Only Fools are confident!


I was asked before I took up my current assignment as the CEO of a company whether I was “confident about the plans I was putting forward” to the senior leadership and management of the company. I don’t know what came over me; I just hissed that “only fools are confident”. I had total disdain for the question as well as the person who asked it. Not because he asked it but because of who was on the leadership team. By asking me the question, he was absolving himself off the accountability and making me the sole owner of my plan.

Recently, I re-visited that question in my head after about 7 months of being in the assignment. I was still working with the core of the plan where I started but its edges had changed shape because of various factors. It occurred to me that my confidence was not owed to the plan but to the alacrity with which I brought about alternatives. But the questioner still did not fit into my picture, though he remained in the organization. And I was dealing with a lot of legacy that this person has been party to, that were derailing my plans. Is this why people question others about the confidence in their plans – because they cannot transform and / or change?

I rolled my memory back over the years and realized that people don’t like a committed person. Yes, over the years I was always committed to whatever I did. And I came off as this Confident, Brash, Arrogant person; depending upon the perspective of who was looking at it and what their cultural moorings were. People in Customer Organizations expected me to say it the way they wanted and my bosses always wanted me to dumb down with them and my family always wanted stability. And I never could manage that without losing my identity. Is being committed to a cause a road block to achieving success as opposed to being perceived successful?

I have blogged in the past about the difference between results and outcomes. I realized that I was always focused on outcomes where results were a part of the outcomes. I guess that makes me such a misfit in the society that is constantly thinking selfishly towards putting results ahead of outcome; where ME matters more than WE. It is not an accident is it, that the letter is just twisted upside down to mark a paradigm shift in perspectives?

I keep evangelizing on Growth and therefore Innovation at an Individual and Societal level while most people keep pulling me back to the terms of reality or Competition as they see it; beat it before someone beats you down. I have seen several highs and lows in my life and I know that I can always pull myself together and rise again, no matter how many times I go down. Perhaps, that is my confidence that allows me to say and do the things I Value, Believe and Assume are the most important in life? Is being prepared for the consequences of one’s own action such a bad idea?

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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6 Responses to Only Fools are confident!

  1. raja mankar says:

    Sorry I do not agree. the attitude to blame the society is wrong. one is always right and others are always wrong, this seems to be kind of attitude you are into. ask anyone involved in the accident and he would say the other guy was at fault. it is good that you have tremendous ability to rise again no matter how many times you go down. I have witnessed that. but instead of pampering yourself, thank god for giving you this ability. you are misfit in the society because despite the ability you are not living for the society. you have tremendous ability and intelligence but you used it only to showcase the world. use your ability and intelligence for the betterment of the society, do something for them and then see how you fit into the society. Good luck.

    • Subbu Iyer says:

      Thank you Mr. Mankar. I willwork towards making myself more useful to the society at large. It is always good to get such reinforcement of the idea and it only helps one to better oneself as a person. Thank You. Having said that, this edition of my blog you refer to is a reflective one…it doesn’t blame anyone. It tries to seek answers for the common good.

  2. guru says:

    Dear Subbu,
    Most of this blog has been reflective as far as I am concerned.

    Fools are confident and its good to be a fool!

    In my opinion and as Socrates says “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”.The fact of the matter is no one really knows anything but people claim differently or rather have to claim differently due to societal/corporate compulsions. its useless to fear for things which cant avoid as we are always doing things for the first time.

    Folks like this disdainful colleague of yours and a game show host are no different . Naysayers’ intent will be to introduce a fear factor in you and become or try to become the focus of ,your mind’s ,attention.

    You could consider being yourself at all times as what people think about you is none of your business. You don’t need to be judgmental about yourself or for that matter someone else. By judgmental ,I mean calling something/someone or even yourself- right or wrong ! There is nothing which is right or wrong,its just perspective. You need to beat your competition to survive and that act of winning doesn’t make you right (or wrong) .The guy who didn’t win (i did not say lose) will consider your winning as a wrong thing.

    Bhagwad gita says do your dharma and dont worry about the results( fact of the matter is that despite being the CEO ,the company’s destiny is not actually in your hands.This is not to offend but as you have seen ups and downs and will have encountered situations when you would not have won despite being more suited to win or as you mentioned ,Dumbed down several times. (one more thing – there is no up or down ,its perspective again) Please remember that when you are saying yes to others,make sure you are not saying no to yourself.

    Evangelizing on growth is the only right thing to do and one should keep doing it .

    Sincere apologies if this response seems to sermonize – I am actually writing it to myself….

    I liked YOUR STORY its like MY STORY and ….probably like everyone else’s .

  3. Sujit Sahu says:

    Subbu,
    if a plan is a “direction of the solution” to a problem the way one understands it (usually the leader’s assessment of problem statement), then i would imagine being confident of one’s plan is being only confident of a good beginning, not knowing how the world and the variables will unfold. And i would imagine confidence would imply the confidence to deal with variables in the environment as one does the journey for promised land. That’s my interpretation of the statement. Why would it be then foolish to be confident ?

  4. Ashokkumar says:

    I like this post and the comments. As mentioned in one of the comment, I can relate myself.

    “Is this why people question others about the confidence in their plans – because they cannot transform and / or change?”

    Sometimes I ask this to a person on whom I have very much confidence. If he/she is confident on his/her plans, I don’t have to look in to that plan. I know it will be achieved. But if the outcome goes wrong, I will share the responsibility.

    “I have seen several highs and lows in my life and I know that I can always pull myself together and rise again, no matter how many times I go down. Perhaps, that is my confidence that allows me to say and do the things I Value, Believe and Assume are the most important in life?”

    I believe the confidence that is mentioned here is not the same one the fools have.
    After all without confidence, how can a person respect himself?

    “Is being prepared for the consequences of one’s own action such a bad idea?”

    Not at all. I believe, if not prepared for the consequences, that person is not eligible to do any action.

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