Don’t Hustle Yourself: The Dunning-Kruger Effect
This is a topic which has always fascinated me: The Dunning-Kruger Effect. The idea that my perception of what I know is nonlinear with respect to what I actually know.
Quoting from the Wikipedia article, we are given the definition:
This pattern of over-estimating competence was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, practicing medicine, operating a motor vehicle, and playing games such as chess or tennis. Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
- Fail to recognize their own lack of skill
- Fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy
- Fail to accurately gauge skill in others recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill
I have seen this bias give way to all sorts of self-defeating traits in my personal and professional life. In graduate school, we used to joke about how incoming graduate students typically believed themselves to have unrealistic skills.
One related effect of particularly nasty relevance is the curse of knowledge. I fall prey to this one pretty frequently. I forget that I (essentially) have very extensive training in pattern recognition and attention to detail from my time in science, so I unknowingly (and unfairly) expect others to have the same qualities.
These can be particularly dangerous to an entrepreneur if they start to hustle themselves, AKA buying into their own hype. If you think you’re the next meta human (read Elon Musk) in your first year of business, you may want to reconsider that position.
Thinking back on the last year of business here at Ships-A-Lot, I thought I was great at all sorts of things at the beginning of 2016. I can now say with certainty that I am marginally better at those things!
Don’t buy into your own hype! Instead, keep learning!