Is Arrogance Ever Good?

A friend recently asked me about the source of arrogance. While I suspect many of the arrogant are simply the insecure hiding behind a facade to protect themselves, I have met others who actually do believe they know everything that matters. They are the smartest, best educated, most talented, most logical, or most practical, at least that is what they think. They have a corner on that market and they just won’t listen to anyone else.

I told my friend that she was asking the wrong person because I have never met anyone who couldn’t benefit from listening to more people, hearing more perspectives, and developing new insights. I can’t imagine denying the value others have to offer. 

Being the smartest, assuming it is possible to measure such a thing – or the most educated or talented or logical – is mostly irrelevant. In this world, what matters is effectiveness. And being effective requires combining your talents, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the good of the world – your family, company, customer, community, etc. In a few narrow areas, some people can contribute quite independently with little external input. But in the vast majority of cases, we work with others to produce something bigger than what we could do alone. Our effectiveness is limited if we can’t bring out the best in others.

I don’t mean to diminish the value of talent, knowledge, or skill. I truly appreciate those with an abundance of each and I encourage the development of all three. But I have also seen those who believe notching a high mark on some kind of talent totem pole is an achievement in itself, whether they ever put it to use or not. When they try to contribute, their ineffectiveness negates their talents, knowledge, and skills.

In this complex world, developing your ability to apply all of your strengths effectively is an on-going learning process because nothing is standing still. And to learn, we need input, whether it is something we ask for, hear unsolicited, or acquire through observation. The arrogant deny the need for input which totally stunts their growth. It is such a waste of talent, knowledge, and skill.

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