Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘estimate’

Overestimation: Two Takes

“Men overestimate their ability to fight or defend themselves by 4000%.” –Jake “Jakers” Parent

“People always overestimate their talents, always, and maybe as a consequence underestimate unexpected or unrealized talents.” –Christopher Waltz

This is interesting and, I admit, a bit scary. There’s a double negative here, isn’t there? No matter how good we might be at any particular whatever, Waltz suggests that we are never as good as we think we are. No accuracy in identifying the limit of our expertise. To make matters worse, in a world in which we are constantly advised to double-down on our strengths, both the internal and external incentives to stay in this not-as-sweet as we think sweet spot blinds us to the existence of other virtues that may actually trump our perceived alpha talent.

When I first read this I saw unexpected “consequences” where Waltz actually said “talents”, a totally different message. One only needs to glance at Jakers’ quote above to get a sense of what my mis-read might portend. Missing out on an undiscovered talent is at the same time less frightening (not learning that you can sing won’t get you beat up) and more. What if you never discover a talent that will elevate your family’s circumstances 2 or 5 or 10-fold? What if you are unaware that you can run a sub-4:00 mile if chased and instead stand and fight? What a bummer.

What’s really terrifying is the very thought of moving outside your zone, outside your lane, and exploring the thought that you might have an unexpected talent. What if you’re not as good at your present talent as you thought? What if you DON’T have another talent? This is as good as you get. If you have the courage to look into all of the corners of who you are and what you can do, you still have to have the strength to handle what you find. Some of those unexplored corners can house some pretty dark stuff.

Whether it leads to a consequence born of omission or commission, it behooves each of us to be conscious of this universal bias, that as good as we might be, we likely are not as good as we think we are.