We are living in a time that is lacking in confidence but overflowing with arrogance. Many times these two characteristics are used synonymously, but in reality they are miles apart.
Have you ever considered the difference in arrogance and confidence?
- Arrogance says it’s all about me.
- Confidence says I can do anything that’s asked of me.
It’s evident in our culture that arrogance is ruling. Anyone watching the presidential debates sees it first hand. We are consumed with the pronouns me, myself, and mine. We have a world full of people (many times myself) that are self-centered and only willing to work when they are or will be at the top of the food chain.
We are starving for people in all realms that have an attitude that says, “I can get the job done and need no one to hold my hand along the way!” In essence we need way more heroes and a lot less celebrities. We need people willing to serve and make a difference rather than those who say, “I am here to be served and to get noticed.”
The question then becomes, “How do we instill confidence instead of arrogance in the people we lead and within ourselves?” This is critical for CEOs, coaches, parents, educators and anyone else in a leadership role.
I would suggest the main ingredient in building confidence rather than arrogance is difficulty. When the opportunity for difficulty exists without someone stepping in to bail us out, confidence then becomes a trait in people that is attainable. It is difficulty that creates a two way street, providing opportunities for success and struggle—the key components of true confidence.
I can remember growing up on a farm and my dad allowing me to do things that were new and unfamiliar. Many times those opportunities didn’t end up the way I wanted. The difficulty allowed me to see I needed help and provided a little humility.
Understanding you need help at times is a trait of confident people. Many of those same opportunities ended flawlessly. I walked away knowing that my dad had confidence in my abilities, which translated into my own self-confidence.
How can anyone truly be confident if there is never a trial? In our culture today we try to provide all of the best opportunities for people without allowing them to walk through some sort of struggle. They begin to think that success is a path easily maneuvered and someone will pave the way on their journey.
At some point in life struggle will be present, and our ability to overcome it will require a large dose of confidence. Unfortunately, the lack of difficulty due to the protective barriers that leaders and mentors construct results in arrogance rather than confidence.
Look at youth sports. Kids are not learning at a young age. They are being managed. We tell them what to do, where to go and put them on all the best teams, which is often a recipe for arrogance.
As a Division I coach, I see student-athletes who have been told they can do anything or be anything there whole life, but they were never allowed to overcome things on their own that would be considered an obstacle. Consequently, at the slightest hint of difficulty these student-athletes began to look for others to overcome instead of believing in their own ability to jump a hurdle.
I saw a funny cartoon the other day that illustrates it perfectly: