I know I’m very, very, good at what I do. I have been studying human development for 13 years, I have been blessed with a keen sense of awareness and when I’m tuned in, I can spot truth in situations and people pretty fast which allows me to get to the root of problems. I am a great speaker and teacher – put me in front of a group of people and as much as I will get nervous, I’ll also smash it out of the park. Because, that’s what I love doing. And I’m great at it. Also, I now feel so incredibly awkward and uncomfortable after writing all that!
You see, I was taught that boasting was bad. It doesn’t feel good to me to blow my own trumpet. And the truth is that I don’t always feel that sure of myself. I infrequently speak about my accomplishments or share my successes unless I have to, like when I’m writing a C.V. or, if someone explicitly asks me about something I achieved or, if it naturally fits into a conversation. I don’t post on social media every week about how my work has helped people or, the wonderful testimonials and messages I received about it. Although I do have big goals, I don’t proclaim myself as being a ‘world changer’ who ‘wants to affect the lives of a million people’ and I only share my goals with a select few.
Yet, I see other people proclaiming their greatness online and in person every single day. They full-on go for it and often, it seems to work. People who steam ahead appear to choose, state and claim their place. They don’t wait for permission. They believe it and they own it. Even if it may seem delusional, it seems at least for some to work.
This makes me wonder – am I missing something? Maybe my desired success is not coming as fast as I’d like because I don’t put myself out there enough. Do I need to shout about myself more, like those other people?
My answer to that is – yes and no. Shouting about yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you’re confident and will be successful. There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence and true success and fulfillment comes from being on the right side of that line.
Confidence invites people in, arrogance pushes them away
I’ll be honest, I’m a bit irked by people who shout from the rooftops about their greatness. Sometimes it feels arrogant and self-absorbed which really puts me off. It’s not so much what they say, but the energy with which they say it.
I’m totally fine with the likes of Oprah Winfrey talking about her successes. I’m absolutely fine with Usain Bolt speaking about smashing world records. I love seeing friends and colleagues past and present, achieving great things and sharing them on social media. But I also note, that these people don’t do it all the time, just when the time is right. And when they speak, it doesn’t sound like they are trying to convince anyone else of their greatness. Their words come from a genuine place of sharing, celebration and gratitude. At that moment, they have mastered confidence, not arrogance.
· Confidence is graceful, quiet and gentle. It speaks for itself.
· Arrogance lacks elegance, it’s loud and boisterous. It needs advertising.
· Confidence indicates ‘this is what I can do, I have nothing to prove and seek nothing in return’.
· Arrogance indicates ‘this is why I’m better than you and I expect validation and approval’.
· Confidence doesn’t take full responsibility for success and can admit insecurity and lack of knowledge.
· Arrogance says, ‘it’s all me and I know everything’.
· Confidence says, ‘your gain takes nothing from me’.
· Arrogance believes ‘your gain is my loss’.
· Confidence says, ‘I’ll be fine if you don’t like me’.
· Arrogance says, ‘I need you to like me’.
· Confidence is based in humility and wisdom. Arrogance simply, is not.
Arrogance is actually a sign of deep insecurity. And even if it works for a while, eventually, that cookie always crumbles.
Building true confidence
Your baseline confidence, like most things about you, was created when you were a tiny tot. In your youngest years and early childhood, you will have learned how to feel about yourself and how to behave in relation to that. My childhood experience was that my achievements were never celebrated, in fact they were often downtrodden as not good enough and, my failures were amplified and never forgotten. This might be why I now struggle to celebrate and shout about my own success because, I learned that it’s just not something to do. In addition, I learned to think that I’m not that good so, what’s to shout about?
On one hand, I could be frustrated about all that because it probably holds me back by reducing my confidence. But, I’m grateful for it because it also reduces my arrogance. As I type that, I experience the irony of feeling arrogant because I’m saying that I’m not arrogant! That aside, I sense that it’s easier to build confidence than it is to unlearn arrogance so, I’m grateful to be this way.
Unlearning arrogance requires facing the insecurities that underly it. This requires a person to be vulnerable, to experience their shames and pains, to face up to the feelings of not being good enough. Few people will be ready for that. It’s not easy. In addition, if things don’t work out – as inevitably we all fail sometimes, an arrogant person who believes ‘it’s all about me’ will take the full hit. Arrogance is not a fun place to be in.
On the other hand, building confidence is about building capability. It’s about getting out there and doing what you do, better and better each time. Yes, you must face some nerves, some fear and get out of your comfort zone but, over time the results you get will slowly build your confidence. As your confidence builds, the next challenge is to maintain humility if you’re not to cross the line into arrogance. This requires reminding yourself that it’s not all you. Every success you have will have involved other people so thank them too. Every talent you have is borne out of some God/ Universe/ Life/ Luck (choose whichever word works for you!) given gifts. Bow down to that too. This is crucial if you are to remain confident but not arrogant.
“Confidence is grounded in experience and expertise with a sense of respect and humility; whereas arrogance, is grounded in nothing (it is unwarranted baseless confidence with lack of respect and humility).” Rhett Power
About the author: Pinky Jangra
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’