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on 29 January 2016
The basic premise of this book (much repeated) that competence is better than confidence is a good one. However, that's where the insight ends as the author shows no real understanding of what he wants to say in the context of issues such as depression or low self esteem. Although that doesn't stop him sounding authoritative. Suggesting that others' opinions of you are what you should base the opinion you have of yourself on could put someone with social anxiety back a long way and the idea that low self esteem is the path to competence is really very limited. The author apparently works for a company that provides personality profiling to corporations to help them identify employees with entrepreneurial talent and in the context of employers picking employees it probably does work to steer clear of the over confident ones. However, as a book with any kind of 360 view of the truth about confidence this falls very far short of the title.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 October 2013
In this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic observes, "The main difference between people who lack confidence and those who don't is that the former are unable (or unwilling) to distort reality in their favor. That's right, the successful distortion of reality is the chief underlying reason so many people don't experience low confidence when they should. Whereas pessimism leads to realism, optimism promotes the fabrication of alternative realities -- lying, not to others, but to themselves."

In this context, I am reminded of Bud Tribble's comments about Steve Jobs, quoted by Walter Isaacson in his biography of the insanely great innovator: "Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules." According to Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, "His reality distortion is when he has an illogical vision of the future, such as telling me that I could design the BREAKOUT game in just a few days. You realize that it can't be true, but he somehow makes it true." Debi Coleman recalls, "He reminded me of Rasputin. He laser-beamed in on you and didn't blink. It didn't matter if he was serving purple Kool-Aid. You drank it." Isaacson adds, "At the root of the reality distortion field was Jobs's belief that the rules didn't apply to him." In this and in countless other respects, Steve Jobs was indeed one-of-a-kind.

For most of us, Chamorro-Premuzic asserts -- and I agree -- that we should not aspire to have high confidence, but to have high competence. If we focus on achievement, it will increase self-confidence naturally diminishing low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt. Presumably Chamorro-Premuzic agrees with Henry Ford about the importance of attitude: ""Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right." Presumably, Ford would agree with him about the importance of competence. Let's add Thomas Edison to the discussion. He observed, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Confidence based on competence, on achievement, is no delusion. It has been earned through productive effort. In an important sense, competence speaks for itself...especially to those who gain it.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Chamorro-Premuzic's coverage.

o Most Confident People Are Deluded, and, Ignorance Ain't Bliss (Pages 12-15 and 15-19)
o The Confidence -- Competence Grid (28-34)
o You Can Benefit from Insecurities (35-40)
o Successful People Are Rarely Themselves (53-56)
o If Character Is Destiny, Reputation Is Fate (64-70)
o Everyone's A Psychologist (73-77)
o Three Things That Top Performers Do Better (102-112)
o How to Master Interpersonal Relations (117-120)
o The Toxicity of High Social Confidence (124-126)
o The Adaptive Side of Lower Social Conscience (126-132)
o Influencing Others (141-147)
o The Unhealthy Side of High Confidence (183-197)
o All You Need Is a Bit of Willpower & Low Confidence (207-210)
o Success Is the Best Medicine for Your Insecurities (211-214)
o A More Competent, Less Confident World (217-220)

Chamorro-Premuzic urges his readers to aspire not to have high confidence, but to have high competence. He show them "how to make that happen" in this book. I commend him on his skillful use of reader-friendly devices as he explains why people should aspire not to have high confidence, but to have high competence. They include relevant and thought-provoking quotations throughout the narrative; bullet point and numeric checklists of key points, dates, sequence steps, etc.; strategic placement of subheads (e.g. "Self-Knowledge Matters More Than Self-Belief" on Page 84 and "Embracing Low Confidence" on Page 211; and a "Using It" section at the conclusion of Chapters 1-7 to facilitate effective application of relevant information, insights, and counsel.

In his final paragraph, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic observes cites and then responds to an observation: "According to Alfred Adler, 'To be human is to feel inferior.' Perhaps, but competence gains relieve our natural feelings of inferiority, at least temporarily. Indeed, inferiority [begin italics] motivates [end italics] us to try to achieve things. The more weaknesses you perceive in yourself, the more you will be motivated to improve, and the harder [and smarter] you will work. Low confidence is the result of failure but the source of success."
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 July 2015
Unfortunately, this book struck me more as a text book rather than something written for the person on the street. The author describes lots of studies but I felt that he did so in a fairly abstract fashion and, while I did understand the points that he was getting at, I couldn't figure out how it would help me. How does it help me when I'm sat in a meeting with worries in my head and my heart is pounding and I'm trying to feel more confident? I want to worry less. I want to put myself forward rather than avoiding situations (and unfortunately this book doesn't help people like me).

There are many contradictions in the book. A key argument he makes is that competence matters more than confidence. Later however, he argues that most managers would prefer to promote a fun but mediocre employee over a boring but more skilled employee. So in that later comment, he seems to be saying that most managers would prefer someone who is confident and who can appear "fun".

He says again and again that confidence does NOT matter. Then he goes and says "It is useful to fake confidence because it will make you seem more competent to others." In other words, he says that confidence DOES matter! Two pages later, he changes his mind again and says that "modesty is certainly something you can fake a little to help people perceive you as competent." So he's arguing that you should fake BOTH confidence AND modesty. Isn't that a massive contradiction??

Later, he tells us that we should "Be strategic about the information you choose to convey to others." A paragraph later, he warns to do the opposite: "try not to focus too much on how best to present yourself to others." So which is it? Should I be strategic or not focus on how I present myself?

At one point, he argues that "it is virtually impossible to deliberately boost your social confidence." But that's simply not true! The whole point of cognitive behavior therapy is to boost social confidence. It's like he's giving a kick in the teeth to anyone who has ever had CBT with the aim of becoming socially more confident.

In summary, I found the book full of contradictions and quite frustrating. The main things I don't like about the book:
1) He argues one thing but then changes his mind to argue the opposite.
2) He sometimes argues a certain point of view but only in an academic fashion. He then gives little to no advice on how to achieve what he says is important. This book is NOT practical.
3) He keeps telling us that we don't need confidence and I found it a smug point of view. I DO want to feel less nervous. I DO want to feel less tense in meetings when I know I'm expected to speak up. So this book fails in that it doesn't give me practical advice on how to feel less anxious.

I've read far, far better books on confidence.
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on 1 June 2016
Has really stayed with me this book. The difference between confidence and competence has never been clearer.
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on 9 June 2015
The author is a known personality profiler and at the same time an academic and a businessman. He analyses competence versus confidence and he supports the concept that the confidence movement and the related "can do it" attitude can play a negative role in the outcome of people's efforts, at work or personal life. The idea is that overconfidence misleads people regarding their real abilities, makes them set unrealistic objectives and influences them against preparation and real work effort.
The book is at the same wave length as "Quiet" by Susan Cain but there is a lot more scientific background in it. Dr. Chamorro's claims are supported by scientific research at a greater extent than in Mrs Cain's book.
Since every book speaks to the individual, I think that books like these, encourage people that are "true and real" that ther attitude could be the most effective one and that there is success for the humble.
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on 30 December 2013
I found this book extremely useful in debunking many of the myths around 'confidence' being the sole (or primary) driver of success. Dr Chamorro-Premuzic speaks to anyone who has been told that their lack of confidence is a negative attribute; he sets out a valuable insight as to why we should strive primarily for competence (rather than confidence)and provides some practical tools as to how we might achieve this. I found his writing very accessbile and entertaining (for example, his use of references to current, well-known personalities) and I really felt as if he was on the reader's side throughout. In many ways, this is the book that I've been waiting to read for a long time, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in this area.
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on 31 August 2015
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on 4 July 2015
Great book. It offers interesting insights into the connection between competence and confidence, as well as providing guidance on how to use these insights to improve one's career, social skills, relationships, and health. Critically, the ideas are substantiated by abundant psychology research. This book therefore represents a significant step forward for psychology-based personal development, which is an area that I think deserves more attention from psychologists.
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on 8 December 2013
Unlike many authors who write on confidence, this author argues that confidence is not always a good thing. That is an original and interesting argument.

The book covers plenty of examples of people who have high confidence (and perhaps shouldn't have done) as well as how actually being competent is the best route to confidence.

Unfortunately, I simply found the book a bit stiff and hard work. I felt that I *should* read the book because I might learn something from it rather than *wanting* to read it because I enjoyed it. Other readers may disagree, but my opinion was that more editing or the help of a ghost writer may have helped the book to be a more entertaining read.
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on 5 January 2014
It explains the insecurities of successful people and how their competence grows form their lack of confidence. Great read for New Year.
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