150 – When A Man Gets Too Cocky

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Today I want to talk about something that happened to me very recently…today actually.  Without going into great detail…I was performing a skilled task in a professional setting.  It was a task I had performed flawlessly many times before and it was something that came easily to me.

I was asked to demonstrate this task for some other people that were learning how to do it, and I happily obliged.  Problem was…when I went to do it I totally screwed it up the first time.  I was shocked and dumbfounded!  How did this happen?

It was embarrassing, but I quickly regained composure and then I executed the task flawlessly three more times.  When I was asked later what happened I thought about it for a minute and then replied as honestly as I could.

“I got cocky” was my response, and it was the truth…I had gained so much confidence with this task that I began to underestimate it.  Then I stopped focusing on it, I acted as though all I had to do was show up and the task would perform itself.  That is what happens when you get cocky.

I’m not sure if the word “cocky” is used in other english speaking countries, but there has to be a word for it in every language.  It happens when you get just a little too full of yourself.  When you start thinking you are better at something than anyone else, better than you really are.  When you feel you no longer have to apply yourself.

Being cocky almost always ends in embarrassment, because it almost always happens when other people are watching, like it did with me today.  Often times it happens precisely when you are showing off.

When I was younger it might have flustered me, I would have gotten all angry at myself, but I have learned to give things no more weight than they actually deserve.  I just told everybody what happened, that I had gotten cocky, and joined them in having a laugh at my expense.  No big deal.

Actually, I was happy it happened during a demonstration and not in a real scenario.  It was a great reminder, it humbled me a bit and caused me to remember how important it is not to lose focus on the things I’m doing.  It presented me with an opportunity to improve myself a bit, by reminding me that everything worth doing, is worth doing well.

It’s fine to know that you are good at something.  I encourage men to feel proud about the things they do well, there isn’t anything wrong with that, that in itself is not being cocky.  However…it’s one thing to feel good in that knowledge, to know it and feel satisfied about it, and quite another thing to make sure everybody else knows it by bragging about your abilities whenever you get the chance.

It’s a thin line between the two, and one that men too often stumble over, like I did today.  There is something, an additional quality you can develop that will help temper your pride just enough, and keep you from becoming an arrogant jerk who brags and boasts until the moment you fail, and then you are embarrassed.

That additional quality I’m talking about is humility.  The ability to be humble.  Humility is born out of the knowledge that we are just men, like everyone else.  We put our pants on the same way as everyone else does.  We pee, we crap, we get sick sometimes and we have some built in flaws.  Mostly it’s an awareness that we are not better or worse than anyone else.  We just are what and who we are…period.

Here is the tricky part though guys.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and it also seeks balance.  Too much humility is just as bad as  not enough.  Being too humble will make you a doormat for the rest of the world, while not enough makes you someone nobody can stand to be around.

It’s up to each of us individually to find that balance for ourselves.  There isn’t any magic formula for it.  There are books you can read that will give you suggestions, guru’s who can try and lead you to more self enlightenment, but the bottom line is that it’s work you have to do. 

It’s experiential.  It comes to you after a lifetime of trial and error, deciding what works and what doesn’t.  learning from your mistakes and making improvements.

The key to it all though, is being aware.  If you don’t know what you are looking for then you will never find it, and that is the purpose of this episode;  to make you aware of this type of balance with humility and pride…so that you can seek it on your own terms, if you choose to.

Now head out into the world and remember that everything worth doing is worth doing well.  Try not to be too cocky.  The moment you think you are immune to failure, is when failure will creep in.  Stay focused on everything you do, take nothing for granted, and temper your pride with a dash of quiet humility and you will be on your way to being a better man today than you were yesterday.

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