In the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with the difference between confidence and arrogance. Usually I err on the side of encouraging people to sell themselves more because Australians are notoriously bad at it but I’ve been on the receiving end of some serious diva/divo behaviour recently and sometimes I think it’s good to take a step back, observe our own behaviour and make sure we aren’t acting like total wankers. I’ve been asked several times how to be confident without being arrogant and it’s a weird topic to cover but I thought I’d give it a crack.
As a business owner, I spend a lot of my personal development time watching entrepreneur keynote speeches at conferences and major events. The key message in the majority of these speeches is a fake-it-till-you-make-it-razzle-dazzle-them-say-yes-and-figure-it-all-out-later mentality and while I love a bit of Tony Robbins fist bumping, it can be damaging to people who already have a fairly strong wanker gene.
For example, I recently had a random guy offer his discounted rate to speak at Little Blog Big – $10,000 a day plus expenses. I didn’t even bother replying to his email. I knew exactly the type of guy he was. He forked over an obscene amount of money for a conference where a charming guy in a suit told him ‘You are WORTH $10,000 a day – all you have to do is DEMAND it!’ and he lapped it up, believed it and started selling himself as a top-tier expert in absolutely nothing.
I know most people aren’t as extreme as that but I think even on a basic level, a healthy dose of realism is needed every now and then, especially in the entrepreneurial world. I want nothing more than everyone to reach their full potential and healthy self-promotion is essential to getting ahead in life. I’m just concerned by the alarming amount of people who constantly seek public validation for not really doing very much.
I try to think about this every time I suffer a disappointment. I don’t love losing but it happens to me often because I work in a creative and competitive field and it comes with the territory. There’s a fine line between being confident enough to strive for your goals and behaving like the world needs to roll out a red carpet for you everywhere you go.
Confidence is entering the competition, working hard and hoping for the best. Arrogance is entering the competition, expecting to win and being genuinely pissed off when someone else takes the grand prize. We can all slip into the land of wankerage accidentally though so here are a few things I like to keep in mind if I’m in danger of turning into a diva…
Never assume that someone knows who are you… unless you’re Oprah.
Just because you like to do something, doesn’t mean you’re good at it.
Self-promotion is awesome, as long as you have something awesome to self-promote.
If you want to create interest, you need to do something interesting.
Aim for the moon but don’t act like a tool if you land amongst the stars.