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The specific idea I want to explore has to do with the motivational power of myths and illusions on a personal level. To take a mundane example, people are often told to "believe in themselves." The underlying idea seems to be that high self confidence is an important motivator, especially in competitive settings like school, sports, business and the professions. This is not the idle talk of family and friends; millions of dollars are spent each year by people and their employers on motivational books and programs that offer endless variations on this simple theme in an effort to bolster the self-confidence of the audience. Yet the idea is intellectually vacant, except to the very limited extent that it is meant to correct a given person's erroneous belief that he or she lacks the skill to compete when in fact that skill is present. There are plenty of reasons why one may not meet high expectations, no matter how hard one believes or tries, and, rationally, there is never reason to ignore or downplay the realistic risk of failure. Is it possible, however, that there is something more to motivation, so that the myopic act of "believing in oneself" actually can pay off on average even if it is induced largely through some form of psychological cheerleading? Are there unrealistic beliefs in things besides oneself for which there are similar motivational payoffs? And importantly, is there a price - personal or social - paid as a result? What follows offers some tentative answers that relate to law and lawyering.

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74 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 1569-1597 (2000)