CBS Sunday Morning does it again.
I never watch it without being introduced to some evocative insight or inspiring individual.
Today’s treat was an interview with a refreshingly honest and profound musician … Patti Smith.
This is how her thought-provoking interview with Anthony Mason started . . .
“Patti Smith said she never expected to be a rock star, nor did she aspire to become one: ‘I was brought up at a time where, essentially, rock stars were male.’
But when Smith took the stage of New York nightclubs in the early 70’s with her angular, androgynous swagger, critic James Wolcott wrote: ‘Patti is on her way to becoming the wild mustang of American rock.’
‘There was something in me, some kind of presumptive bravado, that told me, ‘I could do that.”
Props to Patti.
Having a presumptive bravado can be essential to setting your SerenDestiny in motion.
When you are in the desert of your vision – when there’s no “there, there” but in your head – it takes a certain arrogance to believe, “My vision has value. It’s valid. It deserves to be done. And I am the one to do it. I can do it. And I will do it.”
It’s at this point other people may tell you you’re crazy. Or misguided. Or foolhardy. They’ll say, “Who are you to think you can pull this off?”
They’ll try to talk some sense into you. They’ll tell you you’re being unreasonable. Arrogant. They’ll tell you, “You’re dreaming.”
To which you reply, “That’s right. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
From the beginning of time, opening and expanding the creative envelope have been the territory of dreamers, of innovators who see a future that doesn’t yet exist and have the courage to create it.
SerenDestineers are often mustangs. They break boundaries and barriers. Sometimes, that requires … swagger.
As the famous George Bernard Shaw quote goes . . . “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (Or woman.)
Patti knew most rockers were men – but some presumptive bravado (I LOVE that term!) – told her she could become one too.
And that’s what she set out to do.
Against all odds. In spite of the nay-sayers. Even when no one believed in what she was trying to do except herself.
She persevered through the desert of her dream and is now revered for her extraordinary body of work. Rolling Stone named her debut album Horses “one of the best records of the 20th Century.” Her memoir Just Kids won The National Book Award in 2010.
How about you?
Are you in the desert of your vision? Do you see yourself creating something, correcting something or contributing something … but as of now, no one believes this is possible but you?
Could you use a little presumptive bravado?
Now, if I could read your mind, you might be thinking, “But arrogance and bravado are bad. They’re not something I want to do.”
I hear you.
Websters defines “arrogance” as an “offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.”
Websters defines bravado as a “pretentious, swaggering display of courage.”
Further research into “arrogance” and “bravado” reveals that most quotes about, references to, and examples of those concepts are overwhelmingly negative. (i.e., “Pride goeth before the fall,” etc.)
Since those characteristics are perceived as objectionable and unflattering, many of us have gone the other way.
We strive to be humble, modest, self-effacing, reasonable.
Here’s the rub.
Some of us are humble – to a fault.
There, I’ve said it.
Humility, modesty and being reasonable are wonderful qualities.
But when taken to an exclusive extreme, they undermine the unwavering clarity and confidence – the mental swagger – needed to think we’re capable of achieving something that hasn’t been done before.
It’s time to re-define “arrogance” and “bravado.”
Instead of dismissing them as “bad” and perceiving them as “pretentious, prideful displays of superiority;” perhaps we can see them as necessary ingredients of being a SerenDestineer.
The key is to use them in healthy service of our vision.
Arrogance and bravado don’t have to be about one-upsmanship – they can be about advancement.
They don’t have to be about beating and bettering everyone else – they can be about being your best self.
Arrogance and bravado don’t have to be offensive, external displays of conceit – they can be intensive, internal displays of conviction.
When used constructively; arrogant bravado can become appropriately instigating bravery.
How so? Look again at the pivotal word presumptive in Patti Smith’s term for what helped her believe she could become a female rocker, even when there was no evidence to back up her belief.
“Presume” means to “undertake beforehand with boldness.” “Presumption” is “an assumption something is true … without fully established grounds, evidence or reasoning.”
That’s what SerenDesineers do.
They presume their vision is true and has value … beforehand … even when, especially when, there isn’t yet evidence or reason to support that.
That presumption is a prerequisite and precursor to having the confidence to undertake the bold actions necessary to make their vision come true.
in other words, healthy arrogance is not something to avoid; it’s something to embrace.
Your SerenDestiny vision’s progress – and perhaps the world’s progress – depend on it.
What Do You Think About Presumptive Bravado and Healthy Arrogance?
I’m still wrapping my mind around these concepts and welcome your insights and experiences.
Has a healthy arrogance fortified you in the desert of your dream? How so?
How has presumptive bravado helped you achieved something important and unprecedented – something others thought impossible?
BTW – here are some quotes discovered in my research to kick-start your thinking. Do you agree/disagree/find a kernel of truth in them? Have a favorite quote you’d like to add? Share all.
“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” – visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright
“It’s only arrogant if it’s wrong.” – coffee mug slogan
“I am the greatest. I said that even before I was.” – boxing champion Muhammad Ali
“We had every problem starting our big top. The tent fell down the first day. We had trouble getting people into shows. It was only with the courage and arrogance of youth that we survived.” – Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte
“Any fool knows that bravado is always a cover-up for insecurity.” – singer Bobby Darin (hHmmm …)
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.” – Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen
“Strong convictions precede great actions.” – Little Women author Louisa May Alcott
“Never, ‘for the sake of peace and quiet,’ deny your own experience or convictions.” United Nations statesman Dag Hammarskjold
“All you have to do is look straight and see the road. And when you see it, don’t sit looking at it … walk.” – Ayn Rand
“When you have decided what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.” – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
“The arrogance of the artist is a very profound thing, and it fortifies you.” – Hawaii author James A. Michener