Then There Was The Time I Was An Arrogant Jerk…


I would know. There was one time where I acted like a real arrogant jerk.

Sorry, three was not just one time. It was a way of being for me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but arrogance was my standard operating system. I wanted so badly to be validated, acknowledged and paid attention to that I did whatever I could to make that happen. I would slip my accomplishments into conversations. I would roll my eyes at anything I didn’t agree with. I believed that anyone who disagreed with me was against me.

All of this was because I was afraid.

Deeply afraid.

I was afraid that others would see that I was struggling and that I didn’t know everything I needed to succeed. I was afraid that others had advantages I did not have. I was afraid of the mistakes that I had made in the past. I was afraid that I just wasn’t enough and didn’t have enough to be of value to others.

So for almost a decade and a half in the early part of my career, I overcompensated with my words and actions to create a smokescreen around me so that others couldn’t find out I was afraid.

Here’s the catch that I didn’t know: everyone could tell.

You see, we think we are hiding our BS really well from others, but it is as plain as the nose on our face. Everyone can see it, and everyone can feel it.

I often joke during my keynotes that I am a recovering arrogant jerk. And like anyone in recovery, you can slide back into your old habits FAST if you are not diligent and working against your addiction. My addiction was affirmation and I can easily find myself fearful that I am not enough and thus imply, coerce, and hint to get some form of affirmation for my success.

And then I go back to the strategies that I outlined in Mic Check: am I doing this exclusively for myself? Or am I showcasing my ideas and talents for the benefit of others?

Look, all of us are going to be arrogant at some point or another. It is just the line we toe every time we are in a situation where we have experience and expertise.

The key is checking our intention. Were my intentions aligned with serving others?

And here’s the last key element: if you are asking yourself that question, it is likely you are not falling down the arrogant side of the line.

Yes, practice humility. And recognize that if your intention is to serve others, arrogance won’t be a factor in your impact.




Confidence and arrogance are closely tied to one crucial factor: fear. When we fear others discovering our weaknesses, we tend to boast, not to help others, but to mask our insecurities. True confidence, though, stems from a different source. Click below to learn more.


Confidence comes from being able to respond to your environment. However, if we are not honest with ourselves and others, having confidence and leading others is nearly impossible, especially as a professional public speaker. Click below to learn more about differentiating between the two.