Perhaps, nay with certitude, it is an indisputable truth that arrogance is a trait that resides and has a permanent abode in a diseased mind. This ailment is largely incurable; very few can free themselves from its enticing clutches. Arrogance of this disease causes anger, harbouring of ill will, a sense of pride and a general trait that responds negatively.
All those who work hard to come under spotlight, invariably rising from being unknown commodities to being the sought after, are most prone to become arrogant. Individuals, who acquire popularity and stardom, whether be it in dramas, films, sports or even politics, tend to generally forget their own humble beginnings; consequent to the attention they receive from the eye of the camera, swells the estimation of their own selves, to the degree that such become an epitome of arrogant behaviour. Nobody can say that our leader is a humble man; he always has been downright arrogant; and on the slip side, none can say that Sattar Edhi or Mother Teresa were arrogant individuals; they led a life of absolute humility. Arrogance takes away and de-robes the noble soul of its divine emotion of caring and respecting others.
From where does arrogance emerge? Is it an in-born trait? Does it reflect a genetic default? Let’s analyse.
Arrogance in a person can be a characteristic due to multiple and varied reasons, not limited to, but could include being filthy rich, (regardless of whether earned or inherited; also with complete disregard to whether it was acquired legitimately or through corruption); possession of knowledge and information; high intellect, positional power held (like being a public office holder or even a CEO/senior management person in a corporate entity); naturally blessed with good physical looks (handsome or beautiful); and the most lethal of reason of arrogance to be present in a person, is sometimes a self-centred belief, the one is humble.
Here, the devilish mind plays tricks on the arrogant person, where they are infused with the thought that humility is their forte for recognition. Arrogance is at its zenith, where the arrogant is filled with the pride that they’re humble--- this is most dangerous, arrogance of humility. A close concept of arrogance of piety!
In the corporate environment, it is the progressive decline in values that gives ascendency to rise upto reaching the pinnacle of arrogance.
Those who meet business targets are recognised through increments in emoluments, bonuses and promotions. If there is consistency in meeting business targets, such individuals are bestowed with repeated promotions in the context of grades; like an officer who does well on a sustained basis will rise to become manager, deputy manager, general manager and so forth. This vertical movement on the corporate ladder is rarely matched with corresponding growth in the horizon of thinking; this itself is good enough reason for arrogant thoughts to occupy the greater part of the mind. The upward movement on the hierarchy must induce broadening of thought spectrum to bring around the required maturity to handle with grace, dignity and responsibility, the demands of the office held. Due to mollycoddling of these ‘performers’ by the powers that be, leads to demonstration of indiscipline - they flaunt company rules blatantly, because of the arrogant assurance, that none can correct them, because of their major contribution to the bottom line. There is no development of managerial competencies while on the pathway of movement to higher designations/offices. This results in the massive self deception by the ‘performer’, who inculcates within feelings of being ‘better than others’ or the rest of the team. Pride sets in. Arrogance is a major bulkward against the intrusion of positive thinking; it refutes truth and promotes falsehood.
Have witnessed as part of my own experience of dealing with various levels of hierarchy, that both aspects of the immediate bloating of colleagues, as a consequence of great performance, and then of the tragic ending of these most cases, with a major deflation of the hot air of pride and arrogance.
This transition from being a nuclear performer to declining recognition is obviously painful to the recipient. The affliction of this traumatic feeling can lead to developing pangs of depression, haughtiness of emotions, aggression in behaviour, lowered self esteem, heightened egotism of self pity that has potential to land an individual on to the suicidal zone.
Human history teaches us that no arrogant individual or leader has survived the onslaught of time that inflicts degeneration of all that has worldly glory, be it pelf or power. Nature has its own ways of retribution to restore equilibrium.
How does arrogance in individuals manifest itself? Arrogance has many forms, faces and facets, it can emerge from a variety of sources. It exhibits itself through the manner a person conducts himself/herself . Arrogance can be expressed through speech, silence and many other characteristics of the personality. Speaking pompously, where the letter , ‘I’ , remains the predominant reoccurring factor or choosing to remain silent, not as a positive matter of choice, but to portray better wisdom, intellect or intelligence are some major indicators of the presence of arrogance in a person. The way and manner, one dresses; the penchant and indirect display of wearing designer items are also few manifestations of some formats of arrogance. Nothing wrong to dress in expensive designer clothes, it is the flaunting of it that indicates pride. The seeds of arrogance actually germinate only after the individual has acquired success in some form. The feeling of superiority is a sense numbing intoxication.
An arrogant colleague can be loud and soft in conversation; the fact he/she can move with ease on this axis of behaviour is a major indication of their state of mind; benumbed by the anaesthesia of pride.
The greatest wish of an arrogant manager/leader is believed to be able to die in his/her own arms. Recognition gives an uncanny ability to the arrogant(s) to look in the mirror and say who could be that smart, handsome beautiful and intelligent person, standing before! An actor of prominence of the current era, in an interview said, “each morning I look in the mirror and say, who is this beautiful person?". Reading that I feared for the actor - who within a year’s time went through a dirty divorce! This is prevalence of arrogance over emotions of love.
Arrogance converses only with itself. Dorthy Parker said, she’s always nice to her inferiors, whenever she can find them!
A trait or characteristic called, “ego” deceives us all, all the time. Those who manage to tame it, avoid falling into dungeons of arrogance. Ego lures. Those who carry large reservoir of arrogant traits ultimately display ego-maniac tendencies. “People who pretend they are superior make it so much harder for those of us who really are” (Hyacinth Bucket). Arrogance, when identified will most likely react with, I am not arrogant ask anybody “worth” asking!
There are a minimum of two components of pride; the first one doesn't permit self praise and the other, it cannot accept any other to be good. “The proud man places himself at a distance from other men; seen through that distance, others perhaps appear little to him, but what is forgotten conveniently is that this very distant causes him to appear little, too.”
Humility is the opposite of arrogance. If it arises only in adversity then that humbleness is false. True humility leaves indelible legacy because by its virtue of humbleness, it creates hope in adversity and comfort in conflict. It is foolish to pretend to be humble, because no one anyway is great to become humble.
Only when the chips are down, does humility seem to be a matter of choice to many. Getting a standing ovation under 1000 watt spotlight can never be enduring; it will come to an end. Applause will ultimately stop, so never let it beguile towards arrogance. It must remain in focus that success has immediate friends, who depart at the very first drop of a shower of non recognition.
No lion remains young, they all get old - that's when the hyenas chase the lion and make mockery of the arrogance of the king of the jungle – hyenas relish the meat of a dead lion – the fact that the once ferocious lion is chased by a dwarf hyena is a sight for deep reflection- arrogance of youth perishes, too. The corporate world in particular and the environment in general has its lions and hyenas.
The lesson to be drawn is that a humble disposition both in success and in challenging circumstances, is most desirable. The need is for an indomitable will to remain humble. That's all.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist