Monday night I sat and watched American Idol for the first time. I didn't watch for very long, and I don't know if what I saw is standard or unique on the show, but they showed some singers that were absolutely horrible. Simon, one of the judges, made a very interesting comment. He said that New Yorkers (which is where the auditions were being held) seem to have an inflated perception of how well they can sing. I began to wonder how much the same thing happens in business.

I know people who think they are great workers, people who think they are great stock pickers, people who think they are key employees, people who think they are well liked, yet many of these people are not what they think they are. How do these people get such misperceptions about their skills, sometimes even in the face of facts to the contrary? Or am I the one who is misperceiving the situation? How often do business leaders think they are doing a great job, like the singers on American Idol, while a Simon Cowell is sitting back thinking "this person stinks?"

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It seems to me that part of the problem is that our brains are hardwired to lie to us – to some extent. Which raises the question: How can a person minimize his/her misperceptions? I'm not sure I have the answers, but I'll think about it and post more on this topic later.

UPDATE: Jon Strande suggested a very cool article that offers a psychological view of what may be happening.