Arrogant is a word that has always left a bad taste in my mouth. I like “confident.” I don’t mind “pride.” I can even handle a little bit of “cockiness.” But arrogant brings to mind an over-the-top presumption of superiority that may not be earned, but rather simply assumed.
Last week was the Michigan (UM) vs Michigan State (MSU) football game. Even those of you who don’t keep up with college football have likely heard how that game ended in the final 10 seconds with a big MSU win.
I was a student at UM when Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback and was thrilled when it was announced that he would return as head coach. It doesn’t seem right that the Michigan football program hasn’t been a contender for several years. I hoped he could turn it around. I also graduated from MSU and have decades of memories of watching the Spartans with my dad. My blood certainly ran more green than blue for years.
Last weekend presented an annual conundrum for me. Who would I be rooting for? Harbaugh and his opportunity to reinvigorate the Wolverines, or Dantonio and the amazing achievements he has consistently reached with the Spartans? I wasn’t sure.
My husband brought me coffee in bed on Saturday morning and we watched ESPN Game Day (live from the UM campus in Ann Arbor). Just as I had seen all week leading up to this big game, the analysts were having a field day talking about UM’s amazing program, and paid scant attention to “little brother” MSU (little bro’ – what does that even mean?). At one point, they posted a graphic and boasted about how great UM was with their 5-1 record. The graphic also showed MSU’s 6-0 record, yet that fact was ignored. That arrogance frustrated me, and I made up my mind. Go Spartans. Go Green.
What I heard from the media felt so … arrogant. It was beyond confident. It was beyond prideful. It was beyond cocky. It was just plain arrogant. Maybe it was Harbaugh and the players. Maybe it was just the media. Whoever it was, the powerful message that I received was simply one of arrogance. My perception of arrogance on the part of UM cost them my support last Saturday.
How often has your arrogance cost you something? How often have you lost a potential customer because you came across as arrogant? “We have the absolute best product; you would never dare to go elsewhere.” How frequently have you lost a potential great hire because you came across as arrogant? “This is the best offer you will get; you should be lucky we offered you a job” How often have you failed to collaborate successfully with your peers because you came across as arrogant? “I refuse to partner with you; you think you are always right and never listen to new ideas.” Have you ever considered that you lost a client, or a new hire, or an opportunity at work because of arrogance? The thing about arrogance is that most people don’t recognize it in themselves.
When that kick-off took place at 3:30pm last Saturday, I was wearing my green & white and cheering loudly for MSU. This isn’t about an error on the part of UM, or luck on the part of MSU, or who got hurt, or who scored, or what officials made what calls. This is about the negative impact of arrogance. I know UM doesn’t care that I rooted for MSU, but it’s a clear example of the often unknown impact that being arrogant can have on others. I was simply a fan. What if I was a client, a customer, a potential new hire, a peer, a boss …