Why you need both arrogance and humility.
There’s a combination of interrelated ideas I’ve been wrestling with – most of my life really – and I’ll try and articulate this as best I can. Let’s see if I can be ambitious and excellent, not “ambitious but rubbish.”
Part of me has put off writing about this because I’m concerned I might come across too arrogant and people might view me in a negative light. Naturally, some people are more ambitious than others – I don’t think this is a shock – and the pursuit of excellence is not for everyone. Some people need to be ambitious, it’s what gives them vitality, but I sadly see a dampening of the spirit and erasure of the promising.
This reining in or watering down of ambition is the antithesis to true progress and development. Excellence might be antithetical to equality, but vindictively punishing striving and successful people is not the answer. Instead of being lauded, I fear it would now be deemed unfair that King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone because others couldn’t do it. I find that nuance is being negated as more and more gets reduced/simplified, and this is also not helpful, especially for complex and sophisticated ideas and problems.
Nietzsche in the Genealogy of Morals used the analogy of birds of prey vs lambs, in that it’s not surprising the lambs bear ill towards the birds of prey, but it’s not a reason to blame the birds for taking them. If those birds of prey are deemed evil/bad then the opposite – the lambs – are surely good are they not? To demand strength to not show itself as strength is just as absurd to ask weakness to show itself as strength. Same with ambition and excellence.
Hopefully it’s becoming evident why arrogance and humility need to be teamed together, yet deployed at different and alternating times which is context dependent. Too much of one or the other leads to insanity or stagnation, amongst other things. As I’ve written before, I largely feel we get in the way of ourselves and are the creators of our own demise.
Modern times are rife with uncertainty. I think we’ve lost our way and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I mean, I struggle with it myself and regularly question whether I’m going mad or am I mad not to be more worried about this? It’s beyond tolerating differences, as a species we seem to not be able to agree on truth. How do you defend yourself against such incessant and widespread manipulation through deliberate muddling, confusion, information overload and orchestrated media?
“The truth needle is becoming extremely difficult to find in amongst the bullshit haystack.”
We are watching a degradation of society; our institutions, our economy, structures, family, friends etc. the answer isn’t to do away with them, but to rid the world of their stench/rot. The “experts cannot be trusted” mentality is a rising and prevalent thought. A pretend elite has infiltrated the genuine elite with an intention of more bureaucracy and less brains.
I feel we’re encouraging and valuing the wrong types of people and ideas – associated discussions here; modern problems, modern solutions – popularity and truth – media-tations – derangement of the modern human. The amount of nihilism and hedonism plaguing our planet cannot be by accident. Madness and mockery are the currency of the realm where ticks, charlatans, Machiavellians and narcissists have run rampant in a period of extended adolescence / infantilism.
Ambition and excellence are very much linked to another idea I talked about in “a problem of production or distribution?”, where I find myself more on the former side. It’s a great act of compassion to make sure everyone has a drink at the trough, but what do you do when it has run dry, and you haven’t found another water source? You need brilliant and highly driven people to produce so that the benefits can then be distributed to the masses. We see it repeatedly over the course of history, it’s the exceptional individuals, the (lone) geniuses, the mavericks, who move humanity forward.
“We’re being hamstrung, it’s like we’re getting the tap on the shoulder from senior management saying it would be in your best interest to stop doing that.”
It’s time to get to work, and yet I see and sense so much resistance, some conscious and coordinated and some not.
It’s time to get to work, and yet we’re arguing like teenagers, throwing tantrums like infants.
Tall poppies get cut down in my neck of the woods because who the fuck are you to think you’re better than us? But is it a crime to want to be better for the betterment of humanity?
You need the arrogance to aim and achieve some pretty lofty goals, and you need the humility to send the elevator back down for others to join and perhaps build upon you, or do you really want to drill holes in your children’s life rafts?
Transcendence, beauty, inspiration, drive, integrity, character, IQ, personality, morality, skills, resources…all related concepts to ambition and excellence.
I know it’s been made more difficult to ascertain who in recent years, but sometimes you just have to let small amount of specific people do their thing, so you can rest easy.