HA Infomation



  • Does lack of confidence imply incompetence?

    03. 31. 2015 00:52


WARNING: skip this post if you don't want to hear my babbling. 

Confidence is a poor predictor of incompetence.
But does the lack of confidence imply incompetence? Based on my personal observation, I believe so.

Have you seen your coworkers or classmate showing nerviousness before giving a talk?
Have you met a date who don't feel fully confident?
Have you heard from salesperson who shows too much hesitation in his short pitch?

I am sure you have. I bet you have caught yourself projecting a lack of confidence too.

As a human being, I am guilty of this. And when I do, I do some self-reflection in attempt to understand myself better. More often then not, I am fail to show confidence because of the self-awareness that I am incompetent. For example:

Have I shown nerviousness before giving a talk?
Yes. I cannot convinced myself that I have drilled my presentation to perfection. I have not adequated prepared for tough questions from the audience. I have not rehearsed enough for my body language. This is why I am afraid. A good opera actor practices so much for his scene so that it has become second nature, alleviating his minds from worrying about the outcome of his own performance.

Have you met a date who don't feel fully confident?
I have. Turns out that she has not dated enough boys to understand the nuances the romance, so the partner has to do all the work in keeping the experience fun. I have been on giving end of the problem too. Dating, and to a certain extent meeting new people, requires considerable inter-personal skills. Yes, I am aware of that saying "just be yourself" But the ability to "be yourself" comes only after you have come to understanding yourself, and have learned how to creatively express your own personality. It takes practice and quite a bit of pain. Most smooth-talkers have put in their time learning from own failures, or learning from other people's mistakes. Their demeanors is the fruit of their hardwork.

Have you spoken a salesperson owner who shows too much hesitation in his short pitch?
I was that guy, and my boss was with me during that less-than-perfect pitch. I was asked to resign. I explained that the prospective client did not look interested judging from his facial expression. My boss pointed out that was not the reason I was let go and explained that salespersonals must not derive confidence from the audience's reactions. He must be the source of his own confidence. My boss' left me with 2 pieces of advice:

1) Confidence must be earned. You don't have the right to be confident unless you are good at what you do, or have a religious belief in what you do.

2) Do not hope for good outcomes unless you KNOW you have done an excellent job. If you are fair to yourself, you would rationally expect good outcomes for a job well done, ordinary outcomes for mediocre work, and bad consequences for a poor job. If you can accept this, you will no longer have to worry because you have removed the fear of uncertainty from your mind. You will be busy planning for the clean-up but not apprehensive. People often experience fear after a poor performance because they are uncertain whether negative consequence will ensue. Whya they uncertain? Well they have been lucky in the past in getting away with some of their mistakes. The sick thing is that, after getting lucky, the dark and secret side of them continues to wish for the same luck in the future!! And that false hope leads to a thrill. This is no different from the gambler's mindset. Defeat this deadly sin and you will be much more confident.

To me, lack of confidence reflects a self-acknowledgment that full diligence has not been fulfilled. It is actually a good thing since it invokes a feeling a guilt which often result in self-improvement. Of course, praises would have been a better motivator but guilt is nonetheless an effective driver.


  • Re : Does lack of confidence imply incompetence?

    03. 31. 2015 19:53


Very well said, thank you. 

  • Re : Does lack of confidence imply incompetence?

    04. 01. 2015 12:27


in my experience ... the most incompetent are also the most confident

self-doubt is a fundamental foundation of competence

those who have no idea what they are doing are usually the ones most blindly confident in their own mind

  • Re : Does lack of confidence imply incompetence?

    04. 01. 2015 17:22


Not many people are naturally good at what they do. Those without talent must work their way to become competent. Best way to become confident is to get other people to like you and cheer for you. Here is how you can do it.

Rule #1: Thou shalt get people to believe in you.
Possessing self-confidence is necessary but never sufficient. Your goal should be to get others to believe in your potential. So you need to project intelligence and integrity, and work your brain to make other people feel good about themselves. The moment you walk out the door of your bedroom you have to be your best self. If you act like you have faith in others, people will reciprocate. When you have a bunch of people cheering for you, you will start believing in yourself.

Rule #2: Work hard, but don't let people know about your hard work.
Whenever you earn recognitions for good work, don't let people know you have put in lots of efforts. The primitive part of our brain (the subconscious) craves for leaders and mates who are genetically superior, that is, people who are innately good at doing something. Those who have to work hard to achieve something are presumed to have reached the full potential of their ability. There is little more room to grow. On the other hand, people who don't need to work hard to get something done can achieve greater heights should he put in more efforts! Of course this is just a fallacy that plagues people's mind. But don't fall victim to it. Don't show people your hard work. Instead, tell people you got help from good friends and so you didn't really have to try hard!

Rule #3: Hide your mistakes!!!
Yes, hide your mistakes. Many people make blunders as part of the learning pain. But as mentioned in Rule #2, people in general prefer natural talents then diligence. In America, parents outwardly cheer for underdogs but secretly hope that their sons and daughters are natural talents. So, don't be a victim. Understate your past mistakes. To do this effectively, you mention and dwell on some small mistakes of yours, and people will assume that you are being completely forthcoming! They rarely consider the possibility that you have committed even bigger errors in the past. "Wow, this guy get to become this good with so little hiccups. He must be smart."

Self-confidence can be instrinsic, or it can be the result of people believing in you. The latter is simpler to achieve if you know what you are doing.