Skip to content

Debbie Millman on the Nonsense of Confidence

I used to work with someone who we’ll call Arrogant Zack. You know Arrogant Zack. He’s always the loudest guy in the room. His voice echoes across the office. He doesn’t let another person get a word in at meetings. When he speaks, his words ooze with confidence.

Emphasis on the word ooze, because there’s nothing pleasant about working with Zack.

Legendary designer Debbie Millman recently said that there is little difference between confidence and arrogance. People who are overtly confident have one superpower in common: they annoy the people around them.

In the recent Tribe of Mentors book, Debbie mentions her conversation with writer Dani Shapiro:

Confidence is highly overrated…most overly confident people were really annoying. And the most confident people were usually arrogant…a sure sign that a person was compensating for some type of internal psychological deficit.

It makes me think of my moments of confidence. Were people letting me speak because of their appreciation of me, or because they didn’t want to bother engaging the loud mouth?

So what is the alternative to confidence? How do you succeed without pushing good people away? With courage, according to Millman:

You are not waiting for confidence to mysteriously arrive…you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want.

Confidence comes from comfort. Been there done that. Little growth happens in comfort. Courage means stepping out of the comfort zone, and there a person can find their next evolution.

For more thoughts on confidence and discomfort, take a walk over to the Level Up Challenge.

Published inLearn

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply