Defining Success

I suppose this entry is written for the person who is starting in a new position. Or, maybe this is for the young person who is just starting out. This is for the young entrepreneur who wants to make a dent in the business world. Then again, I suppose this fits anyone in life. Or, perhaps this is an entry from the old me to the new me. Better yet, this is for anyone in need of clarity. This is to define some of the important behaviors that help create our personal success.

I want to circle back to the ideas of comfort. Work is mostly social. There are situations that deviate from the norm but mostly, we work with other people. We interact. We professionally socialize and play the political game, maybe we “kiss the ring,” so-to-speak and interact with coworkers and supervisors. Our interpersonal skills are important. The way we behave and carry ourselves and the way we perform are the keys to reaching our best level of potential.

I want to take a moment to discuss the difference between confidence and arrogance and the struggle to identify the difference between the two. I want to look into our flaws. I want to understand defects of character, which we all have. However, I want to look into understanding them more so they become less of a concern.

I have listened to discussions of Martial Arts professionals who discussed the perfection of their art form. They discussed the way they improved by focusing on their weaknesses until their weaknesses become their strengths. As I write this to you, I was thinking about an interview with a famous bodybuilder who discussed his weakest parts and how he dedicated time to improve his weaknesses until they became strengths. I think about this as it relates to our interpersonal skills. I think about the social challenges people face and how their personal flaws can degrade their best efforts to reach for the top.

The dictionary defines confidence as full trust or belief in one’s self. This is the person who understands what they know and what they don’t know—but more, this is the person who shows a sense of comfortability in themselves. They’re okay with suggestions and accepting of feedback and constructive criticism. This is confidence.

Confidence is a walk into a room without feeling threatened. This is a state of mind and personal understanding. There is an attractive sense of calmness here. There is an awareness and knowledgeable understanding. On the other side of this is discomfort. This is where arrogance creeps in as if to impersonate a display of confidence. However, while confidence reflects comfort; arrogance reflects discomfort. This is a sense of fear and insecurity. Rather than face a challenge with humility; arrogance scoffs at this with a false display of security.

This is why taking our personal inventory is important.
Why do we talk?
Everything we say or do is done to honor a need, a thought, a want, feeling, emotion or desire. This means everything we say or do is said or done with an intention that honors the above. By understanding our thinking, we understand our need to honor our thoughts to find comfort.

There are times when insecurity is thick. There are times when we want to seem as if we know the answer. In which case, there are times when we speak in an almost self-important or way of forced-confidence to prove that we know what we are talking about. This is when arrogance looks to outrun the scent of our own fear. However, arrogance is a “Tell.” This is our insecurity screaming out for protection. Therefore, this degrades our best efforts to reach for an optimal level.

It is possible to be highly educated and not always know the answer. It is equally possible to be successful and humble. It is not only possible but more so, it is attractive to be an executive and interact with mid level and junior roles. Anything else would be a predicament of self; in which case, our arrogance is covering for our sense of self-worth.

When I was young, I spoke as a young man spoke.
I am a fan of the quote, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child spoke, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man (or woman or whichever you may identify as) I put all of those childish things behind me.”
Sometimes, grownups are more childish than any kid in the sandbox.

Understanding ourselves is an important step towards our professional maturity. Understanding our little quirks and insecurities is what allows us an understanding that teaches us why we think or react. This also allows us a better understanding of other people. Furthermore, by understanding personal inventory, this allows the comfort of not taking people too personally because at last, we understand their behavior is a reflection of them and not us.

Ask yourself something: Have you ever found yourself talking to someone and the voice in your mind starts asking you, “Why are you even talking about this? None of this is important and who are you trying to impress anyway?”
This would reveal a social discomfort. However, by coaching ourselves to understand our discomforts, we can learn to navigate away from our uncomfortable responses. This would solve the arrogance and, in fact, this would strengthen our confidence.

To date, understanding myself and finding comfort was one of my difficult challenges throughout my career. I was afraid to be seen as someone who didn’t know the answer. I wanted to be important to the team and therefore, whenever I thought my importance was questionable; I found myself responding arrogantly; as if to say “Look at me and all the good things I do!”
This was not helpful to me.

This is why people virtue signal. This is why people brag about their own greatness. This has nothing to do with them being confident in their abilities. This is about them not being comfortable within themselves.

But wait . . .
What happens when a boss puts us on the spot? What happens when we need to have an answer but we don’t? I agree this is a tough spot to be in but honesty and confidence will never be outshone by arrogance and bullshit. People see through this and of course, the hole we dig will only go deeper.

The main objective to success is to be comfortable. This is more than an example of finances. This is about life as a whole; to be comfortable, to feel good and to be happy with who we are, as we are. This is what success is all about.

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