Confidence Matters

Harvard Business Review BlogWho am I to disagree with a writer for the Harvard Business Review? I’m nothing compared to him, nowhere near as smart. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says that “Less Confident People are More Successful” so my first two sentences must mean I’m a wild success because my lack of confidence is on full display.

Tomas may indeed be smarter than me but that doesn’t make him right. Confidence does matter and his article makes clear Confidence Mattersthat he does not understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. He makes three points in the article and all are easily refuted.

Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to negative feedback and be self-critical

While that may be true, what about that statement says that high self-confidence makes you ignore negative feedback and makes you less self-critical? I’m a very confident person (some may even say over confident) but I put a huge value on feedback and negative feedback is much more important to me than positive feedback. Anyone can tell me an idea is great but I want to find the holes in my logic, the problems I’m too close to see. My confidence has nothing to do with my critical thinking abilities. There isn’t a decision I’ve made that I haven’t gone back and evaluated how I could improve upon it, it’s called learning and it’s something I believe in and confidence doesn’t diminish that.

Lower self-confidence can motivate you to work harder and prepare more

Again the statement itself is true but motivation comes in many forms and my confidence doesn’t diminish the various motivating factors that make up my ambition. As I write in What Next: “motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.” Once the fire is burning confidence will help you to carry it like a torch to light the way for others.

Lower self-confidence reduces the chances of coming across as arrogant or being deluded

And here it is. Tomas is equating confidence with arrogance and they are two very different things. Confidence may look like arrogance when someone’s opinion doesn’t agree with your own but who’s really being arrogant in that situation?

The points raised in the article are good ones but here’s how I’d present them. Be confident but value other’s opinions. Be confident and stoke the flames of motivation. Be confident but not arrogant. Done.


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