Psychologists have identified what is called the “winner effect.” This phenomenon is based upon the observation that animals who have recently won a fight become more likely to win the next fight. After winning, their speed and visual acuity increases and the animal becomes more fearless.
When an animal wins a fight, their tolerance for risk increases, as does their testosterone level (true for humans also) which encourages more fights. If the winning effect continues, the animal’s confidence increases and they pick more fights. Over time its risky behavior impairs its judgment and eventually its ability to survive is in jeopardy.
The winner effect is not limited to animals. It has been documented in many areas of society including sports, business, the stock market, gambling and even chess games. (Should we add politics?) When people exhibit the winner effect it could be called “over confidence.”
Here’s the possible downside for a person who is overly confident:
- Overestimate their ability to accomplish work, or, underestimate how long it will take them to get things done.
- Think their knowledge is more accurate and superior to others.
- Assume their virtues and motives are more positive and caring than others.
- Minimize feedback or facts that stand in the way of their ideas.
When someone is overly confident, initially they may appear as a Creator in The Empowerment Dynamic (TED*)™, because they seem clear about what they want and go after it. However, when the downside comes into play, they may actually drift into the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ with a false sense of pride and superiority, coming across to others as a Persecutor. Or others might see them as their hero, Rescuing them from life’s challenges.
Over confidence can be another strategy to manage fear and anxiety. Feeling unsure or uncertain that their true self is not “good enough,” an overly confident person takes on a mask of deceit. Over confidence is the other side of the insecurity coin.
Seeing yourself as a Creator requires you to ask yourself: “What do I really want, given the truth of the situation?” You make progress on your journey from where you are toward what you want if you are truthful about where you are starting.
If you lie about your starting point, it would be like saying you want to travel from San Francisco to New York City while telling yourself: “I don’t have much time or money so I will tell myself I am starting from Chicago to make the trip shorter.” That is ridiculous, of course.
The downside of the winning effect can cause an Illusion of control and create self-deception. You behave as if you have control when in fact you don’t. Groups who are overly confident might reject the views and opinions of co-workers.
Here are a few questions to help you tell the truth about your current reality. Even in the face of “winning,” these questions can help you remain candid and tell yourself the complete truth— especially when it comes to yourself.
- What is true that I am not yet facing?
- What is missing in my current description of reality?
- Is there anything I am avoiding, resisting or minimizing?
- How might others describe the situation differently than I am describing it?
Being confident in your true Creator self allows vulnerability and openness to emerge. Telling yourself the full truth is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.