Arrogance (per Merriam-Webster online): an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.
I watched a gentleman at a public event recently. He stood erect and with a firm handshake and steady gaze. I met him and was unsure of his demeanor. I noted identifying patches on his biker's vest, well-worn and years of journey told. He had seen many things, of that I was sure - some good - many not I suspected. He had that faraway look in his eyes, not quite making eye contact but able to stare you down in a single glance. That comes with seasons, with self-confidence.
I watched him walk amidst the group and make casual jokes, pleasant commentaries, and discuss protocol. The longer he walked I noticed his stance: not self-confident at all! Rather, an arrogant posture. I was taken aback, saddened, disheartened, unimpressed, and put-off all in one breath.
What is the difference? Sometimes the two are hard to distinguish. If you go back and re-read the definitions of each, you will be reminded like I was that they are very different indeed. You see, a person can be arrogant due to his or her self-confidence level, or that same person can be arrogant because of a lack of self-confidence (in my opinion) trying to hide that person's weakness in leadership. A person need not be a leader to be self-confident, but a self-confident leader is an excellent asset to any organization. An arrogant leader will undermine the morale of the followers quickly; an arrogant follower will end up ostracized from the group altogether.
Are you arrogant? Are you self-confident? Are you insecure? Given the choice, I would aim for self-confidence. Not an easy trait to obtain or maintain in today's world but very worthwhile. That is one of the items on my criteria list for a good leader, be it of a local church committee, a child's teacher, a corporation, or the President of the United States.
This year, 2012, is a presidential election year here in the USA. We need a president who is self-confident, who is a good leader, strong in beliefs and intellect, and able to confidently carry forth weighty decisions. We do not need arrogance; we do not need a president who tells us what a great job he /she is doing and has done, but rather one who lets his/her record speak for itself. We need a leader who is not intimidated by criticism, who does not easily questions his/her own decisions, and who is willing to look to the right venues for guidance when the answer is not clear. We need a president who can lead without claiming the glory for others' as his/her own. We need a president who can stand up and say, "Not on my watch, because I have the privilege of leading the greatest nation on earth!" (passing along the glory to something greater than him/herself, or to someone who may appear lesser in rank, such as a civilian or lowly-ranked military person)
Would you choose an arrogant person or a self-confident person for a dinner companion? for a Sunday School teacher? for a spouse? for a local sheriff? for a local business owner? for a director of a charity that benefits a sick child? for your President?
As you look at those considered to be "the contenders" / "THE candidates" in the 2012 presidential election, consider their levels of arrogance versus their levels of self-confidence. Would you want any of them to teach your child in Sunday School? or be your local sheriff? or be your spouse? or be running your local grocery store? or directing a charity that might benefit your sick child? If you can't picture "THE candidates" in any of those roles, it may be time to rethink who is helping get them into candidate position and if we want them to be elected at all.
Do you want a self-confident president or an arrogant president? The choice is yours, it belongs to you, the American People.