Na Small Thing Syndrome

Tell me are you ready o. (Ridimacoolayo) Party scatter, As they start am, People yapa, They start to dancia, But as I enter, Omo the party scatter, Party scatter, The party scatter, the party scatter….. The sound from Fireboy, one of Nigeria’s top artists kept banging. Really, the party don scatter. Buzz was coming in from left, right and center and as you will expect. The party no go sweet if girls no dey…. (Another music from Falz and Patonranking)

I was already in another world when I checked my time, it was 4:00 am. It was then it occurred to me that the morning was the finals of our state soccer match. My teammates were camped in a hotel close to the stadium but I got a waiver to stay in town that night as I was having a meeting with the scouts from Germany who came to Europe to see me play and finalize my contract signing to play soccer in Europe. The deal was successful and my agent asked that we go to a nearby pub to celebrate after they all went to sleep. I managed to get out of the club and got to the stadium as early because I never had time to sleep. When the match kicked off, the team and my coach were waiting on my excellent performance and skills to win at the finals. I struggled all through the game without any excellent touch, passes, or dribbles which had always been my best way of thrilling the fans.

My coach would pull me closer and whisper into my ears just after the match, “You are such a disappointment”, as my head fell to the ground in shame. There are several lessons to learn from this story, but one we must not ignore is the implication of overconfidence that leads to a lack of preparedness. The lack of preparation stems from either ignorance or the na-small-thing syndrome.

Na-small-thing syndrome is that undertone disease that makes us feel we can effortlessly excel at a given task even without preparation simply because we have excelled at it before or have gotten accolades for being the best at it in the past. Typically, there are many cons to being an expert. Aside from raising the bar of expectation, you realize that when you have demonstrated a level of professionalism at something, people never give you the luxury of being second best at it. They don’t expect your grease to dry. But, unbeknownst to us, the accolade feeds our ego that we soon begin to feel overconfident and infallible. Have you ever felt 100% confident in your ability to complete a task, and then failed miserably?What do you think caused you to fail?

Overconfidence refers to the phenomenon that people’s confidence in their judgments and knowledge is higher than the actual accuracy of things. Overconfidence has been called the most “pervasive and potentially catastrophic” of all the cognitive biases to which human beings fall victim. It has been blamed for lawsuits, strikes, wars, and stock market bubbles and crashes. One common example of overconfidence is how we often underestimate the time a task or project will take. We’ve all been there, answering “Sure thing!” with a nod and a grin when a customer asks if we can get something done by tomorrow.

In the story, the young man was going to seal a major deal. He was a football expert and thrilled his fans with his creative dribbles and passes. His coach loved him. He was pretty good. Good enough for overconfidence to overhaul his sense of judgment. As he sat at the pub that night, he was roped in everything that he forgot about the football match he had for the morning until it was 4 am. The writer did not express any feeling of anxiety that he had not prepared for the match rather he played it cool and casually went off to the field to thrill his fans. If it was not for overconfidence, he had no business being at the pub when he could have taken the time to practice and mentally prepare for it. That night as he was whiling away time at the pub, chances are that his opponents were aggressively practicing knowing the kind of person they were up against. They probably practiced extra hard thinking that their toughest contender would bring his A-game, new skills, and extraordinary dribbles to the match, but fortunately for them.

A downside to overconfidence is that it can cause you to make more mistakes than you would if your ego was more balanced. Thinking that you’re infallible can lead to poor decisions that cost big bucks or big dreams. The singular thought of being infallible makes you throw caution to the wind without intentionality. Many times, we find ourselves being overconfident. We have the skill. People have praised us for it and we have almost started to think we can never fail at it. A high level of confidence is usually helpful for performing tasks because it can lead you to strive for difficult goals. Overconfidence, however, often makes people no longer feel the need to invest all of their effort. The fourth villain of decision-making is overconfidence. People think they know more than they do about how the future will unfold.

To succeed, you need to learn to draw the line between being confident and being overconfident. Confidence is knowing you can make it through the day without screwing up, overconfidence is thinking you can do it again tomorrow.

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