Honesty is the best policy, they say. What’s even better is being brutally honest. As humans, we have a tendency to think of ourselves to be better than we actually are. If you take a poll with a large sample size to judge a skill they have, the majority of them will say that they are better than average. Whether they say that because they actually are or because they think they are are two different things. This is called the overconfidence bias.
Why do I say to be brutally honest? If you distort reality, your view of yourself could be higher than it actually is. During your journey it could seem like you’re doing just fine but at the weigh-in or reviewing of your goals, you would come up short. That’s time that could be spent doing more during your goal chasing years that is now gone forever. The key is to be in-line with reality so that overconfidence doesn’t become an achilles heel.
First, I want to clarify brutal honesty. Brutal honesty does not mean cruel or malicious honesty. It means that you state the truth without being condescending with yourself or others. Being condescending means that you’re adding feeling of superiority or un-confidence to the honesty. That isn’t healthy or beneficial.
Being Brutally Honest Helps You
I have a lot of overconfidence bias, myself. I think that I’m better than I actually am at a lot of things, even if I am just starting out. For example, I thought I could be a guru investor. Turns out, I wasn’t. I thought I would be able to work for any company I wanted to after college. I didn’t. There were and are so many instances where I felt overconfident. When I failed, it hit me harder than if I was brutally honest with myself. Whether it’s overconfidence that does the trick or over-optimism, I knew that looking at the world in real terms was better than looking at it in fake terms.
With all of those failures, I learned something, brushed it off, and moved forward. But after being knocked down and have the impact feel harder than it actually is, I wanted to change. When I thought about it, the root cause of the overconfidence bias, for me, was my feelings. I felt that I could do better than the average with no experience. I felt that I was invincible with the credentials of a college education and multiple internships under my belt. However, this is the wrong way of thinking. I had to let go of my pride and feelings of superiority.
I started leaving my feelings of pride out of decisions that I made. Now, I have expectations when I put myself up for success or failure of what I wanted to achieve, but I don’t stay hopeful. Reality began to sink in more and I was able to achieve more as a result because I wasn’t disconnected with the facts. It allows me to put in the hours without any distractions.
Advantages to Being Brutally Honest
Being disconnected to the facts and the real world can’t be good over the long term. When one makes a mistake but thinks that it was a good result when it was mediocre has inherent problems in an of itself. For example, spending $500 a week going out and saying “I thought it would come out to be $1000, I did great!” If that snowballs into more weeks, what’s left is some time to work its magic to lead to the inevitable trouble.
Some of the advantages to being a brutally honest person include:
People are going to start trusting your advice and words. If you give a compliment or a critique, they know that you don’t have a second motive in mind. The compliment will come across as genuine and not flattering and critique will come across as feedback, not criticism. Being in line with reality will give you credibility and people won’t question your words as much.
Actually Achieve Goals
You will start achieving goals that you set out for yourself. I thought I would make millions from trading stocks in just 5 years. When I first started out investing, I lost a lot of money. It’s easy to say that I did not achieve my goal of making millions in just 5 years. Now, I learned from my mistakes and I take measures to ensure that I’m being brutally honest with myself, not just with investing but other goals as well.
I frequently check my goals to give myself a reality check into making progress. If I’m not progressing, I tell myself bluntly “I’m not achieving my goals and it’s because of me” and look for the why. Once I figure out the why, I change and adjust my behavior so that I can make progress.
When you start thinking that you are the best at what you do when just starting out, the fact that there’s someone out there better than you might hit you harder than when you didn’t think that way. It can lead to you giving up or becoming resentful of that person. Your confidence might be shaken also because you’ve put this immense high standard for yourself. That isn’t good.
How to Become Brutally Honest
Look at what others are doing and compare yourself to them. Compare in an objective and responsible manner. Don’t compare yourself to the point where it will get you down that you’re not in their same level. Compare to let it act as a motivator. Let go of pride. Compare objectively and responsibly (don’t compare to the point where it will get you down), use it as a motivator, Most of the time, we look for ways to blame the external environment, usually not internal. That’s when perception can be different from what it actually is.
Let go of your pride. Pride is the enemy of success. I used to see myself as this person who’s better than everybody. I had 2 majors, 3 minors, and a 40k bank account all at the age of 21, for crying out loud! However, when I hear stories of children making a six figure salary, it brings me back to earth. I am not better than someone, I got rid of the feeling of superiority I had over another person. There are so many people who’ve achieved more by my age than I could ever imagine.
Your bank account could become a lot better if you are brutally honest with yourself and therefore look for ways to change your behavior to achieve your goals. It allows you to take a good hard look at yourself and look for ways to improve. Distorting reality isn’t good to make yourself be better financially.
I wanted to become a millionaire by the time I turn 31.5. I don’t think I’ll even make an average of 100k a year for the next 10 years. Becoming a millionaire in 10 years is not attainable if I can’t even gross an income of a million. I changed this goal to be achieved at a later time in my life.
Readers, do you agree with being brutally honest? Do you have an over-confidence or over-optimism bias? Please share in the comments below!
My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!
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