I realize that the title of this blog might cause you to believe this is a post about money. It’s not.
This is about failure. Specifically what causes it. Think about it – What causes failure?
As I’ve asked people that question the typical response is incompetence. It is a lack of knowledge or skill needed to get the job done. And while that may be true on a small scale – significant failure is caused by something very different.
What caused the financial crisis? Was it incompetence? If we believe it was incompetence then we are saying that everyone on Wall Street is an idiot, which may sound funny, but it’s not true. The people working on Wall Street and those who contributed the most to the financial crisis were some of the most competent people out there. What caused the financial crisis isn’t incompetence but rather overconfidence.
Incompetence is the problem of idiots.
Overconfidence is the problem of experts and leaders: I heard Malcolm Gladwell speak recently and he talked about this concept and it really got me thinking.
When the experts and leaders on Wall Street became overconfident they began to make bad decisions, take unhealthy risk, think selfishly and shut out all constructive feedback. It was overconfidence that caused the market to collapse and in many cases it is overconfidence that causes businesses to fail, nations to falter and major crisis to occur.
So what is the remedy for this problem facing the experts and leaders of today? – Humility
– Humility keeps your ego at bay while remaining confident in your capabilities
– Humility makes you more concerned about what is right than who is right
– Humility embraces new truth rather than defending outdated position
– Humility never stops learning, growing, or listening
Overconfidence causes us to lose perspective and can be the cause of ultimate failure. The remedy is a little dose of humility. Something every expert and leader needs.