Monday, March 26, 2018
You've heard both sides: Overconfidence makes you feel good, gives you grit, and impresses others - but can also make you an arrogant jerk who alienates people, doesn't improve, and possibly loses everything because of denial. Being less confident gives you the drive and tools to become an expert and makes other people like you ... but it doesn't feel so good and can send a lousy signal to others about your competency.
Kinda sucks, doesn't it? Seems like there's no easy answer. You can impress people and make them angry or have them like you but not respect you. It feels like a contradiction. So how about this: What if you throw the whole confidence paradigm in the trash?
Don't scream heresy just yet. Plenty of research shows that looking through the lens of self-esteem might be the real reason the debate over confidence is so fraught with grief. But what's the alternative to self-confidence? University of Texas professor Kristin Neff says it's "self-compassion." Compassion for yourself when you fail means you don't have to be a delusional jerk to succeed and you don't have to feel incompetent to improve. You get off the yo-yo experience of absurd expectations and beating yourself up when you don't meet them. You stop lying to yourself that you're so awesome. Instead, you focus on forgiving yourself when you're not.
-Eric Barker, Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong