What causes overconfidence? And is it a problem?

You’ve definitely seen a lot of people who are overconfident over things that you know are wrong and won’t lead them anywhere. What causes overconfidence? What’s the problem here?

To put it in simple words, what causes overconfidence is almost always the lack of knowledge in some matters of life. The more ignorant a person is on a matter, the more overconfident he/she might be when it comes to that matter.

But why is the lack of knowledge causing overconfidence for some people?

It’s because we usually tend to over simplify things. For example, how many of your friends have told you that they want to be president and they were 100% serious about it?

Too many I guess. And usually they aren’t joking. Once they know how hard it is to become the president and learn all about it, they’ll change their minds very quickly.

Another example would be from my game development journey. Back in the days when I knew nothing about game development, I was planning to build my first game.

In my mind, I was extremely confident that I will be making the greatest video game of all time and that my first game will be a world wide success.

Then I started getting hit by one stone after the other once I started gaining more knowledge in game development.

And as every game developer’s first game, mine was a complete trash. But I learned a lot from it and made another one, then another, then another and so on.

With each new game, I learned something new, and more importantly, I learned to set more realistic goals with each new game that I planned to make.

The overconfidence was gone when I had enough knowledge about game development, and my expectations for the new games were usually met.

The point here is that the less I knew about the subject, the more I thought I could achieve and the more overconfident I was with what I could do. But I was wrong almost every time.

Same thing applies to anything else. There are countless examples of people setting very unrealistic goals and later realizing that things are much more complicated than they think they are.

While the lack of knowledge is usually the ultimate cause of overconfidence, there are other causes too that are worth mentioning. Here are some.

Having enough resources might lead some people to overconfidence.

If you have a lot of resources, you might think that there is no way you can fail at anything.

Let’s say you have millions of dollars for example, you might be easily tricked into thinking that you now can start any business and succeed because you already got all the resources needed to deliver a perfect product/service.

But unfortunately, this is not always the case.

You can get the most talented people to work on your ideas, you can provide them with the perfect environments and you can equip them with cutting-edge technologies and the business might still fail.

Even Billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others have failed at some businesses.

As stated in this business insider article, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of amazon claims himself that not only failures will happen even though you have a multi billion dollars company, but failures MUST happen if you have a huge company.

He thinks that huge companies will have to try new things and they will have a lot of failures during the process, but they’ll end up learning a lot and use these failures in their favor.

If billionaires can still fail when trying something new, then people with less resources need to be really careful about their expectations when trying new things in general.

Only looking at the success stories and not the failure stories.

This is another reason why people feel overconfident.

We read and watch a lot about successful stories in all fields. Motivational speakers, for example, are very good at selling you the idea that there is no way you can fail if you work hard, and I have written a full article to tell you why many of them are absolutely wrong.

Usually, when you see a lot of success stories, you might think that with enough hard work, you can do whatever plan you have in mind.

The argument would usually be that if other people can make it, then I too can and there’s no way I am going to fail.

But to be honest, there are millions of ways that you can fail.

If someone only reads about the success stories out there, and not investigate the failure stories, they might be doing the biggest mistake in their lives as they will fall into the trap of overconfidence.

Let’s say you want to start a blog for example. You go to, let’s say Pinterest, and then you see all these bloggers that are making thousands of dollars a month and that they’re living the happy life.

If you immediately go and start your blog after you only read these success stories, your blog will most probably fail.

Why? Because you’ll realize that it might take years of hard work to reach the success level of some of the very famous blogs, but you weren’t ready for it.

If you have gone through the failure stories too however, then you would have learned that even though the rewards of blogging are awesome, it might still take you years to reach these rewards.

Now that you know both the rewards and the difficulties, you are much likely to succeed if you start a blog because you know what you’re stepping into.

You will most probably not be overconfident about what you will be able to achieve with the blog. Which is good, because it will help you embrace the failures better and keep going till you make it.

So the point here is that the more success stories we read, the more overconfidence we have in whatever thing we are trying to create, however, the reality is usually different.

Now that I’ve stated some causes of overconfidence, it would be nice if we assess how bad can overconfidence be for a person.

Overconfidence is a huge problem.

As mentioned above, when you’re overconfident, there is a higher risk of failure. And usually too many failures might lead people to giving up on everything and I believe you already know how hard this can be.

There is one thing that I need to point out here. Confidence is a must when you’re building something new. You have to trust your capabilities, and you need to believe that with enough resources, knowledge and dedication, you can create wonderful things.

However, when confidence skyrockets, then problems start to arise.

Elon Musk for example decided that he wants to create a rockets company and heavily invest in an electric cars company.

During many interviews, Elon claimed that he already knew that the chances of success of these companies were very low, yet he still managed to pull both companies up and transform them into a world wide success.

Why was that possible? It was possible because Elon already knew what he was stepping into. He was expecting the risks and he was ready for them. He wasn’t overconfident, yet he was ready for all the walls he’ll hit during the process of building his companies.

There were many moments where his companies Tesla and SpaceX were close to the edge of failure. Tesla was a few days close to bankruptcy at some point in it’s life and SpaceX failed in the first 3 rocket launches.

Yet Elon managed to get both companies back on their feet and the rest is history.

If there is something that we can learn from this guy, it’s that whenever you want to start a new path in your life. First, make sure you know what you’re stepping into, and then, go all the way and never give up until you make it.

My final take away here is that great things can be done only when a person knows all the risks yet he/she determines that they need to keep going no matter the odds.

Leave your thoughts down below if you have anything to say. I’d love to hear from you.