Arrogance Foils Excellence

Arrogance foils excellence
Sydney Park, AU, Photo: Rebecca Morgan


Have you encountered a know-it-all? Someone who seemingly knows much more than most on nearly all topics. Someone who would be loathe to utter, “I didn’t know that.” Someone who dismisses genuine experts. Someone who claims to an authority without any credentials or study (formal or informal) on the topic?

Perhaps you’re related to someone like this. Or married to one. Or can be one yourself.

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Ego Is a Renewable Resource

Ego is often thought of as a negative, as in “He has a big ego.” But the dictionary defines it as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” We value healthy self-esteem.

Sometimes we are afraid to try something new, concerned that we’ll fail and our ego will take a hit, from our self-flagellation or from others’ ridicule — or both. If we are cowed by the prospect of this, it keeps us playing safe and not trying much new.

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Reassessing During Your “Recessment”

I made up the word “recessment” to express my feelings — and perhaps yours — during this time of self-isolation, assuming you and your loved ones are well and practicing safe behaviors, and you aren’t an essential worker working outside the house.

(Granted, “recessment” does not address the added element of fear for one’s health and the health of loved ones, the grief over significant loss in others’ lives, possible uncertainty about financial security, and the anxiety about what lies ahead for you, others you care about, and society.)

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Lessons Learned from Doing Stand-Up Comedy

In August, I decided I wanted to add more humor to my content-rich presentations. I can be funny among friends, but I was having trouble finding humor for my keynotes and trainings.

I researched nearby stand-up comedy classes starting around Oct. 1. However, my friend Jeanne Robertson encouraged me to enter a video for her annual comedy competition — with a Sept. 9 deadline. Not being a professional humorist, I had only one five-year-old video of my doing a funny bit in front of about 30 friends. I had no illusions of ever winning, but thought, “What the heck.”

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Life Is a Self-Designed, Personal Growth Seminar

Photo: Rebecca Morgan, Ayutthaya, Thailand


Our lives have incredible highs and some heartbreaking lows. The former are exhilarating. In the moment you think, “How can life get any better?”

The lows often involve blaming ourselves, feeling stupid, and being embarrassed for our part in the mishap. Or you condemn others, thinking they caused this setback.

The difference between those who rebound quickly and those who linger in their negativity is their perspective. Wallowers stay stuck in victimhood, never reflecting on the lesson the experience has for them.

The sooner you can shift from anger or sadness to introspection, the happier you will be. Every disappointment has a gift for you, if you are willing to look for it. This is not always easy. The more time distancing you from the event, the easier it gets. However, if you can train yourself to look for the lesson as soon after the event as possible, the less suffering you’ll have.

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Is Your Self-Reliance Dooming You?

Photo: Rebecca Morgan, Ayutthaya, Thailand


A pal has been a supervisor at our local hardware store for eight years. He recently shared a story about Eric, the new general manager — someone who’d never worked in a hardware store and was hired about 6 months ago.

Eric is a nice guy, but he doesn’t see how he’s causing himself to fail. It appears that Eric has a lot of confidence since he never asks anyone else for input. The result is a messy store, frustrated staff and irritated customers. The store sales numbers are suffering as a result.

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Take Calculated Risks


Photo: Cassowary bird, Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide, AU


“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” —George S. Patton from a letter to Cadet George S. Patton IV, June 6, 1944

Taking calculated risks means boldness with forethought. It means weighing the outcome and avoiding unwise action. A calculated risk might be giving a presentation to your boss’ peers, telling someone they have a habit that annoys you, volunteering for a project you’ve never done before, or trying a new sport.

We can learn to take calculated risks, and they get easier with repeated attempts. Eventually you learn that you can pick yourself up and continue even if your boldness causes you to fall flat.

Morgan W. McCall Jr., coauthor of What It Takes: Decision Makers at Work, conducted a study comparing 20 successful Fortune 500 executives with 20 whose careers hadn’t been successful. One difference he found was that the achievers were secure enough to admit their fallibility, and they handled their mistakes with poise and grace. They analyzed their mistakes and learned from them, but they didn’t become obsessed. “Executive achievers don’t dwell on their mistakes and aren’t afraid to take risks for fear of failing again,” says McCall.

Many times it has been difficult for me to overcome my initial paralysis when faced with a risky challenge. Years ago when I entered the pension business, my boss assigned me to call on one tax attorney per day. Attorneys intimidated me. I almost had a heart attack.

My comfort zone was narrow. I felt comfortable calling on other insurance agents to ask them to recommend our services, but that was not where the real business was. The business came from tax attorneys and accountants.

After a few months of stressful and anxiety-ridden calls, my comfort zone expanded, and I was comfortable calling attorneys. But it wasn’t easy to overcome my self-doubts and intimidation. I learned from reading, workshops, and experienced friends that all growth occurs outside the comfort zone.

Now as I enter new areas requiring a stretch of my comfort zone, I’ve learned to ask myself these questions. Use them to help you act outside your comfort zone. When deciding to take a risk, write your responses to these six questions.

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Harness the Power of Commitment

Photo: Rebecca Morgan, City Palace, Jaipur, India


“Do or die!”

“Don’t give up the ship!”

“Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!”

Military expressions are valuable during war when the price of failure is death. But they lose impact in our business or private life: failure is not quite as final. However, these sayings are based on a principle that applies to all aspects of our lives: commitment.

This commitment to one’s goals is, for me, the most important rule for success. Without it, we fall prey to procrastination, bad habits, laziness, rationalization and a host of goal-defeating problems.

Commitment is a strong word — much stronger than “agreement.” If I agree to meet you for a movie, I have three options — keeping my agreement, cancelling, or changing it. If I commit to meeting you, I will meet you no matter what.

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