Do you know what smart chess players and stupid criminals have in common?
This is an interesting question posed by the book “The Invisible Gorilla” on the issue of confidence, particularly the illusion of confidence and the effect it has on others.
The take away lesson here is that :-
i) Never fully trust the master who appears confident and talks confidently. He may give the appearance of knowing what he is talking about but it could be an illusion . To test him you should play the why boy game that is discussed in the chapter on hedge funds manager. Its too easy to mistake confidence for competence.
ii) Don’t fall for appearances. Some masters put on a nice Chinese garment and give the appearance of someone who is confident and therefore by assumption has the skills. Be wary of treating a well dressed master like a priest with divine insight. The master may actually know a lot less than he claims to know.
iii) Look out for the overconfident master. Some masters talk as if they know everything under the sun and insist that they are the only ones who know it even when presented with evidence to the contrary. Only a master who is confident in what he knows and does not know would dare to say “I don’t know” when asked about things outside their area of expertise.
There is a lot of other interesting information in this book that is relevant to the learning of Tai Chi. For example why should you avoid learning from a group of friends? The issues written here will help you to answer such question so that if you must learn from friends at least you jump in with your eyes wide open and be able to tell when you are learning from someone who is confident rather than someone who is a real expert.