Monday, June 2, 2008

Arrogance: It Will Bite You On the Ass Eventually

I started thinking a lot about arrogance this weekend when I attended my oldest son's high school graduation. I mean, let's be honest here: Who is more arrogant than a freshly-minted, 18-year-old kid with a diploma in hand?

And, that's how it should be. Everyone should have a period in their lives when they believe the world is their oyster. They should enjoy those moments when they just know they're the smartest, coolest thing on the planet and the rest of us are utter fools.

But then life will smack them around a bit, like it does everyone. (I got the headline for this post from a poster showing a bunch of college kids dazed with disbelief as their top team got beaten by somebody who wasn't supposed to be able to do it.)

Still, these young people will pick themselves up and realize they still have a lot of work to do, just as most of us have done. In the end, they will emerge as better human beings with a lot to offer. They will have gotten the message that arrogance serves no real purpose because it's not based on reality.

Or, is it? Is it now a part of our society, along with the 24/7 coverage of every Paris Hilton burp or every word spoken by a presidential candidate two years before the election?

Some people still worry that they come across as arrogant when they are told to promote themselves through things like blogging, or e-mails that update others on their career accomplishments. But isn't that kind of information a sign of someone's hard work? Do we begrudge others their accolades for working hard?

Or, do we dislike arrogance because it shows that the person wants to take a short-cut? Is arrogance becoming more acceptable in the workplace and in life?


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jamiegrove said...

If you feel like you're being arrogant then you probably are...

With all the advice floating around about building "personal brands" it's inevitable that people will feel that they're being disingenuous or arrogant. Before acting on the promotional suggestions of others, I'd advise people to take a deep breath. If what you're about to do doesn't feel right then it probably isn't.

P.S. Congratulations to you son, Anita! :)

Anita said...

A gut check is a good idea. I have always found that if I had listened to my instincts, I wouldn't have made some of the mistakes I did in life!
Thanks for the congrats on my son...they really do grow up so, so fast.

Walter Akana said...

Hi Anita!

I’m sure there is a line between positive self promotion and arrogance! I’m just not always sure where it is.  This is an oversimplification, but I think it’s probably arrogance when you are so full of yourself that you fail to communicate any interest in the views and opinions of others. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s arrogant to promote your point of view and to seek input from others – and thankfully, that is a health direction in the blogosphere and in other social networking venues.

Actually, there is another kind of arrogance that is perhaps more insidious; and that is the righteousness of people who pass judgment without ever making an effort to engage in the dialogue! Too bad, too, because we would probably benefit more from their ideas than their indignation. In the end, we can create an interaction that makes all parties feel valued!

Great post! And Congratulations to you and your son!

Anita said...

I think you make a good point about arrogance being a hallmark of not engaging someone else in a conversation, because isn't arrogance a way of protecting yourself? Isn't it really just a lack of self-esteem that causes you to throw up such barriers? I wonder if arrogance isn't often a real result of ignorance and fear. Thanks for posting.

Walter Akana said...

Great point, Anita! You have really touched the heart of it, I think!

Anita said...

Well, if I did, it's because all these comments help me think about it in different ways. That kind of discussion is so great, isn't it?

Patricia Robb said...

In reference to your second last paragraph "Some people still worry that they come across as arrogant when they are told to promote themselves through things like blogging...".

When someone first posted a comment on my blog and left their URL under their name, I wondered if they were being too self-promoting. I have since learned that in blogging that is like signing a letter.

I appreciate it now when people leave an insightful comment with their "signature". I will usually take the time to go and visit them afterwards.

Maybe there is a fine line between arrogant and good marketing.

Take care,

Erika said...

I think confidence is important at work (if you don't think you can do a good job then who will?) but I think arrogance is miles away from confidence.

Arrogance bespeaks a certain close-minded view of the world that is blindered by cockiness that may or may not be grounded in reality. You can't trust an arrogant person because you can never be sure where his/her arrogance comes from.

I certainly hope that it doesn't become more prevalent in business!

Anita said...

You know, when I first started blogging, I thought it was OK to post my address when I left a comment on someone else's else would I let the world know I existed? But since then, I've heard some big-name bloggers really bad-mouth such a practice. For me, I don't mind if someone leaves an address if they are really adding to the conversation (read: spammers not welcome). I think most people are just doing the best they can to get on the radar screen in a really competitive world.
Thanks for your comments!

Anita said...

I do worry that some of the behavior that often gets the most exposure is that of arrogant people who demand the limelight -- and get it. I think we all need to be ready to stand up and expose those who try to take away the credit from more deserving people. Thanks for posting!

A JR Fan said...

Such an interesting way to look at the aspects of positivity. I'd like to share something I've been thinking about a lot recently. I just finished reading James Arthur Ray’s newest book, Harmonic Wealth, and I had to share this concept he has that I think makes so much sense: LIVING FROM THE OUTCOME (Page 322). James says that most people live toward the outcome, meaning you are living like you don’t have it yet. He says you should shift your thinking so that you are LIVING FROM THE OUTCOME and thus sending out the energy to the world that you already have it. Think, feel, and act like you’ve already made it and the universe will say “Your wish is my command.”
For me, that meant acting like I was more valuable as an individual – acting like a $500 a day earner instead of a $150 a day earner (no more reality TV marathons!) and acting like a thin and fit woman instead of a slightly overweight and sometimes lazy woman (goodbye Ranch Doritos!). Honestly, in the two weeks since I put down the book, things have started changing. And I think it really comes down to that one concept.
Check out the Harmonic Wealth site and link to the book:
- A JR Fan

Anita said...

Dear Fan,
I hope you're not the author doing a book promotion on my site! :) I will assume you've really found something life transforming and that you have found that when you put positive energy get positive energy back. I think arrogance is a lot of negative vibes, so it's no wonder people don't react well to it.