A conversation about confidence versus cockiness


I read somewhere, that ‘geology is a science of time and pressure.’

Some people, as they grow up, become more of who they are. Their qualities solidify, bit by bit, gradually, over time and under pressure that challenges in life imposes on them. I liken them to sedimentary rocks.

Others morph into a person even they themselves find different from who they were. Their qualities transform. These people, to me, are like metamorphic rocks. They are not original (like sedimentary rocks) but results of a transformation process from other rocks, under so much more intense heat and pressure.

I find myself in the latter group. A metamorphic rock being formed. It appears to me that my ‘metamorphism’, the transformation process that makes a metamorphic rock, started a bit more than 2.5 years back.

Along with this transformation in who I am is a transformation in how I think, or my perspectives about myself and everyone and everything around me. As a person who is passionate about tracking changes and finding out the reasons behind changes in general, I often try to trace any results I see emerging out of my metamorphism back to where they start. And I find out that they often start from very small things, like some lines in a book I read, an observation I catch in a walk, or a meaningful conversation I have with my friends, colleagues or family members.

The other day, I had this unexpected conversation on Facebook with a friend I made back in Colorado State University. I’m thankful for his sharp and informed response and argument that provoked me to think more deeply about what I meant, which, by consequence, helped me hone my vision of who I want to be. I have a feeling that sometime from now looking back, I’d likely find it to be one of such change-inducing moments. So I document it here for my own reference. And also, I hope it means something to you. 🙂

Transformation quote.jpg

Me: When drained and thus somewhat negative, what I see in myself is just how many flaws I’m born with. Sometimes, on such an occasion, I miss to realize a tiny bit of energy remaining in me. Whenever I’m still alive enough to see that little light, I challenge myself, ‘but look, see how much you have been fixing such flaws.’

There’s nothing I can do about being born with so many drawbacks: selfishness, bad-temper, cockiness, just to name a few. But one thing I surely can do is become more mindful of them in order to transform them into good. There may be moments when I feel so weak a soldier in that battle (though I don’t want to call it a ‘battle’ at all, it should be a healing or transforming process instead). But I just have to remind myself that no matter what, there is always a little light left to show me how much I have done to make this ugly person a better one so as to stay positive, appreciative, grateful and keep going on.

My friend: I don’t think your traits are drawbacks, bad-temper might be, but not selfishness and cockiness. A research in Germany found that Narcissism (pride, arrogance, cockiness) is positively related to salary and Machiavellianism (selfishness, manipulative personality) is positively related to leadership position and career satisfaction. http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/09/30/1948550615609735.abstract?rss=1

Me: Thanks for sharing this. I think that cockiness and selfishness which are positively correlated with achievement and progression may be just manifestations of what really makes it (we all know correlation doesn’t mean a causal relation, right). I think it’s confidence (which sometimes unfavorably leads to cockiness) and self-motivation (of which selfishness is a shade) are the reasons behind those positive outcomes. While confidence and self motivation are good, cockiness and selfishness may be harmful or hurtful. What I want to do is to become more confident without becoming cocky and more self-motivated without being selfish. 🙂

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