Sunday, March 06, 2016

Mind over Matter

I have been in training for Swimathon 2016 and had a good training session at Copeland Swimming Pool in Hensingham earlier today.

I was reminded during the session, as sporting activity particularly often demonstrates, of something which is true in many other walks of life - how much your ability to do something is often influenced by whether you think you can.

In general if you think you can do something, you probably can, and if you think you cannot, again, you are probably right.

There is an exception to this principle, known scientifically as the Dunning-Kruger Effect which means that some people, usually in the early stages of learning to do something, don't know enough about it to rationally assess their own ability, and vastly over-estimate their own skill or judgement.

Regrettably, the Dunning-Kruger Effect seems to be far more common in politics than in any other field of activity, where all political parties, and indeed also people active in politics who are not involved in any party, have more than their fair share of people of very strong opinions and a conviction that they are right about everything, something which in reality, sadly, even the wisest of us do not manage to be.

But against this, there are many areas where confidence is a huger ability multiplier and by the same token, if you are afraid of making a particular mistake you are that much more likely to make it.

If you think your swimming goggles might begin to hurt during a long swim, them nine times out of ten they will. If you have checked them, are confident that they are fitting properly, and that they won't cause you any discomfort, then ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they won't.

It applies to things other than sport, of course. Many years ago, my piano teacher, who was also an international concert pianist who toured with his wife playing piano duets, told me the story of a mistake which had bothered his wife when they were playing one particular piece during a tour. When it eventually came to the performance she didn't make it - but he did!

Most of those who succeed in all works of life tend to be highly confident people, and one of the most important things in dealing with most problems is belief in yourself.

If you can manage to exhibit this without becoming arrogant, you are a very special person and will probably go far!

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