What is the difference between being confident versus arrogant? For most people that’s a tough question to answer, suggesting the two are remarkably similar. If, however, confidence and arrogance are similar, why is it that most people think of confidence in favorable ways, while viewing arrogance as a personality flaw? In some ways the differences between confidence and arrogance appear to be subtle, but when it comes to the mindset needed to be successful confidence is definitely king.
Confidence is linked to success, arrogance not so much…
Psychologists have consistently found that self-efficacy is directly related to the level of success a person experiences at a task. What is self-efficacy you ask? Self-efficacy is a theory developed by Dr. Al Bandura of Stanford, and can more simply be described as your confidence level in yourself as you engage in an activity. Simply put, if you feel confident you can perform well on a test or successfully shoot free throws on a basketball court, you will perform better than if you had little confidence in doing those activities. Confidence is not a substitute for preparation, but what confidence appears, at minimum, to do is minimize anxiety, thereby allowing for better muscle-memory and focus.
Arrogance is an extreme form of confidence that manifests as over-confidence. There are many problems with over-confidence, including poor focus, lacking preparation, and even poor resiliency.
How to develop confidence for future success
Since we know confidence is important as it applies to future success, it makes a lot of sense to learn how to increase confidence. A few ideas coaches and athletes can consider include the following:
- Set goals. There is perhaps no better way to build confidence than to actually witness personal goals being met. Set specific, measurable, controllable goals and follow your progress to the end — with each goal attained your confidence will improve as well.
- Read autobiographies. When we learn about how others found success it often inspires us to do the same. There are countless autobiographies to read where we can learn firsthand what it takes to be the best, and with this new information confidence usually improves as a result.
- Review personal data. Sometimes we make improvements that are slow and subtle, making it difficult to see results. Take time out to compare where you are today to last month, 6 months ago, last year, and even a couple of years ago. Are your skills trending in a positive direction?
- Keep a journal. Serious athletes write down key information on a daily basis so that they can see personal growth – try and get in the habit of keeping your own personal journal so you can witness increases in size, speed, strength, and other key data.
How to reel in arrogance
Athletes run the risk of becoming arrogant, or “cocky,” especially when they find consistent success. Arrogance can lead to poor performance as it provides an artificial sense of safety that the athlete is invincible and cannot be beat. Arrogant athletes sometimes blow off training, don’t take the competition serious, and leave themselves open to upsets as a result. If you think healthy confidence has spilled over into unhealthy arrogance, consider the following ideas.
- Review history. Find examples of athletes and teams that saw their arrogance result in a devastating loss and present them to your team.
- Anybody can lose. Remind yourself that on any given day you can lose, and that in many cases those losses can be avoided by being mentally tough and ready to go. Arrogant athletes are not always ready to go, and that’s the reason they lose when they shouldn’t.
- It’s not a respectful look. If you want to carry yourself with integrity and respect your opponents at all times, then being arrogant will not help along that pursuit. Have ongoing discussions about the ways in which you present yourself and how others view you — are you displaying healthy sportsmanship, or making the opponent look bad through your words and actions?
Confidence and arrogance may not seem much different from one another, but don’t be misled. Confidence is very important to develop, while arrogance can lead to poor training, upsets, and even dissension on the team. Set specific future goals, respect your opponent, and play as hard as you can and you’ll likely reach your full potential as a result.