Dunning-Kruger (Ricky Weekly #78)
This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.
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On to regular programming…
A picture from my life:
I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a wedding. It was so much fun!
A thing on my mind:
Here’s a graph I found on Google that describes the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Basically, it’s a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability.
When it comes to school. I remember freshman year in college I met all these brilliant students in social settings, and for the first time felt a strong sense of confidence in my abilities.
Then sophomore year came. One day, I went to lecture with my friend Sid. We sat in front, opened our laptops to take notes, and started trying to pay attention. Then I saw Sid go on ESPN.com so I did too, and started tuning out the lecture, which I was already struggling to understand. Then the professor asked a question, Sid raised his hand and answered it correctly, all the while still staring at ESPN.com. I was like, WHAT!? We lived in the same dorm, so I started seeing that he never did much work for that class because it was so easy for him. I ended up asking him to tutor me to make sure I don’t fail that class.
Even in extracurriculars that was simply about “getting things done,” I experienced greatness. As a sophomore, I joined a student group called BASES as an officer on a small 5-person team. Our team lead was Rebeca, who graduated from MIT and was at Stanford for her PhD. She was so organized and sharp with her execution. I remember feeling like I can barely keep up with her. I spent the rest of that year observing her and my teammates to study how they got things done, and walked away with invaluable skills even though I was close to being a deadweight on that team.
Then I decided to team up with David to do a startup. David is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever come across and has an extremely high bar for excellence. Being his co-founder basically prevented me from ever over-estimating my ability, because I can very easily look to my left or right and see David operating away on another level.
Over the years though, I’ve thought about the value in that naive confidence that’s felt out of reach for me, and I’ve been learning to re-develop and harness it. I think it’s a skill to maintain that naive confidence, and probably the most valuable one in the game of business. For example, in evaluating startups, no one knows what’s going to work, so after all kinds of analysis, the only useful analysis anyone does is an analysis of how confident they think you are. Same in the execution of a startup, because you don’t know what’s going to make a difference, there’s no point trying to get something perfect. 80/20 everything, and do it with naive confidence is the best way. It’s the reason why you ship fast, break things and not feel bad about it. I don’t know how to articulate this idea well enough yet, so I’ll leave it here. I remember reading articles about how American kids are #1 in self-esteem despite ranking poorly in most academic categories compared to other countries. I think we may just have a different understanding of how the world works.
A piece of content I recommend:
Drive to Survive on Netflix
I’ve never been exposed to Formula One and now I’m a fan because of this show. My favorite part is probably how the best drivers need the best cars to win. It helps me understand even better why talent want to move to the right situations, like why NBA superstars request to be traded to better teams, and why startup talent move from one rocketship to the next. While it feels like an NBA superstar can single-handedly take a mediocre team to the playoffs or even win the championship, in Formula One it seems like you have to be driving a Mercedes or Red Bull, even if you’re the best driver ever, if you’re not in one of those cars, you’ll never reach your potential. At least that’s what it seems like to me after watching this show.
As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my essays are on my website. My primary focus (and where I focus) is on Flow Club.