SPOILER WARNING: This post includes spoilers for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection.
According to Eliezar Yudkowsky, your thoughts should reflect reality. According to Paul Graham, the most successful people are slightly overconfident. C.C. embraces the contradiction head-on in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection.
Lelouch: "Next? Next we… Next we…"
C.C.: "Give up?"
Lelouch: "Under the circumstances…"
C.C.: "Things are desperate, is that it?"
C.C.: "I was the same way. I was desperate, journeying in search of even a pinhole of light. But even so, I never gave up. I was sure that someday, I would bring you back, all that time. And now… This isn't the you that I wanted to get back! I wanted the pompous, egotistical, overconfident one. The Lelouch who never, at any time, gave up."
C.C.: "I'm sorry I didn't…mean to dump all this on you. You can pull out. This is farewell."
Lelouch: "What a self-centered woman you are. All right, C.C.. This enemy possesses a Geass."
C.C.: "A Geass? How do you know?"
Lelouch: "It's my hypothesis."
―Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection
Other people—especially women—love me when I'm a cocky arrogant megalomaniac. I love me too. What is going on? Nobody likes phonies. Shouldn't people prefer the company of others whose confidence is well-calibrated?
Half of the equation is I'm an anomalously capable person. I've been on the international news for my inventions. I've taught myself more skills than I can keep track of. When you combine enough competence with enough confidence, the drawbacks of slight overconfidence (like arriving late to an airport) get lost in the noise.
Bill [Gates] was as headstrong as ever. Once I flew with him to San Francisco to visit a few customers. For efficiency’s sake, we conducted separate meetings before rendezvousing back at the airport. I reached the gate several minutes before takeoff, but Bill was late as usual. They issued the final boarding call—no Bill. I was resigned to finding the next flight when he rushed up to the gate, out of breath. It was too late; the plane was already inching away from the jetway. But Bill never stopped running, through the boarding gate and into the jetway itself, with me trailing. Upon reaching the motor control panel, he did a quick scan and began pushing buttons. Then I realized what was happening: Bill was trying to move the jetway back up to the plane so we could board.
Aghast, I called out, “Don’t do that!” An airline agent rushed over; I was sure that we would both be arrested or, at the very least, escorted from the terminal. But the man said, “Sir, sir, hold on. We’ll get the plane to come back.” To my astonishment, that is exactly what happened. They returned the plane, allowed us to board, and we got home on time.
―Idea Man by Paul Allen
Napoleon Bonaparte. Albert Einstein. Catherine the Great. Adolf Hitler. Karl Marx. Che Guevara. Mao Zedong. Charles Darwin. George W. Bush. Barack Obama. Can you think of anyone who has changed history who wasn't a little overconfident? Steve Wozniak and Linus Torvolds—but no one nontechnical. High confidence makes you more likely to do things instead of not doing things. Extreme confidence means you never give up. It is advantageous to be friends with the kind of people who do things and never give up.
Cypher: "I'm going to let you in on a little secret here. Now don't tell him I told you this, but this ain't the first time Morpheus thought he found the One."
Cypher: "You bet your ass. It keeps him going. Maybe it keeps all of us going."
Neo: "How many were there?"
Cypher: "Five. Since I've been here."
Neo: "What happened to them?"
Cypher: "Dead. All dead."
Cypher: "Honestly. Morpheus. He got them all amped up believing in bullshit. I watched each of them take on an Agent and I watched each of them die. Little piece of advice: you see an Agent, you do what we do; run. Run your ass off."
Neo: "Thanks... for the drink."
Cypher: "Anytime. Sweet dreams."
Imagine if Morpheus had calibrated his odds properly.
Morpheus: "There is a 17% chance you are the One, Neo."
Neo: "What is that supposed to mean?"
Morpheus: "If an agent shoots you, there is a 17% chance you have the potential to dodge bullets."
Neo: "I see. If my confidence is 100% then my odds are 17%. And if my confidence is 99% then my odds are 0%. Therefore my actual odds are are between 0% and 17%."
Morpheus: "I know what you're thinking, because right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here. Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?"