I’m Arrogant! 14 Principles I Use To Reduce My Arrogance

I recently presented a Keynote titled “The 8 Attributes of Character Defined in Great Leaders”.  The talk was not intended to identify past and present Great Leaders, although there are many, rather it was designed to provide information so individuals could evaluate their current character and consider the adjustments required to achieve the character needed to become a Great Leader.

In the talk, I identified “Humility” as being one of the attributes found in Great Leaders.   Leaders are typically those who have ambition, are talented and confident when making decisions and interacting with people.  But I bet when most of us think of leaders, we don’t typically describe them with the word “humility” or use the term, “humble.”  If they did, it might not be viewed as a compliment.

One of the toughest things about teaching and speaking on leadership topics is the conscience guilt that follows you around when you are not following your own words, principles, and practices you teach or talk about. This is something I really appreciate. Because it drives me to always look at ways I can increase my influence and become a better leader.

As I continue to evaluate my leadership and my approach to people, problems, and solutions, I find myself dealing with a little of arrogance and pride. I believe I would consider myself just a bit arrogant.  Well, maybe even a bit more than a bit, depending on who you talk to.

Male manager calling his colleague

So I have been focusing on how I lessen my arrogance and replace it with more humility? The identified 14 principles that help me to lessen my arrogance and focus on my humility. It is a work in progress, and I often slip back one or two steps. But I feel it’s working.

  1. Don’t think of someone else when reading this blog.
  2. Recognize your arrogance.
  3. Know what you don’t know and admit it.
  4. Step in someone’s else’s shoes that you interact with on a daily basis and those who interact periodically.
  5. Dig deep into not so positive feedback.
  6. Acknowledge those who helped you get where you are or where you are going.
  7. Shut up and listen!
  8. Engage in conversations by asking questions.
  9. Walk around looking for things to celebrate.
  10. Quickly admit when you are wrong.
  11. Be quick to forgive and show grace to others.
  12. Be purposeful in speaking well about others.
  13. Take a seat at the lower table.
  14. Focus on strengthening relationships, not just results.

The great college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

C.S. Lewis said this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

 I believe humility is the antidote to arrogance. Arrogance will cause a person to fall and ultimately fail.  Humility will cause a person to rise as they fail.  People want to follow humble leaders.

So I end with a bit of a hope……May you make an everyday choice to lessen your arrogance and give credit where credit is due and acknowledge others for your success.  May you admit when you are wrong and know what you don’t know.

 If we can honestly accomplish this, then we can continue our growth as leaders.  But never forget this, IT’s NOT ABOUT YOU………..IT REALLY ISN’T!!!

Humility wooden sign on a beautiful day

TIPS TO GET BETTER AT SMALL TALK

Women drinking coffeeI recently published a blog titled, “8 Personal Habits That Will Ensure A Good First Impression.” Number 8 on that list was “Initiate Relevant Small Talk”.  I discuss the need for relevant small talk and how it can create a connection and lead to building a relationship.  Effective small talk can provide clues in providing a deeper understanding of that person.

Recently I came across an article titled; “15 Tips to Get Better at Small Talk”written by Patti Johnson with SUCCESS Online.

I wanted to share it with you as I found it to be a great companion article addressing the issue of small talk.

1. Get your mind right.

If you spend the week anticipating and worrying because you know you will feel uncomfortable, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Remember why you are going—to celebrate a friend on his or her special day, to meet others who share your interest or connect with your co-workers.

2. Decide who you’d like to meet before you go.

Take a look at who else will be there and plan to meet those who might share something in common. This might be someone who knows a mutual friend, a fellow baseball fan or a business owner living your dream.

3. Make a game out of it.

Trick your mind into making it seem easier and more fun. Commit to at least an hour. Plan to meet at least five people.   Challenge yourself to learn two new things  This mind shift can help tame the anxiety and make the conversation more fun.

4. Take responsibility for meeting others.

Don’t wait for others to approach you. Say hello first. When you expect others to make the first move, you’ll be disappointed. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.

5. Don’t be the sidekick.

Rather than being the shadow of the one person you already know, branch out.

6. Have your “go-to” questions ready.

Starting a conversation with a new person can be hard. Try, “How do you know _____?” “What is keeping you busy these days?” or “What brought you to this area?” It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something to get you started if you you’re new acquaintances.

7. Be interested. Listen more than you talk.

Asking questions is the secret ingredient to interesting conversations.  Stay away from yes/no questions. You can naturally start with easy questions that feel natural, but listen for an interesting comment to explore and build upon.

As an example for how your questions might flow:

  •  How do you know Allison?
  •  I didn’t realize you were a graphic designer. What kind of design do you do?
  •  Why did you decide to get into graphic design?
  •  Oh, I went to school in Miami, too! Where are your favorite places to go when you go back?
  •  Do you think of Miami as home? How did you make the move from there to here?

Within a few questions, you can move to more substance and a real conversation.

8. Be yourself!Business people discussing

No one likes the fake networker. In the interest of being more outgoing, don’t be someone you aren’t. Putting out effort doesn’t mean being fake.

9. Compliment and shift.

Find something that you can genuinely compliment the other person on and then shift to a question so it isn’t awkward.

10. Plan a graceful exit.

Every conversation runs its course, but a natural end is hard. Just say, “It’s been great to meet you, and I hope you have the best vacation next week.” Excuse yourself to do something else and move on.

11. Look for others who want to connect.

I recently went to a large celebration event and only knew the busy host. I noticed another guest taking her time at the snack table and introduced myself. We had a great conversation while those around us caught up with longtime friends.

12. Be an introducer.

If you are talking with someone and another guest looks a little uncomfortable, invite him or her into the conversation. Remember the times when you were that uncomfortable person and try to include others.

13. Don’t be the “hammer looking for the nail.”

Your favorite topic isn’t everyone else’s. You might love your new grill or your favorite book or TV show, but don’t assume everyone else is interested. Gauge the conversation and flow with it.

14. Don’t expect too much.

Not every get-together will result in new friends. That’s OK. You still accomplished your goal of going when it was easier not to—you were there supporting a friend or a co-worker. And that is enough.

15. Get in the habit.

Don’t constrain this habit to social events. Say hello to the person next to you on the plane before you grab your headphones (I’m working on this). Talk to your waiter. Ask your Uber driver about his day. The habit of saying hello and listening is a muscle you can develop by working on it every day.

Try some small talk. You might be surprised where it takes you.