Confidence Is Counterintuitive

You may have noticed that the For Our Kids blog posts are listed under two categories, confidence and counterintuitive thinking.

While the confidence category is obvious, the counterintuitive thinking category isn’t. So let’s examine the characteristics of confidence to see if they are really counterintuitive.


I define counterintuitive as being the opposite of what our human nature suggests, which is another way of saying what the dictionary says, “contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but nevertheless true).”


Let’s examine how confidence is counterintuitive.

We’d expect someone who is confident to have ready answers to our questions. The reality is that confident people readily admit to not having answers. Instead, they’ll think through the question with you and, together, you’ll find a solution. Or they’ll research the issue and get back to you when they’ve found an answer. There’s no pretense of being all-knowing from confident people.

Given the recognition confident people get, we might expect them to be glory hounds. Not true. More often than not, they are only interested in getting the result. They don’t care who gets the credit. In his autobiography, My American Journey, Colin Powell says that it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. That’s the attitude confident people possess.

Confident people may not appear to be vulnerable, yet they are the first to admit that there are many things they don’t know, many things that are beyond their natural talents. Yet they know that their ability to learn and adapt, to find the resources they need to fill the gaps in their skill set, will help them achieve whatever they desire. Their objective evaluation of their capabilities enables them to enjoy greater success because they seek assistance instead of hiding their vulnerabilities.

We might think that confident people feel superior. Truly confident people, while they take pride in their abilities, do not feel superior to anyone. They know with absolute certainty that they can learn from everyone.

Humility is not something we would naturally attribute to confident people. Indeed, we’d think them more inclined to cross the line from confidence to arrogance, than to be humble. Yet each of the characteristics we’ve just discussed indicate that humility is a characteristic confident people possess in abundance.

We might expect the success that confident people enjoy to harden them to others’ plight. They earned their success so why wouldn’t they expect others to do the same? The reality is that confident people are fully aware that they did not accomplish anything on their own. They had help. That’s why they readily share what they know to help others enjoy what they desire.

These are a few of the characteristics of confident people that are counterintuitive…contrary to what we’d naturally expect. So what does this have to do with you?

For you

My purpose in writing this blog post is to get you to question whether what you “know” is really accurate. For it’s in our natural tendencies that we find some of the most limiting perspectives on life. I don’t want you to fall victim to intuition when it so often fails us.

I’m not suggesting that intuition is bad or wrong all the time. I am suggesting that it’s also not always right. The fight or flight response has helped humans flourish, yet dog experts tell us that when an unfamiliar dog comes running at you barking and snarling, the best thing to do is to keep walking at the same pace and ignore the dog. Once it realizes that you’re not a threat, it’ll cease it’s threatening behaviors.

Until you examine the alternative to your intuition, you’re making decisions without complete information. I encourage you to develop the habit of questioning your initial reaction.

For our kids

If you live this message, especially if you voice your thought process in front of your kids, they’ll develop the habit of questioning their initial impressions which will help them see that counterintuitive solutions are often better than their intuitive counterparts.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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