Smart Confidence or American Idol Effect?

Is it smart confidence or is it the “American Idol Effect.”

Self-delusion is what we have seen for 10 years at the beginning of each season of American Idol. Somebody dreams of a singing career, but absolutely cannot carry a tune. Somebody dreams of a singing career, has a family member who believes that their child is the next Carrie Underwood or the next Scotty McCreery, but they just don’t have the voice or the charisma to make it.

“The American Idol Effect” was named by James C. Kaufman and Michelle Evans in a recent article in Psychology Today. It describes in detail the self-delusion phenomenon.

These are the more extreme examples of self-delusion. Often, what really happens is that the person with a dream really doesn’t know if they are “good enough” to make it or not. They fall on that continuum somewhere between smart confidence and self-delusion.

Smart confidence is the term I use to recognize confidence that is based in reality, based on objective performance and validated by the appropriate jury. This validation may be the boss, the marketplace or your coach.

There is a relationship between a person’s performance and the evaluation. Believing in yourself can make you try harder and polish your act or your novel to overcome rejection. It can be a fine line to balance between your belief in yourself and the feedback you get from the jury.

Some well known, if not famous, “failures” endured a tremendous amount of rejection before becoming famous and successful. Can you guess who these self-deluded successes were?

1. This best selling novelist’s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses.

2. He was fired by the editor of a newspaper for lacking in creative ideas.

3. This baseball legend struck out 1,330 times, but hit 714 home runs.

4. This household name dropped out of high school and applied to attend film school three times, but was unsuccessful due to his C grade average.

5. He had a nervous breakdown and failed in 8 elections.

Which category do you fall into? How do you discover the answer?

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out if you have smart confidence or you are self-deluded. Any list of renowned failures, who eventually succeeded, also overlooks all the people who kept on trying in spite of many failures and still failed.

Only you can determine if you have smart confidence or you are material for the “American Idol Effect,” but it may help to find a trusted mentor to guide you.

Answers: 1. John Grisham, 2. Walt Disney, 3. Babe Ruth, 4. Steven Spielberg, 5. Abraham Lincoln.


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Lynn Kennedy Baxter, BSN, MA
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© 2017 Lynn Kennedy Baxter

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Lynn Kennedy Baxter, RN, MA
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy
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