blogitto ergo sum

December 15, 2010

#164 – not the book of arrogance

Filed under: Uncategorized — yael [ya-el] wagner @ 16:47
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When I was confused by some of the responses to my Slicha, a couple of friends pointed out that admitting mistakes and asking for forgiveness may be hard on some people, apparently harder than I imagined.  Doubtful at first, I found out they were right.  For some, admitting a mistake is so hard they rather risk destroying relationships, losing friendships, losing respect…  I don’t dig it, but I know it’s there.

Today, between migraine and annoyance, I noticed that often enough, the inability to admit a mistake is tightly linked to arrogance.  Thinking of recent encounters with both, you can be rest-assured that I won’t be writing “the book of arrogance”.  Not only it may be a universal long-term CLM, but also it is unlikely to generate or lead to a desired change or even a minor improvement.

Arrogance, I must say, is not all bad.  In moderation, just like self-confidence, it is a great thing; the leverage one needs for one to make things happen.  This is what I think of as the good healthy arrogance.

Good arrogance is the [over-]confidence that gives one the strength, motivation and stamina to focus on achieving a goal, defeat all obstacles and objections, push against the odds, have the passion and firm belief that you are indeed going to get IT done, and done WELL.

Bad arrogance is the firm belief, over-confident attitude that one has about one’s wisdom, brilliance, being mistake-free, infallible, second to none, above all… you know who I’m talking about, the superior being that we should all worship, never challenge with questions, never doubt, and hold high, higher above the tablets.

In a normal blog, not to say an essay, this is the part in which I should share with you some examples, personal experience, not to say traumas I observed and endured as the differentiation between the two was growing in my mind.  This, however, will be a classic CLM.

Instead, I hereby admit, thus confirming your suspicion, that I caught myself, unfortunately more than once, falling into the trap of bad arrogance.  One of my challenges is to do it less, much less. In a perfect world, I’d wish I didn’t do it at all.  Ever.  And you can help of course.

Remember the Hyderabad driver that asked me about my status?

He also gave me a piece of feedback that warmed my heart.  We were sharing his car for 48 hours, from a late night landing through two days to an even later departure.

On the way to the airport to drop me off, the guy said, “you are different.”

Great, I thought, exactly what I need to hear after the single-hood reminder.  “What do you mean?” I asked, waiting for yet another punch at my core. “The others don’t talk to me” he said.  “Never.  And you did”.

If he only knew.  And then I figured he should know.  I took  a deep breath.  “You know”, I told him; “there’s a reason why I spoke with you, even when I was tired and not so interested.  When you picked me up two nights ago, you talked about how you learned all your English from your passengers, how you practice it, try to improve it.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Well, this is something I respect in a very big way.  Anyone who tries to better himself, anyone who wants to get more of life than the hand originally dealt to one, earns my respect.  So yes, there were times that I wanted to tell you that I’m tired, lean back and sink into my own thoughts, but I didn’t.”

His thanks, warm and candid, were a boon I neither expected nor felt I deserved.  After another moment of hesitation, I decided to remind him his lesson from that morning. The previous night I asked him to run an errand after repeatedly asking him if he think he could do it.  “No problem” he assured me.  In the morning I found out that he didn’t do it.  I wasn’t happy.  His statement “when you are not happy, I’m not happy” didn’t help.  Not two hours later, not knowing the answer to a question I asked, the guy chose to make up one, and got “caught”.  He then got a piece of my mind how “I don’t know” will get him respect, while BS-ing will get him often enough, in trouble.  A couple of hours later, his answer to a question was a moment of silence, followed by “I don’t know.”  The fact that he was able to say it, even if this is the only time he’ll  ever admit to not knowing, was my true reward.  Reminded with that, I hope he’ll do it again.  And yet, I admit, I don’t know.

Arrogant of me to assume that I can change a cultural habit, a life-long habit?  Sure.  Trying to do it, believing that there’s a chance that I will.  Good arrogance.

Clipart credits:×0.jpg

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