“The cardinal sin of academics is arrogance.”
I tweeted that just this week. And it resonated quite a bit on the Twitter timeline.
I wasn’t talking about myself, of course.
Except that I was!
And now I realise I’ve been living in a lie for the past year.
I’m writing this to you in hopes that you won’t have to repeat my mistakes.
And this is partially a repost from our Kaizen Cafe newsletter. So if you read that one too, some bits of the following might sound familiar…
The author David Brooks famously figured out “the human mind is an overconfidence machine.“
And oh, how right he was.
How many times have you thought “They just don’t get it?“
But what if they do? And you’re the one not getting it.
Because you fell into the trap of being overconfident.
I’ll admit it first: I thought I knew how to write short-form social media posts. And I don’t mean just to write anything, but to write so that it resonates and makes people think.
I thought the problem is with my audience or, heh, “algorithmic bias“. You know, my account must be shadow banned and all that jazz.
Until I learned the fault was in the mirror. Just two weeks ago.
I just sucked!
How do I know?
I bought a cohort about writing well on Twitter. Run by a semi-anon handle dubbed Art of Purpose.
Yes I’m spending $699 to learn faster.
I’m doing exactly what I’m always telling everyone to do: Pay money to learn faster.
It’s run by a big bunch of people who know what they’re doing.
And I’m seeing the results already — engagement, followers, all metrics on the rise.
Because of better content.
Content, that I did now know how to create earlier. Even though I did.
I was a victim of the overconfidence effect:
The overconfidence effect is a well-established bias in which a person’s subjective confidence in his or her judgments is reliably greater than the objective accuracy of those judgments, especially when confidence is relatively high. Overconfidence is one example of a miscalibration of subjective probabilities.Wikipedia
Data is the only thing that matters.
Not your false beliefs about how good you are.
How to dodge overconfidence effect:
I’m making these rules for myself just as much as I’m making them for you.
1) Analyse everything
Scientific thinking, but in your own life.
Don’t think you got it, analyse whether you got it.
Facts are the only thing that matter, but unfortunately facts vaporize when you’re in the trap of overconfidence.
Data are objectively factual.
Stick to it.
2) Find a way to get honest feedback
Pay, if you have to.
I’m loving it.
Your friends are liars. The people who look up to you are mega-liars.
They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.
“But Simo it’ll hurt!”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
It’s the good pain, the same pain that makes your muscles grow after a good workout!
3) Build your own lab
Measuring things is not enough.
You need time and a dedicated place to analyse whatever the things are you’re doing.
In the case of Twitter? I built an entire content creation and analysis pipeline for myself in Notion just for tweets: drafting, modeling, tracking how they’re doing, etc.
Because if you just wing it, you won’t learn.
Must. Analyse. Data.
Not just collect data.
Build a laboratory for yourself and make sure you also work there.
Oh, and if you’re in the Twitter game and want a copy of mine, just hit reply to this one — I’ll send it over and you can duplicate it!
Okay. This was a tough post to write.
But here we are!
Here you are!
Dedicated to get better, learn skills, put in the work.
I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than that.
See you next week!