For better and worse, one of the most well-established studies in the behavioral sciences is that we human-beings tend to have inflated and often wildly inaccurate evaluations of our skills and actions -- this is sometimes called self-enhancement bias. I have written about this here before, in discussing David Dunning's book Self-Insight, which shows that this tendency for self-delusion is especially pronounced in areas where we are most incompetent! As I wrote then (and dug into in Good Boss, Bad Boss to explain why self-awareness is so difficult for leaders -- especially bad leaders):
In a survey of thousands of high school seniors ,70% of respondents rated their leadership ability as above average while only 2% rated their leadership ability as below average, and -- turning to my own profession -- 94% of college professors say they do above average work.
The pile of evidence for self-enhancement bias grew a bit lately, with a new study on tailgating. As USA Today tells us:
Michelin is putting out a little research that shows that 74% of drivers say someone tailgated them in the past six months. But only 11% admit to having tailgated someone else.
The lesson from all this is if you think that problems are always caused by other people around you and are rarely if ever to blame, well, that might be good for protecting your tender ego, but it is a lousy mindset for identifying and repairing your flaws!
P.S. The picture of of a billboard in Colorado. Good fun.