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Three common delusions that confound our decision-making

Michael Mauboussin, Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition (Harvard Bus. Press 2009) at 4-6, describes three particular delusions which stymie our efforts to reach good conclusions. We over-rate our own abilities, prospects, and influence, which makes us more difficult to reach objective decisions.

One delusion is the illusion of superiority whereby people have an unrealistically positive view of themselves. Sadly, the least capable often have the largest gaps between what they think they can do and what they are actually able to achieve. General counsel prick this illusion in almost every performance review they give.

A second is the illusion of optimism. “Most people see their future is brighter than that of others.” How many litigators in law firms foresee a thumping defeat? How many journeymen JDs admire themselves as up-and-coming CLOs?

Finally, there is the illusion of control. Many people falsely think that they can influence what happens around them even in complicated situations. Even the most powerful lawyer is but a cog in a massive wheel.

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