Episode 114 S3-33
Dangers of Overconfidence
The Walls of Freedom Ch 33
Sara F. Hathaway
You need a little overconfidence if you intended on surviving when things go very wrong. However, there is a fine line between healthy overconfidence and dangerous overconfidence. The threats of overconfidence can be the difference between life and death. Have no fear because with some simple checks you can make sure you are avoiding the pitfalls of overconfidence.
I found this quote while researching this topic and I don't think I could have said it any better myself:
"Confidence is an essential ingredient of success in a wide range of domains ranging from job performance and mental health to sports, business and combat. Some authors have suggested that not just confidence but overconfidence—believing you are better than you are in reality—is advantageous because it serves to increase ambition, morale, resolve, persistence or the credibility of bluffing, generating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which exaggerated confidence actually increases the probability of success. However, overconfidence also leads to faulty assessments, unrealistic expectations and hazardous decisions, so it remains a puzzle how such a false belief could evolve or remain stable in a population of competing strategies that include accurate, unbiased beliefs." -Nature.com
Learning the dangers of overconfidence and how they would apply to self-defense and prepping basics is essential for long term survival. ARTrainer.com outlines six threats that overconfident leaders face but I think it is safe to apply these principles to any activity which produces a feeling of overconfidence.
Overconfidence causes a dismissal of differing opinions, even from trusted sources. When applied to self defense, a defender might feel confident in their ability to avoid a certain attack. They may dismiss the advice of their instructor with excuses like they don't fully understand my abilities.
In prepping this happens a lot. Everyone has their opinion on food storage, water storage, ammo supplies etc. Once they have been engaged in a certain way of doing thing for a long time these individuals feel they are "experts" and don't need additional input from anyone because they already know the "perfect" system. They feel as if other folks don't have the experience and understanding of the circumstances the way they do.
Overconfidence causes believers to minimize negative indicators. In a self defense situation a fighter might feel like their supreme ability will best another person's skills. They may dismiss a key skill of the opponent with excuses about how even though that concern may be relevant for other fighters it is not relevant for them.
This downplay of negative indicators also happens in the prepping world. How many time have you heard, "I'm not preparing for that because there's no way that will happen here." There is a chance that any number of threats could produce themselves and to prepare for some and not others while being confident in your ability to survive anything isn't rational. I myself am guilty of this. A pandemic would be my worst nightmare. I don't prepare for it because I would never want to live through it, leaving my preps lacking in that area.
Overconfidence may cause an individual to take excessive risks. Knowing that you have the ability to defend yourself doesn't mean that you go looking for a fight. Any altercation you are never in is one you will walk away from. Don't let overconfidence in self-defense skills get you into trouble.
The same is true for prepping. Just because you are prepared to survive a catastrophe doesn't mean you go and make one happen. The long term situations that are often discussed here will hopefully remain fiction forever. Personal and natural disasters are the main threats we prepare for and if a long term situation did happen I'm sure we'd all want our old lives back. Be careful what you wish for.
Overconfidence causes people to assume that past success will mean future success. This is easy to understand when applied to self-defense. The more you dominate in fights the more confidence you build that you will be able to win every fight. However, we all have bad days and there is always someone better. Confidence is essential but stay vigilant.
When applied to prepping it is also easy to see how this success leads to success theory can be very dangerous. For example people who survived one storm think they can weather them all. Or, we evacuated successfully last time so we don't need to give ourselves as much time next time. Both of these assumptions could be fatal mistakes.
Overconfident people rarely see themselves as overconfident. In self-defense situations they might not admit that they are walking into the fight with too much confidence they will win, only to be proven wrong. In prepping these people may boast how they are ready for any disaster and there is nothing that could shake them.
It takes a lot of hard work to rise to the top for any skill. As you put in more and more time you start to feel like you have all the answers and your secrets to success will be yours forever, right? Wrong. Gary Korisko states in his article "What to Do When Success Bights You in the Ass," these people develop what he calls "expertitis." The overconfidence in their success causes them to believe they are fool proof and their pride, while healthy at the start, begins to blind them from threats. Gary advises us to "Stay alert. The answers change. Often."
Gary suggests five easy ways to check yourself:
Stay humble - Don't assume you know it all. There is always more to learn.
Stay approachable - Help others learn. Let them ask you questions, you may learn something yourself.
Stay imperfect - Being perfect puts you out of the realm of aspiration. People want to know you are trying and having success and failures too.
Remain curious - Keep thinking. There is always a way to do something better, smarter, faster, etc. Stay hungry.
Realize you are never too smart to learn from anyone - That is the absolute truth. Take the time to listen to others. Even if you don't use the advice, you may find some gold nuggets where you least expected to find them.
These checks will ensure you avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence. Carefully examine your personal line between healthy overconfidence and dangerous overconfidence. A little overconfidence is essential for surviving and thriving but the threats of overconfidence can be the difference between life and death.
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