Sunday, November 9, 2014

Confidence vs. Cockiness

I’ve asked myself this question many times, “What is the difference between confidence and cockiness?”

Business owners and managers take note.  I’m beginning with a story, but I’m really talking to you (and myself).

A buddy of mine tried to be nice and bond with one of his kids by agreeing to coach his soccer team.  The team did not have a coach, and he took the spot to try and help.

BUT…There is a problem.

He doesn’t know very much about soccer.  So he asked me to help him (since at one time in my life, I was “The Soccer Guy.”)

The other night, the team had its first game, and we did not know ANY of the kids on the team…except for my buddy’s kid.

However, as I started to learn about the kids (with a ton more to learn, still), one specific kid really frustrated me.  One word that kept crossing my mind is “cocky.”  He’s a cocky kid…really cocky.

That got me thinking, what is the difference between confidence (good) and cockiness (not so good)?

Continuing to think about this kid, I realize that as an assistant coach, the only way I can really help is to remove as much emotion from situation as I can so that I can view it objectively.

So I started putting together a mental list of things about this kid that are good and things that aren’t so good.

The Good: I noticed that this kid is confident.  He does not seem like he’d get intimidated easily.  He seems aware of most of the situation around him.  He has some pretty good raw soccer talent; he’s fast enough and has some ability to dribble the ball, etc.

The Bad: This kid is cocky!  He thinks he’s the best player on the team.  He does not hustle, unless he thinks that he’s about to get the ball in a position where he thinks he might score a goal.  Most of all, he’s not (at this point) coachable.  He thinks he is better than he is.

I certainly don’t want to strip him of his confidence.  (Admittedly, I don’t think I could do that to this kid, even if I wanted.)  However, I would LOVE to strip away his cockiness.  It hurts the team, and I think that—eventually—it will hurt him.

Solving this kid is for me, but I’m mentioning it to you, because I realized that it’s a great opportunity to explore the answer to an important question.

What is the difference between confidence and cockiness?

For this post, I did not go to a dictionary for this, but I started thinking, and I realized there is something for most of us to learn.

What does it mean to be confident?

Here is my unofficial description of basic level confidence—bullet point style:
--Believing that you can be someone who is great
--Believing that you can accomplish or do something great
--Believing that you can make a difference
--Respecting what you have to offer today

Essentially, being confident—at its most basic level—means that you like what you have to offer today and see that you can offer more tomorrow.

This kid on the soccer team is pretty confident, and that’s a good thing.

What does it mean to be cocky?

Here is my unofficial description of cockiness—again, bullet point style:
--Believing that you’ve arrived BEFORE you really have
--Believing that you’re the only person who has something to offer
--Believing that you know and understand everything
--Having the arrogance to never ask yourself, “How can I get or be better?”

Does it seem like a cocky person has a good handle on reality?

The kid on the soccer team is pretty cocky, and that is not so good.  It’s not good either for the team or him.  If he gets better, the team gets better.  However, if he refuses to believe there is room for improvement, he’s blocking himself—and the team—from being able to get better.

After thinking about this a little more, I realize a couple of things.

Not having enough confidence = Not believing that you can be any better, because you don’t think you have the ability to improve.

Having too much confidence (cockiness) = not believing that you can be any better, because you think you have no room for improvement.

Business Owners and Managers

As business owners and managers, we make decisions all of the time.  Often, our outcomes depend on those decisions that we make.

The unconfident person acknowledges weaknesses and imperfections, but he (or she) does not believe anything can be done.  He has a good handle on what is happening but not such a good handle on believing that things can be addressed.

The cocky person does not even address those weaknesses and imperfections, because he refuses to acknowledge they exist.  You cannot address what you do not acknowledge.

The (truly) confident person is willing to acknowledge weaknesses and imperfections that exist.  He sees the threat within the situation but not to his confidence.  A confident person feels secure enough to get the information needed to make the best decision possible.

Making Good Decisions

How can someone do a good job of running a business if they REFUSE to see reality?

How can you make good decisions if you don’t have good information?

How can you get good information if you refuse to acknowledge all of that information?

It’s important to look at ourselves and realize the ways that we are not confident enough, because we limit ourselves.  However, it’s just as important to find the ways that we are being cocky, because we’re almost certainly making poor decisions since we’re working from incomplete (poor) information.

As a business owner or a manager, are we more interested in developing something great, or are we simply interested in being “right?”

I hope that you believe that you are great today and can do anything, but I also hope that you believe it’s possible for you to be even better tomorrow.  You’ll have access to even better information and insight tomorrow.  Make sure you’re not ignoring it.

In some ways, we all are.

Are you really as good today as you’ll ever be?  How can we be better tomorrow?

Have the confidence to know that you can get there.  Don’t be so cocky that you block yourself from getting there.

Your business depends on it, and so does the quality of your life.

3 Questions a Confident Person Always Asks

When you feel confident, you’re always looking for the answers to these questions:

1. How can I be better?
2. How can help the situation be better?
3. How can I help someone else be better?

Let’s hope that the kid on the soccer team begins asking himself these questions.  A cocky person never will.

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