Posts tagged with "arrogance"

Swimming in Arrogance, Drowning in Mediocrity


“I could let these dreamkillers kill my self esteem or use my arrogance as the steam to power my dreams/I use it as my gas so they say that I’m gassed but without it I’d be last so I ought to laugh.” –From “Last Call” off of College Dropout by Kanye West

I have long wondered why arrogance has come with a negative connotation. Arrogance is defined by Merrian-Webster as “feeling oneself to be of more importance than one is and usually in an overbearing or presumptuous manner.” The subjective feeling of self-worth and subsequent societal importance can be debated but the fact of the matter is that a human’s first priority is themselves. Despite society’s wish that you believe altruistic deeds and emotions trump those of self-preservation and self-actualization; this is undoubtedly a societal phenomenon and not one that’s rooted in your DNA. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates Love and Belonging  sandwiched conveniently between Physiological needs and safety and the more emotionally driven Esteem and Self Actualization. In Maslow’s book, Motivation and Personality, he claims to have used exemplary samples of Humans such as Albert Einstein, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt rather than mentally ill or neurotic people. Using these exemplary samples allowed Maslow to essentially study “what right looks like”.

There is an interesting phenomena that I have noticed throughout my life that happens mostly to people who have the greatest “potential.” I call it “First Time Failure’s Syndrome” (FTFS). Maslow’s hierarchy has been used to exhibit a baseline theory on the human method of survival both in and out of society, finding that if someone had reached the point of self actualization that they are more likely to succeed at whatever they decide to do in life. Most of those suffering from FTFS went through the early stages of life; succeeding at almost anything they put their mind to with little to no resistance. This lack of resistance manifests itself in the individual as an ability to “naturally” supersede hard work in most cases.  At the first incident of true resistance, those suffering from FTFS fail to accomplish their goal and this first failure becomes an overwhelming blow to their psyche. According to Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the human Psyche, this blow would affect mostly the super ego. The super ego acts in direct contradiction to the id, which is the instinctual portion of the psyche, and lends itself to the completion of socially appropriate behavior. Thus, this blow to the super ego begins to bring the psyche out of balance as the failure to uphold a “cultural super-ego”. Many times, those who suffer from FTFS are attempting to accomplish something that they believe will either elevate their status in society or improve their feeling of self worth, without actually caring for the objective itself. This failure then is a huge emotional disappointment because they perceive that they have let others down in their quest for greatness. Those who shoulda, coulda, woulda been great are then stuck in a perpetual state of angst over their failure to establish their greatness and in turn fall into a previously unknown pattern of mediocrity. A closer look however, will show that their actions and accomplishments were previously gained by mediocre performance by themselves regardless of their dominance in an area over their peers. This dominance over their peers led to a glorification of their mediocre effort and in turn a pattern of belief  in their abilities to tackle any level of problems in this manner. For those with FTFS, this has proven to not be true.

So, then you’re asking yourself what all this has to do with anything, yes? Well I will tell you. Arrogance should be looked at not as a personality flaw but as a necessary part of the human psyche and societal order.  The negative connotation of arrogance comes partly from those who manifest arrogance only to become self imposed victims of FTFS and then from those whose best effort has always been mediocre in comparison to their peers. Maslow’s decision to only use exemplary samples is proof of the fact that arrogance is in fact healthy IF and only IF said arrogance manifests itself beyond thought and into action.

-Devin T.