Categories: Uncategorized

by Darrin Schenck

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Categories: Uncategorized

by Darrin Schenck

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Which Side of the Dunning-Kruger Effect are You?

In case you are unfamiliar (with the name at least) Here is a brief definition of each aspect:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias[2] in which people with limited competence in a particular domain overestimate their abilities. Some researchers also include the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills. In popular culture, the Dunning–Kruger effect is often misunderstood as a claim about general overconfidence of people with low intelligence instead of specific overconfidence of people unskilled at a particular task.

You can jump to the rest of the details on Wikipedia here.

In essence, what the above is saying is the lots of people who are not terribly informed, educated and/or capable THINK they are right about something when actually they are not.  And the opposite is also true, where an educated or experienced person thinks that since they know how to do something that others probably do as well.  All you have to do is go to any sporting event and listen to the crowd’s comments.  It is laughable and personally I find it very detracting for the sporting event itself.  To sit near someone at a college football game that never played any type of sport, let alone at that level of play, and listen to them chastise a receiver for dropping a pass from 50 rows up in the stands is hard for me to stomach.  Yes, I was disappointed too, but not to the point of screaming that I would never have dropped that pass.  This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in action…people who do NOT know what they are talking about pretending that they do.  And the sad part is that most of them are convinced that they are right or could do it better.  This goes right back to the famous Man in the Arena speech by Teddy Roosevelt, and everyone should have to recite this on a weekly basis.  The world would be a happier and more peaceful place if everyone did.  Here is it:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In other words, if you are the one sitting on the sidelines, you have no business criticizing those on the field.  This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in action; people who are under-informed, convinced they know what they are talking about.  The world is full of people like this, and the sooner you recognize that you may in fact be one of them, the better off you will be.  Winning you Fantasy Football league does not make you a coach.  Criticizing someone on social media does not make you a Psychologist.

On the flipside of this, there is the opposite effect as well.  I struggle with this at times; I question whether I really should be doing executive coaching when I have never built and sold a successful business myself.  I forget that the path to success is very similar in any format, and the skills that are acquired along the way apply across the board, regardless of the chosen endeavor.  Sitting down in a CEO’s office who is looking to get to the next level can be an intimidating experience and I don’t want to downplay this.  My successes in my chosen sport and as a coach have a ton of application for anyone else, and sprinkle in a similar level of success in sales and I am sitting on a better life resume than most people.  The mountain I chose to climb taught me the path, and that path can be laid down on any other mountain to a large degree.  That said, I still question myself at times when I am working with someone new.  When I stay focused on looking for ways to assist them and have viable suggestions or actions they can implement, the problem is solved.  I am “validated” at that point and I can quit worrying about my own perceived insecurities in front of this person.  I know that I know what I am talking about, and yet I allow my own concerns to creep into my head.  Like the second part of the definition stated, since I can do it, I sometimes assume that others can too and therefore I am not contributing much.

If you find yourself on this side of the coin, it is still an issue to be aware of.  You may be short-selling yourself in a big way, and you need to fix that.  The world may be in need of your knowledge and talent and feeling “unqualified” will deprive you of a chance to make an impact and the world of your knowledge.  As I stated, I struggle with this in some cases.  If I am teaching someone how to be a better racquetball player, I see myself as an ultimate authority and never question my resume or experience.  I was number 18 in the world for three years, no need for concern.  But am I the 18th best Sales Coach or Executive Coach in the world?  No…not yet anyway.  Does that mean I don’t have something of value to contribute to the other person?  Of course not.  It’s just that most people are very uncomfortable living in that “gray area” I just described.  Since there are many ways to live a life and be successful, I am not sure that I will ever reach the same level of authority like I did in the sport of racquetball.  Challenge accepted nonetheless.

In conclusion, I encourage you to take a step back once in a while and really self-evaluate when you find yourself “convinced” you are right about a particular topic.  It doesn’t have to be sports, it can be business decisions, relationships, etc. make sure you actually know what you are talking about before you word vomit your opinions.  If you do, and the statements you make are defensible, then you are probably safe to do so.  But if you really don’t know form experience what you are talking about, you may wish to think twice before you open your mouth.  Just sayin’…

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

 

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