On Confidence

Published July 30, 2015

The line between confidence and arrogance is a tricky concept that has eluded many individuals. The goal is to be self-assured but not self-centered; believe that you are correct but not dismissive of other people’s opinions. To create a better understanding of a healthy confidence instead of a damaging narcissism one must look beyond the standard definition and recognize the intrinsic implications of the definition.

Confidence is often defined as a percentage assessment of the probability of being correct in assumptions and calculations. The standard definition reflects only this idea, but misses the assumptions that come with a quantified belief. By stating the probability that one outcome is true, the reciprocal defines the probability that it is incorrect and therefore claiming it as a possibility.  Essentially, by stating how confident you are, you are admitting the possibility of being wrong.

In this respect, being confident is believing you are correct while simultaneously recognizing the possibility that you may be wrong. Beyond that, when you are in fact proven wrong, it is conceivable and welcomed to improve your future insight. In contrast, the self-absorbed individual will label valid yet contradicting information irrelevant or ignore it in order to maintain their status quo and delusion. This is due to a disregard for the possibility that they are incorrect and a lack of respect for others.  In casual debate, a confident person is no less confident if they accept new information that challenges their previous paradigm; and someone who irrationally refutes new ideas is arrogant.

The realization that one might be wrong is often quoted throughout history.  The more one knows, the more they find they don’t know. This is humility. The acknowledgement of potential failure.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. – Confucius

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