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Friday, December 27, 2013

Thoughts On Arrogance

Why are most successful people arrogant?

I've always wondered this. Could it be that success requires a certain amount of bravado to grab attention?

[I would like to think that quality work would be more effective at grabbing attention than some blow-hard tooting his or her own horn.
But, I've been told I'm naive.]

So, giving people the benefit of the doubt that all that air of magnificence that many successful people carry around is not just a self marketing campaign, why are successful people often arrogant?

 Could it be that humans naturally gravitate to those who self adulate whenever there is some means to sustain the facade of grandeur?

[Fortunately for me and everybody else that has to deal with me, I personally can't sustain such a facade for long. Having even a crumb of scientific knowledge reminds me in short order of the many messy biological imperatives that we all face on a regular basis. But somehow this doesn't seem to be an effective deterrent against arrogance for many.]

The reason I'm really concerned with this topic is my worry that if I ever do become successful, [say as a writer or a famous geriatric Olympic athlete or something,] how could I avoid the arrogance pitfall so prevalent among successful people in general and writers in particular?

That leads me to a related question. It is my experience that certain groups of people: singers, writers, scientists, lawyers, politicians etc., are particularly susceptible to the arrogance trap. [I consider myself at least an amateur scientist, and my husband informs me that I sometimes fail to avoid this trap already. So I may be prone to arrogance, but definitely don't want to be arrogant.] Since I am seeking to become at least published, I feel a need to figure out what makes writers prone to arrogance.

Does having a way with words make one feel like they have a unique spot in the heavens? [Perhaps everyone feels that way, and writers just know how to express it better? Perhaps it is just a matter of honesty; a requirement of good writing as much as it is a requirement of good humor. Mind you, I am not saying writers are more honest about having a unique place among the stars, but perhaps they are more honest about feeling like they have.]

Cedar Waxwings
Perhaps it is having an audience that makes successful writers arrogant. Does having people listen to what one has to say make one feel like they are more worth while and above average?

Or perhaps it is a matter of simple transference of the value of the message to the value of the messenger?

Are writers expecting to be wined and dined because the message they are given to carry is well received?

[Well, messengers are not surprised if they are shot after delivering a poorly received message hence the phrase “Don't shoot the messenger”, so it would not be surprising to expect gratitude for good news. And if this is the source of the danger of arrogance for writers, then I'll just be extra vigilant against said transference. But I suspect there is more to the danger than transference.]

This leads me to a related question. Is writing just the deliverance of a preset message?

Clearly writers shape the message and hone the delivery of what they write. Any messenger does that. But what is the ultimate source of the message?
That brings us to a new topic for future post: inspiration.


Chris said...

Wow, I've never felt that most successful writers (or other people) are arrogant. Makes me wonder who you've been considering. I don't know the personal side of most authors, so I can't offer a list of counter examples. In the entertainment business, it seems easy to find plenty of successful people who are labeled as humble. So would you cite some examples of arrogance? And is it harder to cite examples of humility? I suspect that the respected ones who are (or were) arrogant had always been that way, but it's overlooked because of their genius.

BTW, if you ever become an arrogant "famous geriatric Olympic athlete", I'll be sure to remind you of your "messy biological imperatives" :-) Nice picture of the toilet paper - strangely artistic!

KC Trae Becker said...

Thanks Chris for calling me on this. I'm going on my personal experiences mostly from my teenage years. That's pretty slim experience to offer comments on so wide a group of people. Thanks for helping me see that.
And your offer to remind me if I ever become arrogant... I'll hold you to that.