Back in my early days as a collegiate wrestler, my
father and I exchanged many letters, most of which
I still have.
In one of my letters I told my father that I was “working
on being more humble.”
He wrote me a lengthy letter explaining what humility is –
and what it isn’t. I never forgot the message.
Before receiving my father’s letter, I thought humility was
saying you’re no good when you are, refusing to blow your
own horn, bowing to your inferiors, talking in a low voice,
taking a job beneath your true worth, never showing passion
or excitement of any kind, never smiling, earning an income
below what you could – and so on.
Earlier today I reviewed an email from a man that I coach. He
was asking similar questions. Our correspondence appears
I got the Zero Resistance Living course – am digging in. Question:
How do you square being humble with being confident? I always
seem to have trouble with the line between confidence and arrogance
– in other words I think I hold myself back by being “humble” because
I don’t want to be cocky or arrogant.
Great question. Humility is supposed to be an accurate assessment of
your talents and abilities. If you’re the best at something, it is not humility
to pretend otherwise – just as if you’re lousy at something, it is not real confidence
to pretend you’re great. You can imagine being great – yet that is very different
from telling someone you’re great when you aren’t.
At the same time, some people have a “See, look how humble I am” orientation.
This is also false. It is pure ego and something people quickly read through.
If you’re number one, you can be humble by saying, “I’m the best – but I’m
still working on improving myself because there is always a way to get better.”
This statement encompasses BOTH confidence and humility.
Or, “Today I was at my best. I did a good job. Tomorrow I want to do better.”
That’s confidence. Nothing arrogant about this statement at all.
When I first won a national title in college – I was interviewed by the tee-vee
and papers. Over and over I said stupid things like, “I was lucky.”
Days later when I would be introduced as a “national champion” to others, I
put my head down in shame. I acted embarrassed.
This was NOT humility. Moreover, it would not be cocky to simply smile, thank
the person who introduced me and shake hands with the people before me,
telling THEM I was glad to meet them.
Cockiness or arrogance is a false front designed to protect oneself – or to
showboat for greater attention, publicity, etc. Some of it has a place. Nothing
is either 100% good or 100% bad.
But the arrogance that stinks is that in which the person doesn’t listen to anyone.
He’s got too much knowledge; he’s too smart; has too much Zen. I have no
patience for those who are full of themselves or for those playing the phony
humility game. Both need good kicks in the rear to wake them up.
True, some will not like your confidence – they may even call it arrogance –
but if they’re not successful – pay no heed. They’re afraid of what they don’t
know and jealous of what they don’t have. Your job is NOT getting others’
approval. Your job is being true to what is highest in you.
P.S. Be sure to take a look at the Psycho-Cybernetics Success Group as