Some people say that we humans tend to overestimate our abilities and others say that we underestimate them.
Which one is true?
The answer is, both.
We tend to overestimate our abilities in the short term and underestimate our abilities in the long term.
Is Starting Really Half The Battle?
Lots of people parrot the mainstream mantra “starting is half the battle” but this is simply not true.
If starting was half the battle, new year’s resolutions would work at least %50 of the time. But they don’t.
What really happens is that people overestimate how much they can achieve in the short run. They start by overestimating their short-term abilities, they get frustrated when the reality doesn’t match the real-world feedback and they quit prematurely.
What about people who don’t start at all?
When their short-term failures pile up, they quit trying altogether.
Obviously, starting is a necessary part of achievement but it’s not nearly effective as people want to believe. Starting is easy. Persevering despite the initial frustration is not. The initial frustration bruises the ego and the person who eagerly started pursuing a goal quits early in an attempt to prevent further damages to his ego.
This is one of the reasons why children are better learners than adults. Children are not self-conscious. Their egos aren’t bruised by short-term failures so they keep going in spite of the initial failures and they finally succeed.
Don’t Quit Easily
Whatever your goals are, be aware that you are likely to get frustrated in the short term. Don’t give up easily in the face of initial failures. Always keep in mind that you will get better with repeated effort. Repetition is an inseparable component of success.
With consistent effort, the circumstances and your perspective will change over time.
Seemingly impossible goals will start to look attainable as you progress. Keep your eyes focused on your goals. Record your progress to be able to look back in time and see how far you have come.
Don’t Tell People About Your Goals
If you underestimate your long-term abilities, you can be sure that other people will underestimate them too.
This is one of the many reasons why you should avoid telling your long-term goals to other people. They will try to talk you out of it.
For example, when you tell people that you will start a business, people will rush to tell you that 90% of the new businesses fail in 5 years. They will not tell you that people who are not better than you started businesses and got rich. Encouragement is good but it’s an extremely scarce resource. Don’t bet on it.
The Real Value of Persistence
Ask any successful person and they will say that persistence is the secret to their success. It’s true but incomplete.
Persistence requires belief. If you don’t believe in your abilities, you will not persist and naturally, you will not succeed.
You should understand that your long-term abilities are greater than you believe them to be. Human history is filled to the brim with humans who achieved the impossible. Many of these people didn’t have better abilities than you. Many of them were deemed crazy at the beginning for what they want to achieve but they went on and succeeded anyway.
A belief in your long-term abilities is not delusional. There’s scientific evidence to support this.
A study published by Carnegie Mellon University found that people initially overestimate then later underestimate their abilities.
Another study found that overconfidence is advantageous because it serves to increase ambition, morale, resolve, persistence or the credibility of bluffing, generating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which exaggerated confidence actually increases the probability of success.
What they call overconfidence is actually that our long-term abilities are greater than we believe them to be.
As humans, we tend to overestimate our abilities in the short run and underestimate them in the long run.
Doing what average people do is a surefire way to be an average man.
If you want to be an extraordinarily successful person, you should do the opposite of what average people do.
Underestimate your abilities in the short run and you will not quit in the face of temporary failure.
Overestimate your abilities in the long run and you will set bigger goals for yourself.
You will succeed in the long run.
That’s how winning is done.