On confidence (and arrogance)

Hi Tyler. I honestly don’t have much to say on this subject, because I’ve never seriously thought about it. Here’s a link to your blog post, because I care about shoutouts: Dunning-Kruger.

Confidence and arrogance

These two are usually paired together. Confidence is necessary when you are proving yourself to others. This becomes apparent in many social situations (asking a girl out to a dance, setting a good first impression) as well as technical. However, confidence can become arrogance very quickly.

Confidence is necessary

We’re all good at pretending. Pretend you’re a freelancer (or maybe you are, then you don’t need to pretend). There are two outlets in which I’ve personally gotten freelancing work:

  1. Somebody has looked at my portfolio (past works) and contacted me asking for my services.
  2. I approach somebody I know may want my services (at a startup-themed meet-up) and convince them they need me.

Situation one will never happen to you because you are a new freelancer (we’re still pretending), because you have not had any prior work experience. You could fill your portfolio with fake imagined projects, but lets assume you don’t.

Now lets pretend you are a co-founder of a new startup company. Your company’s product is fucking amazing and you know it. Everyone on your dev team has been working on an awesome back-end for your company’s service and it’s pretty good. Suppose you’re at your favorite hacker meet-up and some kid comes up to you and tells you he is interested in front-end development.

That kid is the freelancer you were pretending to be earlier. Lets pretend to be him again. You picked up HTML and CSS on your own, but don’t know much else. Somehow in your head, this equates to front-end development, and Mr. Co-founder is interested. You tell him that (even though you only know cursory Javascript) you can make his awesome back-end a great front-end for cheap. He is ecstatic.

This story has gotten too long, I’m going to talk about arrogance pretty soon.

Confidence leads one down two paths

The co-founder is amazed at your (alleged) knowledge and tells your to contact him later about a potential job.

Woah. Hold up. You know nothing of Javascript. There’s really two potential results from this confidence:

You end up being awesome

So (we continue to pretend), you email Mr. Co-founder and he sets you up for an interview/test sort of thing and between now and then you hunker down and learn web application programming and is able to prove it and impress all when the deadline comes. You build an awesome front-end for the startup and users really like it. Woo-hoo, good for you.

Arrogance is failing to impress

This one is more interesting. For this, we’ll again pretend to be the co-founder. The kid emails you and you’re still impressed. You set up a meeting with the kid and during the meeting bring up various technologies you’ve personally been looking at to power the front-end.

Over the course of the conversation, you realize the kid has no clue what he’s actually talking about; even though you’re a back-end developer, you’re more knowledgable about front-end technologies than this guy.

Lessons to be learned

What is arrogance (according to me)

In the case that the confident kid can’t deliver, Mr. Co-founder would probably consider this confidence as arrogance.

Though you don’t need to hear somebody’s claims on their abilities and test them to determine if they’re overconfident. If you’re cynical and grumpy person and somebody you’ve never heard about (this kid) makes a crazy claim about his or her abilities, you could immediately write it off as arrogant. Or if you’re happy and loving (or if the claims aren’t very ridiculous), you can test him or her (either directly or indirectly) and judge for yourself.

When you can be confident

I’m getting tired of writing, but pretty much what I’m trying to say is that arrogance and confidence are essentially the same thing until you prove it’s one or the other by failing or succeeding to meet your claims. I’m also saying you can be as arrogant as you want because you can prove that you’re capable and prove to haters that you were actually being confident. Or not, because you don’t care about what the haters think because they’re hate isn’t really useful to anybody.