September 14, 2005
Arrogance stems from fear, low self-esteem
What causes people to be arrogant?
A sense of personal entitlement, fear and low self-esteem
are the big three.
Fortunate birth circumstances are not self-made. Those
who snobbishly live off of the hard work, sacrifice and
successes of previous generations often come across as
feeling entitled to privileged position, power and prestige.
Even sports fans, who wrap themselves in the victories
of their teams, come across as haughty, deserving admiration
simply because "their team" posted more victories
than my team. The sports example is especially painful
for me, having been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. The
Cubs give me little reason to gloat, boast and even bring
up my team's name, except to fellow suffering "Wrigley
Field Warriors." Humility trumps haughtiness and
Fear of "being found out" regarding dark
secrets of incompetence, uncertainty and doubt drive
many to overcompensate. A wise mentor said: "The
most expensive thing that a man has, not a woman, is
Boys battle over toys, running speed and brute strength.
Such pursuits are costly, exhausting and often dangerous.
Women really are smarter and they know it, which may
explain why they live longer. Humiliating others, picking
fights to demonstrate prowess and being stingy, especially
when tipping service people, is a window into a bitter
soul. Those who are in "over their heads" turn
to bluster and bullying to camouflage their fundamental
feelings of inadequacy. Another of my curmudgeon friends
said to remember, "your ego is not your amigo."
Low self-esteem, blamed on mediocre parenting and humble
beginnings, has been oversimplified by those who wish
to sidestep accountability.
Clients seek input from our firm, Dimension Five Consultants,
to enhance their interpersonal and organizational effectiveness.
When challenged, by us, to adjust certain counter-productive
behaviors, some instead make excuses. They were either
too tall and stood out or were too short and overlooked.
Too fat, too skinny, too poor, too rich, first child,
middle child, born in the city, reared in a small town,
English was a second language, English is the only language,
father left family, parents stayed in horrible marriage
- and the list goes on.
Sooner or later, adults must get over it and move on. Life
is filled with opportunities for those who are willing
to risk, reach out and grow. Crutches are for the crippled,
not the lazy. Being rude is irresponsible. Condescension
does not reflect integrity, but graciousness does. Showing
respect for others, regardless of their economic, cultural
or social position, is the mark of maturity and civility.
Letter to the Editor, published November 8, 2005:
deterrent to good business
I have read with interest the business column by Jim
Bracher and agree with much of what he says.
Ego is truly an impediment for men and women. I'm not
sure about the part where it says women are smarter,
because I have seen many women who play the backstabbing
game more viciously than men. Maybe the problem is that
these women have tried to become "manly" in
adopting some of the more combative aspects of the male
Back to my point. Ego is the great destroyer of men
and women and careers and marriages and any other type
of relationship. My ego is pretty strong, but not to
the point where I will lie, cheat or do things that will
harm others personally or professionally. I have been
told I lack a killer instinct, and I thank God every
night that it is true. But where that limits me in the
dog-eat-dog world of business, it helps me in other
areas of life. If you can identify the "killers" and
weed them out of the organization, and get people to
play by the rules of human decency, the organization
would become more collaborative, more functional, more
communicative and more productive (although performance
issues are still performance issues, and need to be addressed).
This is so simple, yet so hard for people to understand.
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