The Hair Club for Men has been around a while, and I suspect some have escaped and joined the "Unaware Club for Men."
As a young musician, I thought I was amazing and once took a group to a "battle of the bands" type jazz event where "we rocked the place" from our point of view. We never knew why we didn't win. We were clearly the best in our minds. Young, confident, brilliant, and totally, completely out to lunch.
We didn't understand anything about jazz structure (didn't even know it existed) and simply did what we felt like at the moment. Looking back, it's easy to see how our blissful ignorance was the root of our confidence. Some guys never grow out of that stage.
At the clubs, there are lots of guys like I was as a younger musician. When moves fail, they assume that something is wrong with their partners, and wonder, why don't the women follow well at this club?
On the crowded dance floor they dance big and ignore the fact that their partner is getting hit or is very uncomfortable with their choices. They run their partners into those around them, step on toes and act like nothing happened (or often just don't notice.) If they see something go wrong, they assume it's either their partner's or the other guy's fault.
Some of us guys are simply clueless, and the psychologists are now telling us things that are obvious if you've danced a while (or are female).
Dr. David Dunning of Cornell University said that the "incompetent are often supremely confident of their abilities. They are blissfully ignorant, because the skills required for competent assessment are also the ones they are missing."
"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,'' wrote Justin Kruger, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois who often works with Dr. Dunning.
"This deficiency in 'self-monitoring skills,' the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy."
On the dance floor, that translates into guys not knowing they are totally off time with the music, "leading" moves which are unclear to their partners, or doing things which confuse or even hurt their partners. Many don't realize a set of more advanced follows actually avoid them.
Studies also show that highly skilled people are often less confident in their abilities. They often know how little they know, even if they know more than most around them. (See "Related Articles" below for additional details.)
The unaware miss the fact that their fundamentals are weak, and they look for "new, more complex" materials, even though they could dramatically improve by simply refining their basics. Since they believe those skills are "mastered", they don't seek out the right assistance or ignore classes that would actually be a win for them.
The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, suggests a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,'' wrote Kruger.
The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "he who knows best knows how little he knows.''
The studies do conclude it may not be the guy's fault. Sort of like the "pigs don't know pigs stink" concept.
There is nothing wrong with acting confident, or being proud of the skills you've worked hard to refine. The issue is keeping the appropriate balance between feeling good about your progress, while being aware of your weaknesses and finding ways to improve.
There is a set of extremely confident guys who are simply unaware they are missing the boat.
I'm thinking maybe there is some hope, because if a guy reads this article, maybe he'll consider he has some room for improvement. Most who don't get it will assume it only applies the other guy, but it's possible some self reflection may make a difference.
Most of us should find a few people we trust, and ask them for some honest feedback. In my experience, unless someone is being paid as your instructor they're unlikely to be brutally honest with you. Don't expect your significant other or dance friends to provide feedback about your weaknesses. They want to remain in your good graces and many people shoot the messenger if they don't like what they hear. Even if that isn't you, they may not know how you might react and will have a tendency to sugar coat issues which are glaringly obvious to others.
I'm not holding my breath that this article will help those who need it the most, but I'm hoping awareness may get some people thinking.
If someone forwarded/recommended this article to you it's for one of a few reasons:
- They thought the subject and writing were totally, completely brilliant, and they wanted to share that with you. (Least likely choice.)
- They know you have a few friends who think they're amazing, when they are missing the boat.
- You have a few areas where you are blind, just like the rest of us.
Let me know your thoughts!
If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
Wikipedia article on the "Dunning-Kruger" effect.
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