In the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry series, he said to his police captain, “You’re a legend in your own mind.” He also said, “A person has got to know their limitations.” Arrogant people don’t know their limitations because they are legends in their own minds, thereby limiting their awareness - because they already know everything. They are essentially non-learners. They invest their energies in maintaining a cozy feeling of complacency and this complacency is the biggest threat to continued learning. Arrogant people are exactly the sort of people who are destined to have one year’s experience 20 times rather than 20 years’ worth of experience. It’s this sort of segmented closed mindedness that leads to their arrogance, which is a dangerous proposition. Einstein once said, “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.”
Arrogance is camouflaged in insecurity, because insecure people have not done their homework and assume they know enough to BS their way through situations. Basically, they think people are too unaware or too stupid to pick up on their “flying by the seat of their pants” style. My daddy used to say that “it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” He also said, that “It’s hard to be humble.” We run into situations all the time in the consulting world where a client expects a quick and accurate answer. Some consultants opt for what they see as the quick and easy suffice. Only to paint themselves into a corner with the client. They would have been better off telling the client “Let me check with my team and get back with you.” Admitting you don’t have all the answers, is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
Most clients will respect your honesty and humility. They won’t respect you arrogantly BSing them. When you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and then don’t repeat it. To avoid arrogance, you need to be teachable. If you’re a person who knows it all, then you’ve got a lot of pain headed your way. Here’s the deal. No matter how educated, talented, or cool you think you are, how you show-up in the world, ultimately tells it all. Remember, everybody on this planet has something to teach you, so keep your mind open and fertile.