Alex Harvey, a 20-something young leader who reads my blog sent me this email recently: “I just had a great talk with my dad about the difference between confidence and arrogance…I was really hoping you could possibly write a blog post about these topics and any other related topics. I would also love to hear how you have learned to be humble and how that changed your world-view.”
Here’s a quote that has always helped me. “There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance…its called humility.” (Unknown). The bigger question is, can confidence and humility simultaneously exist in the same person? Is it possible that a leader is both confident and humble? To answer, we must know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Here’s how I would define the difference: Confidence smiles while Arrogance smirks.
Confidence Smiles – When you know who God has made you to be, your calling, your mission, your purpose, your strengths, your weaknesses, your talents and gifts, you should be confident. With God’s wisdom and power inside, you can leverage your strengths with assuredness, decisiveness and confidence.
Arrogance Smirks – When your confidence is unbridled and rooted in your self more than in God and gratitude for what God has given you and who He has made you to be –you can easily slip into arrogance. Leaders who become arrogant can achieve short-term success. But arrogance will ultimately lead to downfall. We’ve all seen it happen over and over again.
Humility Sustains – In order to protect yourself against arrogance, your confidence must be rooted in humility. Humility is that thin line between confidence and arrogance.
It feels awkward to even mention the things that have helped me walk that thin line in my leadership. Just sharing this makes me think I’m possibly stepping off the humility line into arrogance. That line is very thin and I am always very self-conscious about crossing it.
However, leaders take risks so I’m going to confidently say, here are a few ways I attempt to combat arrogance: 1) I remember it’s not about me. It’s all about Someone much greater than me. 2) I stay in awe of God’s grace and blessings. I daily recognize that God has given me more than I deserve. 3) I acknowledge my strengths and talents are not self-created but from God. 4) I try to own my mistakes, weaknesses and screw-ups. 5) I regularly express gratitude to the team members around me who are instrumental to my success. 6) I daily express gratitude to God for life, health and strength to live out His purposes through me.
Bottom line, a very thin line indeed, is that humility rooted in gratitude will be your best protection from arrogance. Only then can you live and lead with confidence to accomplish the great things God has purposed in and through you.
QUESTION: What additional attitudes or actions have helped you avoid arrogance? I would love to hear them in the Comment section below. Thanks!