processes or projects are good, we also believe they will never fail. We become overconfident in the reliability and effectiveness of our systems, hindering our ability to proactively design for failure.

Leave room to experiment and grow. A failed project does not make you a failed professional, rather it adds to your experience.


?Incentives: In many roles, being a confident leader is half the job. In organisations, leaders that express doubt or have an acute awareness of our shortcomings tend to be replaced by more confident ones.

Making space for errors and learning from failures ensures that organizations do not reward overconfidence.


?? Denial: When customers or team members point out flaws or potential points of failure, we become defensive. We become focused on defending our ideas instead of finding ways to make them better. We feel overconfident because we have invested so much work into the project.

It is essential to remain open-minded and be willing to accept criticism.


?Endowment effect: The endowment effect is the tendency to overvalue something simply because it is owned by us or done by us. We underestimate the chances of them failing. This can lead to a false sense of security and a lack of contingency plans. It can also make us less likely to recognize warning signs and to accept advice from others.

Separate yourself from your work to evaluate it practically, rather than emotionally. Get feedback from those who will give you unbiased opinions.

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