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Timeless Principle #4 – Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared some simple (but not simplistic) principles every manager needs to know. As a review, here are the first three:

1. Quit focusing on the outward appearance and concentrate on what’s on the inside.

2. Be a good listener.

3. Put Yourself in Your Employees’ Shoes

If you’ve managed to remember those three, take a moment and think before you brag about it – Principle #4 could be written for you:

Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant!

ToWhen Terrell Owens makes a spectacular catch and taunts the defensive back in the end zone does that tick you off? Do you cringe when you watch old footage of Muhammad Ali proclaiming “I’m the greatest?”Ali

Although both athletes truly are remarkable, it’s their arrogance that most people think of when reflecting back on their careers. Of course arrogance isn’t isolated to just athletics. I’ve worked with and around plenty of folks throughout my career that displayed similar characteristics.

But shouldn’t we be confident? After all nobody wants to hang around people with low self-esteem.

Of course we should be confident! But there’s is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence comes from within. You feel it, and others can sense it. Arrogance starts from within, but others are forced into experiencing it. Let me give you an example.

One of my former co-workers was surprised one day when an NFL legend from the 1960s visited our office for a meeting with the Executive Director. On his way out, he stopped by the front desk and asked her if she wanted his autographed photo before he left! Now I always thought it was the fan who asked for the autograph, but I guess it’s not always the case.

My good friend Pat Kastner just wrote a book asked me what he should do when people asked him to sign it. Pat’s a very humble guy – he’s very experienced and has lots of knowledge, but he’ll never brag about it. He said he felt kind of funny autographing books, but I told him that if he was asked, then he should do it, but never offer to sign – it could come off as a little arrogant.Caringtochange3d_1

Arrogance really harms a workplace. If you think back on the worse boss you ever had, I’m sure there was just a hint of arrogance somewhere driving the bad behavior you remembered. As a manager, don’t fall into the arrogance trap. You’re never too good to clean up after yourself, make your own coffee (and some for your staff as well), or admit you’re wrong. We’re paid to work for you, not worship you.

So the question is, who really can afford to be arrogant? After all, we all have flaws. I for one have failed at many things. Personally, I’m a lot more comfortable being around people who admit mistakes, flaws, failures, and disappointments because I then look at their success and appreciate it more. They seem more real and personable to me. They get my respect not because of what they do, but who they are. They don’t ask for respect, but I really want to give it to them.

Strive for excellence. Be the very best at what you do. Achieve your goals and help others do the same. But do this with confidence, not arrogance. Let others raise you up, don’t do it yourself. Keep your ego in check and watch how the world promotes you. It’s much better than having to do it yourself!

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2 Comments/Trackbacks

Being humble is always more important than being arrogantly helpful or being truly remarcable in a certain field. I wish more people agreed with us on that.

Great article Hal! As a woman I personally detest the arrogance that is displayed by today's athletes and many celebrities. Thankfully my circle of friends consists of soccer moms and "down to earth" people. What a horrible characteristic to have, it is such a turn off !

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