I was having breakfast with my friend Todd the other morning at one of my favorite hangouts in Puerto Vallarta. Todd made an observation that he believes there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. He had brought up the subject of confidence a few days before so I assumed that it must be something that was on his mind.
While Todd’s statement had a ring of logic to it, I told him that I believed the opposite was true. He was curious about what I meant.
I went on to offer my opinion that confidence and arrogance were poles apart rather than separated by a fine line.
Todd is probably like a lot of Nice Guys who are afraid that if they act too confidently, people might see them as arrogant assholes.
Since they don’t know where that fine, invisible line is, Nice Guys stay well behind it. They keep their candle hidden under the proverbial bushel to avoid coming across as brash or cocky.
Here’s the difference between confidence and arrogance – confident men are conscious, arrogant men are unconscious.
A confident man is aware of his strengths and weaknesses but doesn’t get his identity from either. An arrogant man magnifies his strengths, overcompensates for, or hides his weaknesses, and gets his identity from both.
A confident man is aware of the effect of his actions on others. Though he doesn’t seek approval, he acts with integrity, respect and love. An arrogant man is either unaware of, or doesn’t care what effect his actions have on others. His behavior is often disrespectful, self-centered, and unloving.
This is why I suggest the line between confidence and arrogance is miles apart, not microscopic. The only way a confident man would become arrogant is if he completely became unconscious of self and others. That’s not a thin line. While we all lose consciousness in various ways many times a day, the confident man regains consciousness as often as he loses it.
Here are some other differences between confidence and arrogance.
A confident man is secure. An arrogant man is insecure.
A confident man is internally validated by his actions, not by the results of his actions or the recognition of others. An arrogant man is externally validated by results and the recognition of others.
A confident man is unattached to outcomes (he lovingly doesn’t give a fuck). An arrogant man is completely attached to outcomes.
A confident man is able to risk, fail, and look foolish. An arrogant man is risk avoidant and never puts himself in situations that might lead to failure or that might make him look foolish.
A confident man is willing to repeatedly do whatever it takes to develop his skills (including accepting repeated failures). An arrogant man will only do things he knows he is already good at.
A confident man is teachable. An arrogant man already knows it all and bristles at instruction.
A confident man can be vulnerable and ask for help. An arrogant man is closed off to help and feedback.
As I was writing the list above, it struck me that if you removed the words “arrogant man” and replaced them with “Nice Guy,” the profile would still pretty well fit pretty well (Hmmmmm, unconsciousness).
Something else about confidence -- it isn’t necessarily the result of being really good at something.
For example a dancer with average skills can dance confidently. Not because he is the best dancer on the floor, but because he enjoys the dance, he is willing to stretch himself, and he is willing to learn from each new experience.
Because he doesn’t compare himself to others for validation, an average dancer can dance with great confidence even while surrounded by much better dancers.
Based on my own experience, most women would rather dance with an average dancer who has confidence than with a superior dancer who is unconsciously arrogant.
Let’s apply confidence to approaching women.
Single guys often bring up the seemingly catch 22 of confidence and approaching women. They rightly assert that women are attracted to confident men. They then wrongly assert that confidence comes only from success. Since they can’t be successful without confidence and they can’t be confident until they have success, they will never be able to successfully approach and get a woman.
This fallacy is based on the erroneous belief that you have to be successful to gain confidence. This is far from the truth. Just walking up to a woman and talking to her projects confidence -- even if you aren’t feeling confident. It is action that projects confidence and action that increases the odds of success. A woman isn’t going to go out with you if you never talk to her.
How to become more confident
Here are a few suggestions for becoming more confident.
Build a support system. Find a mentor, coach, trainer, or teacher. Don’t try this on your own. Be willing to ask for the help of someone who can teach you effective skills and give you feedback as you practice these skills.
Be willing to face fears and take risks. Keep doing this until the day you die. Remember, confidence comes from action, not results.
Repetition. Be willing to fail and look foolish over and over again. In many ways, confidence can be boiled down to the awareness that you have done something enough times that you know you will handle whatever happens.
Learn from every experience. There are no mistakes or failures, only learning experiences.
Soothe your anxiety. Breathe and tell yourself that no matter what happens, you will handle it.
Consciously let go of attachment to outcome. Learn to lovingly not give a fuck.