Why You Are Not As Good As You Think You Are

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As I was approaching a stoplight on my way to work this morning, some asshat (Thanks Havi - see full definition here) random person in a red SUV tore past me well over the speed limit, cut in front of me, and came to a complete stop at the stoplight for a good 10 to 20 seconds.

My reaction was to change lanes, take my foot of the accelerator, and coast up to the light until it turned green, which allowed me to sail past the asshat lovely person that had to jam their accelerator to hurriedly pass me again when the light turned green.

If you would have stopped the other driver and asked him who better at driving, him or me, more than likely he would have said that he was the better driver. As a comparison, if I asked you to rate your driving in comparison with everyone on the road, you would likely tell me that you were a much better driver than most of the asshats other drivers on the road.

You Are Not Alone

In a famous research study done way back in 1981, Ola Svenson found that 46.3% of Americas believed that they were in the top 20 percent of safest drivers. Other surveys have show similar results when it comes to intelligence, social behavior, and other measurable activities. There is even a term for it in social psychology, Illusory Superiority.

You Are Not As Good As You Think You Are

The effect of this belief is that many of us tend to believe that we are better at something than we are. This could be driving, writing, creative pursuits, management, business, or any number of activities in our daily lives. The truth is that we are not as good as we think we are, but we can change that.

How to Find Out if You Are Not As Good as You Think You Are

There is only one activity that I know of that allows me to understand how good I am at something . . . asking someone else in a very specific manner that allows you get feedback on how to get better.

I learned this from, “Jack Canfield’s Success Principles (FTC Guide Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate Link)”, and it was reinforced my Marshall Goldsmith in his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (FTC Guide Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate Link).”

The exercise is simple. When you have driven someone around for awhile, been in a relationship or provided a service, ask them, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate my performance at X.”

Where X is the activity you want to get feedback on. Add on to that, “If it wasn’t a 10, then what can be done to make it a 10 the next time?”

Now here is the tough part. When someone tells you how you can improve, don’t try to defend yourself. Just sit there, listen, and try to understand what you are doing that can be improved, and then say, “Thank you“.

This is an amazingly simple exercise, but one that many people fail to do. Whether it is ego, pride or an inability to take feedback, you have the opportunity to understand what you are doing well and what you need to improve. The trick is asking someone to find out what you don’t realize about yourself, that you are not as good as you think you are.

After reading this, what activities in your life do you think you are better at then you really are? Who could you ask that would help you see where you need improvement? Can you be open to that improvement?

Let me know in the comments.

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If you liked this post, then you should also check out:

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  3. Are You Looking at the Giant Leap When You Should Focus on the Little Steps?
  4. The Cake is a Lie
  5. How to be a Superhero – Part 2: Becoming more Aware

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