Miles the Pug weighs 26 pounds and stands about 1 foot tall. Consistently, he becomes aggressive when he encounters big dogs. He will bark and lunge at them before they even move as much as an inch toward him. In fact, if the dog is bigger than him, you can count on Miles doing his best to antagonize the dog until the other dog gets aggressive. After the event has culminated, he swaggers away with confidence as the other agitated dog continues to go ballistic.
He never shows this behavior with smaller dogs. In fact, even when the small dog attempts to play with him, he shows little interest and just walks away. Frankly, it’s just not worth his time.
Miles is a prime example of someone displaying a positive illusion about self.
A positive illusion is an unrealistic attitude that people (or in this case, Pugs) hold toward themselves. Studies consistently show that people often demonstrate self-deception and self-enhancement when it comes to their skills and talents in life. They see themselves in a much more positive light than is realistically possible.
It certainly has been working well for Miles thus far. I really don’t foresee any glaring problems except for the one day when he runs out of luck and he meets a huge, angry dog that doesn’t buy into his positive illusion.
You are probably thinking that this problem can work to someone’s benefit. I’m sure you’ve read the plethora of articles and inspirational messages on thinking positively. Thinking optimistically can lead to successful outcomes, right? If you believe that you are capable of big things, then you will be able to accomplish big things in your career and personal life.
Well, the answer is yes and no.
Yes, thinking positively, trudging forward and making it through the storm CAN lead to successful outcomes and achievement of your goals. However, if you are suffering from some positive illusions, you’re going to have difficulty seeing how you might benefit from making some CHANGES in life. You are not going to be able to comprehend WHY you should make a CHANGE when you think things are just fine.
In other words, if you hold an inflated sense of self, how is anyone going to convince you that CHANGING a, b or c might move you forward in life?
I want to make sure that you understand that I’m not referring to people that are arrogant, overconfident or narcissistic. I’m referring to someone just like YOU.
ALL of us exhibit this type of behavior now and then, in our careers. Why we do this is understandable— we want to soothe our egos and not feel bad. What would you say if I told you that in a research study, only 2% of high school seniors believed their leadership skills were below average?
I feel confident in saying that there isn’t a person that exists in the workplace that doesn’t have some positive illusions blocking their path to success.
Having positive illusions poses an enormous problem with regard to change. Before you can change, before you can move in a new direction, you need to be able to make an honest self-assessment. Without that ability to honestly self-assess, it’s impossible to move forward.
Positive Illusions play a role in the success or failure of entrepreneurs, leaders of industry and every position that exists in the workplace. Being able to let down your guard and see yourself honestly, flaws and all, is the first step to finding success in life.
Yes, it takes courage to drop the positive illusions, and see things honestly. But I’m positive that you are more than capable.