Arrogance And A Messy Head

While sometimes children behave like “know-it-alls”…


Often an attempt to showcase what they’ve learned or to build their self-confidence. Sometimes, it’s also to bully others.  


More unusual though is to find an adult that thinks and actually says they know it all. 


But sure enough, I ran into someone who told me (about technology):

“I know everything!”


And they said it with a straight face. 


Literally, they told me how they came up through the ranks and knew EVERYTHING with emphasis!


Moreover, they told me that if I didn’t know something, I should go ahead and ask them because they would most definitely know it.


So I respect all people and certainly admire those who are knowledgable and talented in their fields. 


But something felt very wrong about an adult who feels that they have to go around bragging about the depth of their knowledge–and that their knowledge is apparently infinite (at least that’s what they espoused). 


I wondered to myself–is the person arrogant and a big mouth or the opposite–lacking in self confidence and therefore needing to boast and show off to compensate for their inadequacies?


When they were talking, it seemed like their head was getting so big and full of themself that it would just explode!


Most adults with emotional intelligence realize how little they know, and the older they get the more they realize that they don’t know in life. 


Especially, people of faith recognize that G-d is all-knowing and all-powerful, and we are but mere “flesh and blood” and truly just a speck of dust in the universe.


So truly smart people are humble and they look to learn from others, rather than preach and teach in a monologue of hubris.


Like many people that get too big for the britches, G-d usually brings them back down to Earth and their head to size.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Big Mouths Alert

Big MOuth.JPeG

So I took this photo in the Museum of Natural History. 


As you can see, this hippopotamus has quite a big mouth. 


He is also not alive and is behind a glass-enclosed case for viewing. 


To me this screams that those with big mouths often don’t end up well. 


I remember a relative of mine used to bluntly call it, “being full of sh*t.”


Whether these people are in politics, your neighborhood, bullies at work and school, or even those in the fake news media…they have become all to somewhat frequent.


Sure there are other animals with small mouths in the same situation, but the hippo truly is a decreasing and vulnerable species.


And like it’s neighbor in the museum, the dinosaur–another one who has a big mouth–that ended up extinct, the prospects for talking big, but accomplishing little is sort of part of the character. 


The hippopotamus is mostly a herbivore–it has a big mouth and some big sharp teeth, but it mainly eats humble plants and doesn’t pursue the hunt of the big game and eat lots of red meat. 


Listen, big mouths can still be highly dangerous–words are powerful and can do a lot of damage. 


But overall “talk is cheap,” especially when people focus on words and not good deeds and who don’t have the right intentions. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Meaning of Silence

Silence.jpeg

Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You’re Not All That

You're Not All That

So they say that all sin is rooted in arrogance.

We get too big for our britches and think we can do whatever we want including stepping on others and defying our maker.

An interesting article in Harvard Business Review reminds us to beware of narcissism and hubris.

Narcissism is a character disorder where because of feelings of inadequancy from childhood, people have to self-promote themselves every which way toSunday–they are “insufferably self-centered.”

Hubris is a reactive disorder where due to past success and accolades from others, we become overconfidant, until the luck changes “toppling from their pedestals” and shrinking their ego back down to size.”

I like the reminders from HBR cautioning about these:

– “Have more than thou showest; speak less than thou knowest.” – Shakespear

– “Humble pie should be the only dessert served.”

It’s one thing to have decent self-esteem anchored in your knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, and it’s another to think and act like you have all the answers–none of us do.

If your showing it off, it’s likely a turn off. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jampa)