In the grand tradition of the surveys where most people say they’re smarter than most people comes this one:
When Ottawa University researchers polled nearly 400 drivers ranging from the youngest to the very old, virtually all rated themselves favorably.
Young men felt the most superior.
Middle-aged men rated themselves as better than similarly aged drivers, and far superior to younger and older motorists.
Older drivers – aged 65 plus – felt most superior when they compared themselves with motorists of the same age.
Basically, this proves what we see ourselves when we’re on the road: everyone thinks they drive just fine, and it’s the “other guy” who’s the problem.
Unfortunately, chances are you’re the “other guy.”
But wait: aren’t we supposed to have high self-confidence? Isn’t it good that we take pride in our skills? Aren’t we told to give ourselves positive affirmations every day to boost our happiness and help us tackle life’s challenges?
Yes and no.
Yes, it’s extremely good to understand and take pride in what you’re good at and what you’re capable of. But what we’re talking about isn’t that. What this research finds is that guys (and women) get to a base level of competence and then declare themselves above average. Then they declare their skills complete and stop paying attention. Don’t teach me, I know it already. See, look, that guy didn’t use his turn signal. I’m obviously better than him.
And in the case of driving, it’s very dangerous hubris.
Here’s the point
The answer to this is simple: take pride in learning new things. Admit that there’s always room to learn. And don’t judge your abilities based on the worst of us—you can learn from them too. Positive affirmations don’t work. Positive steps work every time.
Yes, you may do some things better than most other guys. But no, you don’t do everything better, nor are you ready to declare victory. Life doesn’t have a finish line. The point isn’t getting there, the point is learning and growing. In the case of a skill like driving, you have a responsibility to understand that you can and must continue to learn.
Knowing what you know is awesome. A real man also knows what he doesn’t know—and takes steps to learn.