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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Confidence Formula

How would you define the difference between arrogance and confidence?

I recently was intrigued by a LinkedIn post by Beth Collins which explored the issue of accomplished women downplaying their success for fear of appearing conceited. There's probably not many out there (men and women alike) who haven't experienced this inner conflict to some degree.

It's easy make a research project out of this self-confidence issue by simply studying kids–if you happen to have any nearby. One of my kids seems to be blessed with an abundance of it. The other has her days. Yes–Mr. Confidence happens to be the boy. They're both talented and loved equally. And I thought we had raised them similarly, but I wonder. Have I reacted differently or taught them to respond differently at certain, critical developmental stages?

Cole has a healthy opinion of himself. Very healthy. If either of us has been gone, and I tell him I missed him, he always responds with, "I'm sure you did." I know he's joking. Sort of. But I'm sure my giggle confirms his conclusion. But the kid definitely feels good about his place in the world. He typically has a story about an amazing feat he's done. Heck, just the other day he beat his sister and his mother playing a wicked game of one-on one in basketball. That is amazing. He told me and I agreed.

Alex, on the other hand, has not put herself on that same pedestal. She hardly gives herself credit when it's very much due. A "1" on her vocal contest solo? Not that big of deal. The judge must've been easy on me. State history essay award winner?Yeah. Didn't make it to nationals though. Did I teach my daughter to respond this way? A daughter who won't recognize herself for her own achievements?


No one wants to be construed as arrogant. But I really want my children to understand it's more than okay to be proud of their achievements. In my opinion, arrogance only occurs once a person has used their prestige, money, or accomplishments to make another person feel badly. Perhaps this is why many people (especially women) choose the route of self-deprecation–to ensure no hard feelings. But a problem occurs with this–we begin to negate our self-value. It doesn't have to work this way.

Most people would agree that confidence generally equates to happiness. Confidence comes from many things. Achieving a personal goal. Trying your best. Being loved unconditionally. Some people have a need to express this level of happiness once they've attained a certain level of confidence. Some do not. Neither is wrong, but sometimes communicating our own achievements can be helpful–whether seeking opportunities or affirming our capability.
When we feel comfortable with our level of confidence, we feel the same level of happiness for others when they exude confidence as well. This is the best way to defeat jealousy and ill-will. It's a wonderful, un-vicious circle. This is the best reason to promote self-confidence in our kids and ourselves.

My kids' expressions when I'm providing life lessons.