When Arrogance Replaces Confidence



In a recent article – “We Should Never, Ever, Doubt Our Ability to Succeed” I made a case for confidence being one of the defining factors of all successful people we know, and I wrote ….

“It is their inner belief that they can achieve anything they want to achieve, and enjoy as much success as they wish – however they personally define success.”

The article prompted several comments including this one …

“This was another (always) interesting article. Thanks. I am wondering how best to test for the confidence level you discuss when interviewing prospective sales personnel. (If it has not been clearly demonstrated in past performance records). I believe “over” confidence displays itself in cockiness and conceit and that amount of confidence is harmful (to me, my company and the salesperson himself) in the long run. Any thoughts on how to test for the “right” confidence level ???”

My response …

There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance (cockiness). Confident people understand the need to continually learn and expand their commercial bandwidth. They understand what they know, but equally recognize what they don’t know. Conversely, arrogant people think they know it all, and as a consequence, don’t know what they don’t know!”

And that really is the point: Crossing that line from confidence to arrogance is so, so easy.

One can very easily formulate a list of political leaders; military leaders; artists; sporting icons; and even so called sales “gurus” – whatever interpretation you apply to that word – who were the architects of their own demise, because quite simply, they allowed their egos to rule their heads. They forgot their roots. They forgot the people who helped them on the way up – the same people who would inevitably suffer a similar loss of memory as our heroes travelled in the opposite direction downwards.

Humility is, in my view, one of the most admirable and rare traits of the truly successful.

As an example, this w/e, ahead of the publication of July’s Top Sales Magazine, I was looking back at the monthly interviews, and I started – unsurprisingly with Issue One. Linda Richardson interviewed Gerhard Gschwandtner. Here we have two people at the very top of their game: The one who has created arguably the most successful global sales training company, written a host of best-selling books, serves on all the important sales-related committees, and is quite rightly acknowledged as the “significant” female sales thought leader of our generation. The other has created the empire that is Selling Power, and who continually prompts us to revise our thinking.

Their common characteristic? It’s that word again – HUMILITY. For example, whenever I need to communicate with them I always receive a very prompt response. It is never “I am free at 11:45am Eastern next Thursday” but rather “Jonathan, I am free on xxx, or xxx or xxx, which is best for you?”

I do not receive special treatment. I know that they are equally generous and thoughtful with everyone because quite simply they are not arrogant – but they are quite simply confident!

“Getting it” means different things for different people: Jill Konrath first alerted me to the expression five years ago, and since then I have had the opportunity to better understand what she meant by it.

To me, it means “Win-win” and “Give and take” but usually “Give first (and generously) and ask questions later”

In fact I intend to write an article on the topic and reveal all the incredible people in my own network who really “get it” and those who think they do!!

The underlying message of this post is this: It really doesn’t matter how good you think you are, there will always be people who are better, and your ambition should be to emulate them.

Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your chosen topic, respect others who know everything there is to know about their chosen topic – being myopic is a very unattractive trait.

Everyone you meet in this world will know something you don’t know – do not be misled by their status, because status has no relevance when it comes to wisdom. Some of the most interesting and mind-expanding conversations I have ever had have been with people in very humble situations – they probably couldn’t spell “arrogance” let alone describe it!


News: Over at Top Sales World today, we feature a brand new tip: “Hidden Objections – What Lurks Beneath the Surface” from Jonathan London and also a new article from Anthony Iannarino “Three Levels of Leadership and the Spark”

This week’s featured book is the mega-selling “Perfect Selling” by Linda Richardson. In fact I was chatting with Linda yesterday about her new book, which is due to be published later in the year – I think it is also going to be a best-seller. You will also discover a new white paper – “Get More Customers! How to Build an Outbound B2B Lead Generation Team that Drives Sales” from Openview. And finally, you will enjoy “Remarkable Selling: 23 Inspiring Quotes from the Top Sales Influencers Online” which has been beautifully presented. 



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