Monday, March 17, 2008

The problem of overconfidence

I happen to believe that a lot of woes are brought on when people are overconfident. There are people who charge ahead and there are those that take a little more time and lag behind. I am a lagger behinder. I want to see the dark hole opening up before me instead of displaying overconfidence and falling in. I lag behind sometimes just to take the lay of the land, or to make sure I'm not saying something that is offensive to someone, or to make sure that I know what the question is before I answer it. I may seem a little too hesitant, and people may get the idea that they are smarter than me. Maybe.

Overconfidence is what people like Governor Spitzer display when they think they can pull the wool over everyone's eyes while they convince their overconfident selves that they are better than others, and the rules don't apply to them. People who are overconfident make a lot of really big mistakes. Careers (and worse) flounder over a simple case of bad judgement. We get lost when we are confident we know where we are going, and leave home without a map. We lose a game when we think we are so much better than the other team we don't need to practice. We crash our cars when we are overconfident that our big and powerful SUV will still win the race in ice and snow. On a larger scale, overconfidence led to the disasters at Chernobyl and the disentegration of the Space Shuttle. Some little careful person's memo about defects that could cause problems was ignored so that an overconfident superior could charge ahead.

When I was young, my husband and I used to laugh at my husband's mother, whose favorite saying was "You can't be too careful." Well, today I'm not laughing. I'd much rather be a little slower, a little less confident, a little more careful....than fall into the waiting hole.

Have a great day.