By Prof Natarajan
Confidence is one’s ability to foresee whether or not they would be able to achieve a certain desired objective by pursuing a certain path of action. The path to the future is paved with uncertainties. As they say, there is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.
There is a thin line of distinction between confidence and overconfidence. They are not two separate territories. Confidence exhibited by one person may be rated ‘overconfidence’ by another. In statistics we deal with degrees or levels of confidence. Any prediction of a future event is accompanied by an assumption of a level of confidence. Higher the confidence level, more likely that the prediction will turn out true. Statisticians predict a unique outcome only if they are 100% sure. For example you can predict tomorrow’s date with 100% confidence if you know today’s date for sure. (Some times even on such a simple prediction we go wrong!) More frequently they predict that an outcome will be within a range. The range will be smaller if the confidence level is higher.
Future events are generally predicted on the basis of the past experience.
That is where past data plays a big role. The more the data, more accurate the prediction based on the pattern formed by data. Hence the present hunger for data on consumer behaviour and preferences. Data analysts apply statistical techniques to make predictions). With a new hitherto unused product you are on a tricky ground. You can only predict customer responses by simulation technique. Finally the product may bomb.
Fear is a factor that threatens confidence. If a tight rope walker has the smallest fear that he would lose his balance, his confidence will be shattered and he will fall to the ground. Skill and balance will not come to his rescue. He may totally abandon the act. Even well prepared bright children sometimes do badly in exams due to the fear factor.
This is where the quality of overconfidence comes in. We are not talking about punters who merely trust their luck blindly without any rationale. Overconfident persons are risk takers. They walk an extra mile to get what they want. They may fail on the way but this possibility does not deter them, even if others call them foolhardy. Perseverance is another positive quality they display. Just a few of them eventually succeed while others fall by the wayside and will be forgotten. That is where chance and timing play a big part. Winners are declared heroes. Failure is looked upon with contempt and derision. They are called upstarts who failed to see reason! Failure is defined as the first step to success, but often there is no second step. All said, we are all what we are.
Most of us are risk averse and think that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A few of us are more confident and take calculated risks. A microscopic minority are dare-devils pursue their goals with tons of self belief, overconfidence, passion and determination like Thomas Alva Edison(indefatigable inventor) and Marie Curie ( double Nobel Laureate and isolator of radium, which eventually took her life). The world owes a debt of gratitude to such pioneers.
My conclusion: Overconfidence is a trait of outstanding contributors.
This is my husband’s take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Rummuser, Shackman and Conrad.
This week’s topic was accidentally suggested by Shackman during a Whatsapp exchange. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic.