Arrogance is all about trying to prove yourself. Confidence is about improving yourself. – Sean Stephenson
What does that mean?
Well, it’s kind of self explanatory, isn’t it? If you have something to prove, then it’s all about you, and you are being arrogant. If you are trying to improve yourself, then it’s not about you, but about learning, improving and you are therefore becoming more confident.
You’ve seen it on TV and the movies, and possibly even in real life. Two people on the same “team,” but one is all about themselves and proving themselves (and arrogant as all get-out), and the other is all about improving themselves and the team (and fairly confident, although sometimes not). That’s the difference in the approach to life that this quote is describing.
Why is humility important?
To me, the primary difference between arrogance and confidence is the level of humility. Those who have little or no humility will tend heavily towards arrogance. Those who have a lot of humility will be far from arrogant, and with some self esteem, have confidence.
The word humility is based on the word humble, and it is defined (in part) at thefreedictionary.com as “modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.” How does that align with your definition of humility?
Humility allows us to avoid or at least minimize the pitfalls that are associated with pride. It allows us to be gracious in both victory and defeat, and to play well with others. Just think of the opposite of humility, of a prideful or arrogant person, and how much fun they are to interact with. Does that help you value humility a little bit more?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Unless you are a world class jerk (and even if you were, you probably wouldn’t think you were, would you?), you probably already have a fairly good grip on humility. How often you use it, that may be another question.
I try to use my humble side as often as I can. Like any other action (or reaction), it is a habit. If you are used to prideful boasting, then that will be your default reaction, right? If you train yourself out of that habit and react with a little more humility, you can change your habit to a reaction that I believe is more beneficial.
How would humility be beneficial, you ask? How well do you react to people who go to pride and arrogance as their default reaction? Do you want others to feel that way about you? I know that I don’t. Besides, how do things end for the guy in the movie who is arrogant? Not too well, at least in the movies I’ve seen. I know I don’t want to be that guy, how about you?
Humility also tends to help other people relax and enjoy their time around you. How relaxing or enjoyable is it to hear someone boast, trash talk or otherwise act like an arrogant jerk? In contrast, I’m sure you’ve talked with someone who was much more humble, complete with the classic “aw, shucks” comments, right? Was that a more relaxed and pleasant experience?
Another aspect that pride and arrogance can interfere with communication. Where humility allows one to see more clearly, pride and arrogance can cloud the vision and obscure important details of a message.
People who are prideful tend to be blinded to what is happening. Anything and everything is a threat to them, which must be met blindly with arrogance and pride. This can prevent them from seeing the true intent of a person, which may well be an attempt to assist them. How often in the movies does the messenger suffer at the hands of the arrogant jerk?
Humility is about far more than what I have touched on here. I would recommend you work on calming your emotions and relaxing as a prelude to humility. Meditation, long walks, or time with a good book in a quiet place are all great ways to start. The trick is to find what works for you.
I would also consider that you are one person in over 6 billion on this planet. Even if you are truly “one in a million”, there are over six THOUSAND people on this planet that are better than you are at whatever you think you are good at. Kind of hard to be arrogant in the face of statistics like that, isn’t it?
Does the planetary frame of reference help you with your humility? It sure does work for me. For me, humility isn’t about wearing sack-cloth or begging for your meals, but about recognizing that we all have a place in the world.
I can learn something from anyone, and can teach something to anyone. I am neither greater nor lesser than any other. That is what humility means to me. What does it mean to you?