“Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. Humility means you think of yourself less.”
Last night, along with over 100 million people, my family and I watched Super Bowl 50. It was a great game. Though I wasn’t really wowed by any spectacular performances, it was great to see the Denver Broncos come out on top.
Going into the game, some sports predictions had them 5 to 1 losing to the Carolina Panthers. It was an upset for Cam Newton and his team, and, as always, I know losing is tough. It’s especially tough when you’ve spent your whole season working towards a goal only to see it slip through your fingers in the final minutes of the last game.
All of that said, I couldn’t help but notice a contrast. The contrast was stark, obvious, and disappointing all at the same time.
Before the game started, I watched the bio’s of each teams quarterbacks in the Pre-Game show. Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, both excellent athletes, complimented each other on their skills and their careers. I heard both men speak well of each other and both men talked about being role models in their own way.
But then as the game neared the end, I began to see something that, as a father of two young boys, deeply disturbed me. One of the quarterbacks began to act like a baby, and it wasn’t Peyton Manning. One of the quarterbacks began throwing a fit on field in the final moments of the game as they realized that their dreams of winning would not be realized last night.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I realize that, in the moment, it is often difficult to deal with disappointment. I have thrown my own temper tantrums as a grown man at times, and I know what it feels like to fail. It is humiliating, it is devastating at times, and it is hard to accept.
The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance
But last night, the Super Bowl showed me that there is a stark contrast between confidence and arrogance. And I want to help you today be able to discern when you or someone you know is expressing confidence or simply acting arrogant.
- Loud or Quiet. When you are confident in yourself and your skills, there is no need to be boastful about it. Your actions speak much much louder than the words you speak. You don’t silence critics by telling them to be silent, you show the world your ability to excel in the area that you have trained. And if you fail, you don’t whine about it like a baby. Quiet confidence is trust in your team, trust in the work you’ve done to get yourself to that point, and trust in the process that it takes to get it done. There is no need to be loud and boisterous when you are confident, because the product you create, the effort you give, and the outcome of your work shows up all by itself when you do the right things.
- Proud or Humble. There is a pride that is good. A pride that looks at the work that has been done and feels a sense of significance is positive and affirming. But then there is a pride that exalts oneself above others, that looks for recognition and glory, that asserts itself above other people and feeds off of fame that is given to it. An American celebrity culture thrives on people who are full of themselves. It makes for great entertainment. Everyone talks about a showboat or a popular train-wreck. Look at Donald Trump, the Kardashian’s, Cam Newton. This is America’s celebrity culture. Pride seems to look better on parade than humility does. Until someone with a humble spirit rises to the top after years of hard work and dedication. Humility never seeks recognition. It get’s noticed, but not the way pride does.
- Fame-seeking or happy to Fade. A confident person doesn’t need applause from the world because they already have that applause inside. An arrogant person really seeks the world’s applause because the need is there to receive it from the outside. Confidence has internal approval. Arrogance seeks external approval.
- Losing or Learning. After last night’s game, there was a press conference. Mr. Newton’s responses to the questions asked of him were not those of a learner, but those of a loser. His actions afterward of pouting and walking off the stage only serve to solidify the truth that his show of confidence prior to the game was really arrogance. An arrogant person cannot handle losing because they feel that losing is a shame. Confidence feels the weight of loss, but it also shoulders the responsibility to learn from mistakes it has made.
I don’t know what this means for Cam Newton as I write this today. It’s easy for many people to jump on a bandwagon of shame and hate and criticize this young man for some of his actions at the end of the game last night. For all of that, I would ask people to be careful at casting stones.
We are all on a journey, learning from our mistakes, having moments of self-realization, and picking up the pieces of a mighty fall brought on by our own pride. My hope, as I write this morning is not to knock a young man while he’s down, but to challenge the world to see the difference between an arrogant spirit and a confident one…and to change course.
If we are honest, we all have an arrogant streak. Sometimes age and wisdom help us to see that tendency and change it. Sometimes we have to take a hard look in the mirror and simply change.
Where are you on the spectrum between arrogant and confident? Can you tell the difference in your own life? What are you going to change about your reactions, your thoughts, your words, and your life to reflect a quiet confidence to others?
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