The Vice of Arrogance – ACHTUNG, Baby!

Arrogance… Is there anyone who does not detest this character trait? Before launching into this topic, I do not want to appear above this vice so perhaps its best I start with myself, before placing judgement.

I walk a fine line between confidence and insecurities… as I’m sure most people do. I am generally of the mindset, “Take me as I am, or POOF! Be Gone!” However, there are those rare instances I’ll catch that little devil of insecurity sneaking around and he always catches me off guard. Every now and then he’ll randomly appear, when I encounter someone for the first time who doesn’t know me, but I really value and want to be of relevance to them before they quickly lose interest. It’s almost like I’m trying to pitch a great business idea to a CEO in a short window of time allotted to me. My first instinct may be to impress upon them the wonders of Nicole, when really I’m probably putting them off, instead of just being myself. In those instances, the consequences can be great, since first impressions can often make or break you. That person may walk away with an inaccurate portrayal of me, when all I wanted to do was to have them like me… Thank God that doesn’t happen often!

The problem is in that moment my actions may have rightly been perceived as arrogant, even though I’m not an arrogant individual. Confident, yes… but arrogant, no! My insecurities in that moment may have gotten the best of me. And this is the crux of arrogance.

Many people wrongfully confuse confidence with arrogance, and in truth they may be polar opposites.

confidence-road-signTo clarify, confidence is the belief one has in their ability to meet a challenge. It doesn’t involve feeling superior to others, or better than another person. Similarly, “to be humble is not to have a low opinion of oneself; it is to have an accurate opinion of oneself. It is the ability to keep one’s talents and accomplishments in perspective (Richards, 1992), to have a sense of self-acceptance, an understanding of one’s imperfections and to be free from arrogance and low self-esteem” (Clark, 1992, p.33).

Arrogance is the false illusion of confidence. Sadly, some people live in the domain of arrogance. This IS who they are… always trying to give the appearance and convince others that they are a certain way. It is through the belief of other’s in their pseudo self, do they gain confidence in themselves. It really is tied into self-worth, influenced by the evaluation of others.

Often arrogance comes from a place of insecurity. It is a façade, a mask, or a hype one is creating about themselves. One is projecting themselves to appear a certain way, because they want to be perceived as such. Arrogant individuals want to appear superior to others! It’s there in feeling important because of the job, education, house, car, or experience one has; and the “important” people one desires to know and be friends with. Status is no stranger to this individual. And yet, in their quest to be highly regarded they can never be truly satisfied, because they themselves aren’t truly satisfied in themselves.

confidenceIt is human nature to want to feel important. But, really, if people valued themselves more and relied less on the opinions of others this urge would be fulfilled. I’m sure people who exude Humility have mastered this.

Ironically, isn’t it funny that it is viewed in society as a good thing to have people want to be like you and have what you have? (A discussion for another blog.)

And while we may be all quick to persecute someone who is arrogant or prideful, perhaps we should ponder this thought for a moment:

“There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit.” ~C.S. Lewis

So, is a measure of how arrogant we each are simply a reflection of how much we despise this character flaw in another person? The more we hate arrogance, the more likely we are arrogant???

Think about that thought for a second.

We may all be guilty of demonstrating shades of arrogance in our lifetime. However, being mindful of when and why they occur may help to reduce their occurrences. And for those who are generally arrogant individuals, rather than be annoyed the next time we encounter an arrogant individual, perhaps we should probably feel sympathy. Their attempts at appearing magnanimous may be simply their attempt to show they matter to you.


Written by

Dr. Nicole Forrester is an Olympian High Jumper, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, Mental and High Performance Consultant, and Professor. She believes and is committed to the pursuit of excellence. Nicole is the founder of Optimal Zone Inc. a consultant company which specializes in helping athletes and organizations reach and sustain high performance through training and developmental programs. Additionally, she has worked as a reporter, television host and blogger with CBC, and has provided content and comment for CTV, Rogers and Discovery Health Channel. Her blogs include high performance and lifestyle. Occasionally, she likes to push the envelope, blogging on taboo topics she references as Achtung Series!

1 Comments to “The Vice of Arrogance – ACHTUNG, Baby!”

  1. [...] Today’s blog is a continuation from my previous blog on arrogance. I believe arrogance and pride are closely related, and the strongest deterrent to these vices is humility. As I reflect on the many people who inspire me and make me want to be a better version of myself, they all have the incredible virtue of humility. It is truly a remarkable virtue. And while we may have moments of arrogance or pride (as I’m not sure anyone is free of sometimes falling short in these domains), we can try to counter that with greater demonstrations of humility. [...]

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