Confidence Rules

LeBron James said his NBA playing career will earn him a spot on the sport’s Mt. Rushmore, so today he’s being pilloried for being arrogant.

That gives me an excuse to cover a topic that really fascinates me: What is arrogance?

For most people, arrogance is confidence on steroids. I disagree. I don’t think one is an excess of the other. I think they’re two different things.

To me confidence is how you view yourself, and arrogance is how you view other people.

After all, it’s quite possible to think you’re a wonderful, charming, intelligent human being, while simultaneously believing that there are others who are wonderful, charming and intelligent. This is the mindset of confident men and women everywhere.

If, however, you think you’re so wonderful that other people are beneath you and incapable of grasping your excellence, you’re arrogant. (And a little bit of a turd.)

There are a couple other rules about confidence. First, there’s the old saw that, “It’s not bragging if you can do it.” Obviously, if you overestimate your ability, you’re not confident, you’re delusional.

And it’s not enough to be good at something, you must also be doing good. A businessman who is proud of the wealth he made, if he cheated honest men and women out of their money, is not confident; he’s a parasite. A serial killer who thinks highly of his skill as a murderer is not confident; he’s a psychopath.

So is LeBron James arrogant for believing he belongs on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore?

Maybe–on this occasion–a little bit, since he exalts himself at the expense of Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and some other pretty darn impressive players. However, in the past, he’s expressed more gratitude for players who set the foundations of the league than many others, so perhaps LeBron’s reputation for arrogance, at least, shouldn’t be set in stone.


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