CONDFIDENCE OR ARROGANCE – BOYS need to know the difference

Upon meeting teenage boys at their first coaching session, we talk about how they are travelling and together we establish a starting point for our coaching conversations. It’s informal, comfortable, and easy-paced.

‘Confidence’ always pops up in our conversation within the first 20 minutes or so. We establish what confidence means to them and if their confidence is on the lower or higher side of the line right now. Finally we decide if it’s an area they would like to work on. It’s interesting to note just about every teen male I coach, makes it very clear to me they don’t want to be TOO CONFIDENT, because no-one likes a guy who is ‘too confident’.

Teen looking thoughtful

Here’s where the conversation gets gritty. Awareness and learning happens fast.

Interesting comment. ‘No-one like guys who are too confident’. With this in mind, teen boys share with me that they are inclined to keep a lid on their confidence to avoid any labels or hassling from their mates or non-mates. It’s as if this could be a fate there’s no turning back from.

A while back I was watching cricket with my son who is crazy about cricket,  and Jake Fraser-McGurk a nearly 18 year old, had recently joined the Victorian cricket team. In media interviews well known players were asked about him, and they all commented the same words again and again, “He’s confident, but he’s not arrogant.” This comment really stood out for me as it was obviously important for the world to know (especially males) that Fraser is confident, but he’s not arrogant (so his team mates must like him right?).

When I present in schools… the same conversation pops up with boys (rarely girls!)

The difference between confidence and arrogance needs clarification. It’s obviously a grey area and too many boys are swimming in its uncertainly, causing them to play it safe, hold back and sit tight, in fear of appearing too confident, being referred to as arrogant and being un-liked by their peers. Boys often exclude or distance themselves from other boys who are always talking themselves up, and displaying an out-of-balance opinion about self and their abilities.
Cocky, arrogant and up-yourself are terms thrown about and once thrown, these labels tend to stick and stay stuck for a long time. It takes great self-awareness, effort and skill for boys to flick this kind of reputation.

So, why is this so interesting?
From my 30 plus experience in education, coaching and parenting, teen males often fear being labelled as arrogant, and with such strong misunderstanding around this, they can easily fall into the trap of holding back their natural confidence. In doing so, they often fly under the radar and I highlight this sad trend in book for teens – ROC and RISE’s aptly named chapter – Cruising with Confidence. Teenagers love this chapter, often commenting it gives them the HOW-to guide to confidence. Page 205 shows clear and helpful examples, articulating exactly what confidence IS and IS NOT. 

I also dive into confident in book for teens – Hello High School, sharing teen-friendly tools and tips to help teen boys especially cruise with steady in-balance confidence, and leave arrogance at the door.

There is a massive difference between confidence and arrogance. The two should not be confused.
Confidence – is a balanced feeling, trust or belief in yourself that you can achieve, show up or do your best, whilst understanding that you may have areas to work on, weaknesses and shortfalls. It’s a healthy and well-rounded perception of one’s self that rumbles on the inside and is organically shown on the outside. In coaching sessions and in ROC and Rise, the difference is very clearly shared and discussed.

Arrogance – on the other hand, is an exaggerated outward show of superiority, recognising mainly one’s strengths and talents and failing to recognise any areas of lack or weakness. It’s an out-of-balance perception of oneself, which doesn’t necessarily match what’s going on, on the inside (that’s a whole different conversation as boys who present as arrogant can be wrestling with self-esteem and wondering where the fit.)

After explaining this to male teens, they often feel much more comfortable stepping forward, stepping up and truly shining, knowing their own style of confidence is natural and it can ebb and flow. Confidence is a good thing and should not be confused with arrogance, which of course has a place when used in moderation (but this too is different conversation for another day.)

Confidence is NOT arrogance.
Boys need to know this. Thank you for having this conversation with young men in your life.

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