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Creating Successful Leaders

At first glance, confidence and arrogance share many of the same trademarks: head held high, an ability to dive in and speak up, and a sense of pride in accomplishments. Upon deeper examination, however, arrogance and confidence stand in stark contrast with each other. The best way to distinguish between the two is to ask yourself, “Upon what grounds am I basing my pride?”

1. Cockiness is delusional.

An arrogant person believes their accomplishments are the result of their inherent greatness. They assume, with or without evidence, that they’re better than most everyone else. They don’t take into account the people around them who’ve helped them in the past, or the special circumstances they arrived in that gave them a boost. They lack a sense of gratitude toward the world.

You can see how arrogant thinking is faulty thinking, since nobody became great all on their own. Every present accomplishment is one of a long line of accomplishments, each building off the previous one. No one, regardless of their intelligence, courage, or ambition, can take all the credit for the great work they do. We don’t exist in a vacuum, we exist in a community. Arrogant thinking likes to ignore this fact.

2. Confidence reflects reality.

Healthy confidence, on the other hand, is the practice of learning to ignore what I like to call the “self-saboteur,” that little voice in your head that whispers, “Don’t ask that question, you’ll look stupid,” or, “You aren’t at all prepared to take that on, don’t even try.” The self-saboteur constantly makes you doubt your every thought, motive and goal. In the same way that arrogant thinking is based on lies, the self-saboteur lies to you when it neglects your abilities and undermines your judgment. We must learn to ignore this liar.

Those with confidence issues chronically refuse to give themselves the credit they deserve. Not only is this unfair, it creates an untrue public persona. Why should others place their faith in you when it is clear to them that you don’t have faith in yourself? This can lead to a dangerous downward spiral of self-sabotage at its worst.

If you struggle with self-confidence, reverse the spiral by acknowledging your strengths and achievements. Own it. It is okay to feel good about your talents. You can, and should, pat yourself on the back when you accomplish a goal. And don’t worry about bragging. If you’re worrying about bragging, you probably aren’t arrogant. That thought doesn’t cross the arrogant person’s mind.

3. Confident people learn from their mistakes. Arrogant people do not. 

The confident person sees every failure as a necessary setback which brings them closer to excellence in the long run. In fact, without failure, there can be no excellence. They acknowledge their mistake and move forward with an enhanced knowledge of what not to do. The arrogant person, on the other hand, believes they are incapable of failure. Someone else must be to blame, not them, and so the cycle of entitlement continues.

While the arrogant person is still stuck in their deluded world, you’re miles ahead, having grappled, learned and grown.


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