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Competent people worry that they might not be competent. To a large extent, that constant critical self-appraisal is what makes them competent.

In contrast, incompetent people regularly believe they're doing a great job.

Well said -- that's a terrific summary of my post.

This is well-documented in the literature under the name Dunning-Kruger Effect. It is different from Imposter Syndrome in that the latter implies pathology. You can learn more about research into self-appraisal and skill here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

Note, however, that there's newer evidence that says it's not just incompetent people that overestimate their own abilities, but "Kruger and Dunning’s main data is better explained by positing simply that we all have noisy estimates of our ability and of task difficulty." http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/11/all-are-unaware.html

I completely agree. It is doubt about your own competence that makes one want to learn more and improve their skills. In contrast if you think you are a genius you won't have that same desire to keep studying.

But does this work after you become aware of it?

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