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Arrogance - Our #1 Obstacle to Wisdom

Too truly be wise, we must understand more than one perspective.

You can be confident without being arrogant. The problem is many of us are not sure how to walk that line. Especially when we think we disagree with another person’s point of view. Some people – i.e. Me – get so entrenched in our positions, that we close down our minds and become more strident defending them. Humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the strongest leaders, the people who garner the most trust and the most loyalty from their followers, have both an abundance of humility and confidence. I recently finished reading the book Just Mercy. The book chronicles author Bryan Stevenson’s experience as he fought for justice for wrongly accused

inmates. He was tough and determined to win in each case. But his Humility, as he led these fights, attracted followers so that his organization - the Equal Justice Initiative - grew from a one person operation to a team of over 80 people dedicated to the cause of equal justice for all. Confidence attracts but arrogance repels. We display our arrogance when we refuse to try to understand another person’s position. When we do that, we lose the trust and respect of the people we want to influence. When we are one on one with somebody else, we need to pay attention to some signals that display our arrogance. ● Do we spend most of the time speaking? ● Do we make a lot of statements, or do we ask a lot of questions? ● Are we seriously listening and trying to understand the other person, or are we preparing our own arguments while they speak? ● Can we repeat back their positions or perspectives in our own words? Most of us want people to trust us and respect us. But if we do not work to understand the perspectives of other people, if we just entrench ourselves more deeply in our own arguments and shut them out, why would anyone trust or respect us? To really be wise, we must understand more than just one perspective. We need to understand other perspectives and show that we care about those perspectives even when they differ from ours. Here are some ways we can exercise Humility in those conversations: ● Ask for their perspective. “Help me understand….” ● Work hard to understand. Ask follow up questions, and listen without formulating a rebuttal. ● Confirm your understanding of their perspective. ● Show you are open to hearing an opposing view by affirming their perspective. “I see where you are coming from.” The only way we will build relationships and strengthen our influence on others is by letting them know we care about what they have to say. The old saying applies: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways you can let someone know you care about them is to listen to them and truly work to understand them. That takes a level of confidence without arrogance. A leader who accomplishes that builds trust with people – even the ones with whom they may not agree. Dig Deep Questions: ● What can you learn from someone with whom you think you disagree?

● How would your efforts to listen to them improve your relationship?


Taking responsibility and exercising Humility is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Humility part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Humility, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.

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