The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Excessive Self-Regard Tendency'?

Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is the natural tendency to overestimate your own abilities.

Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is more pronounced if you don't know much about the subject at hand. The more incompetent people are, the less they realize they are incompetent. On the contrary, the more you know about a subject, the more accurate your perception of your competence will be.

Once you learn more, you become "consciously incompetent": you know what you don't know. Developing "conscious competence", knowing what you're doing, takes experience, knowledge and practice. A healthy amount of humility can keep you from assuming you know everything, and therefore making you want to keep learning.

Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is common, don't think you're immune to it. It helps to cultivate relationships with people who aren't afraid to tell you when you're wrong.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Excessive Self-Regard Tendency'

Every few months, television viewers around the world cringe while delusional contestants on American Idol show the world just how horrible they are at singing.

The most fascinating part of this spectacle isn't the epic display of tone-deafness-it's the fact that many of the people auditioning believe they're talented singers.

The contrast is astounding-how could anyone be so horribly wrong? Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is the natural tendency to overestimate your own abilities, particularly if you have little previous experience with the matter at hand.

Being optimistic about our capabilities has benefits-it increases the probability we'll try something new. That's how people accomplish great things-they do them before discovering that they were previously thought to be impossible.

Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs, built the world's first personal computer. Here's what he had to say about the experience:

I never had done any of this stuff before, I never built a computer, I never built a company, I had no idea what I was doing.

But I was going to do it, and so I did it.

Woz didn't know what he was doing, but he thought he could, so he did.

Unfortunately, our natural confidence comes at a cost-the potential for harmful self-delusion. Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is even more pronounced if you don't know much about the subject at hand.

The more incompetent a person is, the less they realize they're incompetent. The more a person actually knows, the better their ability to self-assess their capabilities, and the more likely they are to doubt their capabilities.

According to Drs. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, Charles Darwin's famous quip "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" is literally true.

They explain the "Dunning-Kruger Effect" as follows:

  1. Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
  2. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
  3. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
  4. If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

People who are "unconsciously incompetent" don't know they're incompetent, and that's dangerous. That's why every barber and taxi driver you meet is an expert on the economy and international politics.

Once someone learns a bit more about what they're doing they become "consciously incompetent"-they know they don't know what they're doing.

Developing "conscious competence"-the state of knowing what they're doing-takes experience, knowledge, and practice.

A certain amount of humility is a valuable self-correcting quality. Overconfidence sometimes produces greatness, but it's a high-risk bet-without guidance, you're far more likely you'll find yourself in a bad situation. Cultivating a healthy amount of humility can keep you from erroneously assuming you know everything there is to know about everything, then painfully discovering otherwise.

Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is why it's important to have trusted advisors who aren't afraid to tell you if you're making a mistake.

One of the easiest ways to get yourself in trouble via Excessive Self-Regard Tendency is estimating deadlines-overconfidence is a major cause of the Planning Fallacy.

When I agreed to write this book, I thought it would take about six months-but I'd never written a book before, so I really had no idea. Several of my more experienced friends and advisors counseled that it would probably take a year, and I'm very glad I listened-they were right.

All of us are prone to overestimating our abilities.

Padding your team with "yes men" is deadly because people who always agree with you can't help you correct for this tendency-people who always support your decisions won't prevent you from making huge mistakes. Cultivate relationships with people who aren't afraid to tell you when you're making questionable assumptions or going doing the wrong path.

These are valuable friends indeed.

Questions About 'Excessive Self-Regard Tendency'


"I haven't been wrong since 1961, when I thought I made a mistake."

Bob Hudson, politician


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/excessive-self-regard-tendency/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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