I’m chuckling as I write this because it’s rare that I quote an author two weeks in a row, much less from two different books. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening here.
The line: “Funny how arrogant people always think they’re smart.” triggered the question “How can I tell whether I’m arrogant?” Then it hit me, we all possess the propensity to be arrogant. It’s not a question of whether we’re arrogant, but recognizing when we’re arrogant.
Fortunately, for most of us arrogance isn’t a chronic condition. If it were, we wouldn’t be well-liked. You know what it feels like to be in the presence of someone whose arrogance is stifling, who only wants to hear his/her own words of wisdom, whose primary goal is demonstrating superiority over all others. You’ve no doubt been in the company of people like this and you’ve extracted yourself as quickly as possible.
Since the vast majority of us don’t fit into the ‘extremely arrogant’ category, how can we tell when we’re being arrogant?
You’ll know that you’re being arrogant when you:
- Desire to be heard, rather than to hear what others have to say.
- Believe that you’re right and the other person is wrong. There’s merit to every position, every argument for or against whatever is being proposed. That’s where common ground and the best solutions are found.
- Want to one-up the other person by making your knowledge and experience superior to theirs, to make your pain more severe, your loss more damaging, your success greater.
- Insist that things be done your way. Remember that what works well for you may not be what works well for others.
- Want to be recognized for your contributions. It’s a form of self-aggrandizement that may be either arrogance or a lack of confidence.
- Want to win, regardless of the cost to others.
- Squelch discussions that oppose your position.
In short, whenever your focus is exclusively on yourself, you’re being arrogant. It’s only when you are considering the welfare of all, yourself included, that you avoid being arrogant.
The obvious question is “How can I develop an other-centric mindset?
The answer is simpler than you might think. It’s a two-step process.
- Each morning, shortly after rising, remind yourself that your goal that day is to find a way to help everyone you meet…even if it’s only giving them a reason to smile. It may be the only time they’ve had an opportunity to smile that day.
- Each evening shortly before you retire, recall the instances that you achieved your goal that day. Celebrate your successes. Even if you only helped one person that day, you made someone’s life richer, fuller, easier through your kindness.
Do NOT regret missed opportunities. Instead use them to make you more aware of these possibilities in the future. With this practice, your success rate will go up and the joy associated with the knowledge that you’ve favorably impacted more and more lives each day will grow.
I find joy in knowing that something I’ve done has helped one person. When I do presentations or teach a class, I have no illusion that I’m going to reach everyone. Students must be ready for the teacher to be effective.
But I know that if I reach just one person, my effort will have a ripple effect. That person will share his/her experience with others, some of whom will also find the message helpful. They, in turn, will share their experience with others. None of us will fully know what impact our words or actions have, which is a good thing. It limits the opportunities for us to become arrogant.
These two simple steps:
- Beginning each day with the intention of helping others.
- Ending each day celebrating our successes in helping others.
Reminds us of the joy we experienced in doing so and increases our desire for the psychic rewards that other-centric activities afford.
For our kids
Share this simple two-step process with your kids. Ask them how they felt when they helped someone deal with a challenge they were facing. In doing so they become aware of the psychic rewards that come from helping others.
For both you and our kids, Jim Rohan said that we human beings are not magnanimous by nature. It’s not how we’re wired. However, the enlightened among us give without expecting anything in return, knowing that our kindness will be repaid from somewhere in the universe.
Indeed, as I’ve said many times, I have never gotten ahead of the giving curve. No matter how much I give, I always receive multiples in return. What I feel is gratitude along with a desire to give more. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others in their time of need. The psychic rewards I receive create a desire to help even more people.
Follow these simple practices and you and your kids will never have to be concerned that you’re being arrogant. It’s not possible with an other-centric mindset.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.
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