My favorite radio talk show host and movie reviewer Michael Medved (here’s the show’s blog) had a short prerecorded review of the movie The Pink Panther staring Steve Martin on his show today. In it he said a phrase that really got me thinking. When describing the Parisian detective protagonist Inspector Clouseau, Medved said Clouseau, “combines supreme self-confidence with utter incompetence”. In case you don’t know, this description is accurate because Clouseau speaks like and truly believes he is the best detective in the world but in reality he can’t do anything right and if things work out it’s in spite of himself and usually the effort of another that he’s unaware of. I started to wonder in what areas of daily life do ordinary people posses “self-confidence” but exhibit incompetence. In other words we think we know what we’re doing but the reality says differently.

Coincidentally, on the same day Medved’s guest was Peter Schweizer, author of “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy”. They were discussing areas of life where people profess one thing but do another. This conversation further fueled my thoughts on this topic.

Obviously the extreme juxtaposition between the confidence and incompetence of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther makes for an entertaining movie but in what areas of your life are you exhibiting dichotomies, albeit much less extreme? Look over the following list as see if you recognize yourself:

  1. You may be confident that you know how to raise your children but you’re actually incompetent since you don’t get involved with them in either their daily activities or personal development.
  2. You’re confident that you have a strong relationship with your spouse but you’re incompetent since your spouse doesn’t feel the same way.
  3. You portray a confidence that you know how to do your job but an incompetence since you’re not up to date on the latest advances in your field or you don’t go to the “next level” and further your understanding or abilities.
  4. You’re confident that you’re providing good service to a customer but you’re incompetent in that you only really care about making the immediate sale, and taking your commission, whether or not it’s truly in the customer’s best interest.
  5. You’re confident you know how to socialize and have a conversation but you’re incompetence is revealed as you mainly talk about yourself or you often whine, complain, bitch and moan about anything and everything.
  6. You’re confident that you know how to handle your personal finances but you’re incompetence is exposed as every last penny you take in each month is spent and you have no funds saved for retirement.
  7. You’re confident that you know who should be the President and what political party is right for this Country however you’re incompetent in that you can’t support your belief with reasoned analysis. In other words you don’t know why your party is the right one, as you’ve never really thought about it. Maybe it’s the party of your parents and friends.
  8. You’re confident that you have your priorities straight however you’re incompetence shows as you find yourself spending most of your time on the least of your priorities (such as watching mindless TV).
  9. You’re confident that you’re doing right by God because you believe you’re following the Golden Rule and trying to be thoughtful of others however your incompetence surfaces as you exhibit only self-centeredness when you wallow in pity, depression, confusion, bitterness, intolerance and anger.
  10. You’re confident that you need the expensive house, new car and lavish vacation but incompetent as you don’t realize these are trifles particularly if they come at the expense of having to place your child with a stranger nine hours a day (assuming you’d rather not).
  11. You have confidence that you’re doing the right thing by contributing to charity but your incompetence is divulged when your primary motivation is that you want it to be known publicly.
  12. You are confident as you “believe” that Jesus is your personal savior but incompetent since you don’t know what that really means and you only “believe” it because you were brought up to do so. Perhaps familial or peer pressure cause you think you have to otherwise you won’t go to heaven or you’ll be “left behind” at the end of days.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above don’ fret or beat yourself up about it. We’re all learning. We’re all growing. As they say, the first step in improving yourself is to recognize the problem. In fact, if you recognize yourself in any of these, it’s best to take it light-heartedly. This juxtaposition between what you think you know and what you actually know, as revealed by what you do, is sort of humorous on a spiritual level. It’s like the suave, debonair executive who carries an arrogant, pretentious, superior attitude who slips on a banana peels and falls in mud on the way to an “important” business meeting. A little humility goes a long way toward spiritual growth.

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One Response to “Are You Confident but Incompetent like Inspector Clouseau?”  

  1. 1 Me

    Bravo!!! again thanks for keeping it Real… We all can see ourselves in your examples and you’re right to take it light-heartedly as we try to better ourselves each day. One step at a time.

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