When self-confidence becomes hubris

The biggest hurdle on the way to fulfilling one’s initiatives is the insecurity concerning one’s capabilities – the existing roles; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT); the services offered and the associated building blocks (Business Model Canvas); above all, one’s strategy. The elements on which we build self-confidence are irritating because we only have a vague self-image. Additionally, we develop high expectations and overstate our available assets. We overlook our weaknesses and dangers while worshipping an unrealistic perfectionism. These contradictions create disturbing self-doubt that culminates in boastfulness. The situation is reinforced by coaches and consultants who make us believe that we need to underline our offers with a polished external image and confident appearance. They forget to mention that our bottom line is built on our actual capabilities. The result is an exaggerated complacence that easily turns into hubris.

In the step-by-step discovery of our possibilities, we are oriented towards competition. In doing so, we run the risk of losing touch with reality – in the end, the bar is always higher than that of the competitor. If we switch off our honest self-assessment, then blind pride and exaggerated self-love lead to an overestimation of our abilities – from healthy self-confidence straight into hubris. The following measures prevent this drift into unhealthy self-overestimation.

  • Fulfillable deliverables
    The description of your business model, self-image, and strategy provides the elements you will win your customers. The emphasis is on describing. For example, if you do not clarify your future in words and pictures, you cannot expect your clients’ buy-in. What matters is your feasible value proposition that is tailored to the target audiences you want to attract.
    Do not create expectations that you cannot fulfill.
  • Different points of view
    When developing, take different viewpoints to evaluate your business components with various scales – e.g., from the customer’s point of view, from the financial, design, and technical perspective. By doing so, you will also foster shared understanding.
    Focus on specific groups and avoid the “jack of all trades”, as you will never be able to make everyone happy with one solution.
  • Effective resonance groups
    The review should not be conducted in an elite circle of lateral thinkers in an ivory tower, but with essential internal and external stakeholders – from different levels, areas of expertise, regions, cultures, etc. This will provide comprehensive feedback.
    Try to get as varied responses as possible since you generate more results in a diverse group than if everyone works independently.
  • Open feedback culture
    The exchange of ideas is fast and uncontrolled. This spontaneously releases forces that nip individual suggestions in the bud. It leads to reluctance to express one’s opinion freely. Feedback should be shared to clarify what is objectively meant, and feedback is exchanged value-free, promptly, and privately.
    Avoid toxic responses on feedback by establishing rules that stifle disruptive criticism and encourage the open exchange of ideas.
  • Convincing self-portrayal
    In the end, it is all about an adequate preparation of your capabilities that raise appropriate expectations in the audience – without boastful and unfulfillable pomposity. Based on the measures you have taken so far, you develop your self-image, which you, your managers and employees, as well as partners, can believe in. You present yourself in the right light and generate momentum and commitment in your field.
    Solid self-assurance creates confidence and an authentic appearance – without hubris.

Bottom line: Rattling has been part of the handicraft for centuries. It is the way to attract attention. In the past, rattling was the soundtrack of a trade – mills, machines, tools, and looms rattled. Today, the clatter of the keyboard no longer reaches customers. To draw attention to ourselves, we need a customer-oriented self-presentation, which makes us stand out from the abundance of offers. If self-confidence lacks a foundation, it quickly leads to harmful arrogance. You need deliverable services that are convincingly presented. Look at your business model, strategy, and self-image from different angles. A diverse sounding board supports the evaluation with honest feedback. With an open feedback culture, various opinions are heard and can be realized. The result is a convincing self-presentation that shows your possibilities without exaggeration. Eventually, you prevent with this approach that your self-confidence becomes hubris.