Whenever he finished an amazing run, resulting in a touchdown, and having weaved his way through the defense and even running over a defender or slipping past another with some lightning-quick footwork, he never carried on, didn’t even spike the football, he just glided over to the referee and handed him the ball. The NFL Hall of Famer and icon I am speaking about is Barry Sanders.
When Barry Sander retired, he had played in 159 games, had 110 touchdowns, 3032 receiving yards, and 15,655 rushing yards, for a total of 18,805 yards. Known as one of the fiercest and hardest-to-tackle running backs to ever play the game, but also recognized as one of the classiest players to ever take the field. Plenty of accomplishments with zero arrogance.
We all have completed something in our life where we had that tremendous sense of accomplishment. Maybe it was something in our personal life where we achieved a health, fitness, or financial goal. Or perhaps we completed a small project or much bigger endeavor where we took pride in the work we have completed. At work, we may have been promoted, received an award, or we were recognized for contributing to the growth of the organization. Again, it feels good, and whether we are recognized or not, we know in our hearts that we got the job done.
And as we accomplish our goals or contribute to success, people have an even greater appreciation and respect when we walk humbly regardless of what we have achieved.
There are times where the accomplishment or achievement is so amazing that we cannot help but jump for joy and let out a shout or two. Celebrating is much different than arrogance. Especially when it’s a big win, or it’s been a long-term goal that was met or exceeded. Yes, for sure, party it up and celebrate while we enjoy those moments in time. Arrogance is when we change our demeanor, look down on others, walk with a new sense of entitlement, sharing and boasting of incredible deeds. The impact of arrogance can wreak havoc on relationships and even when making first impressions.
Recently I had an opportunity to spend a weekend with my in-laws. My brother-in-law and his wife, as well as her parents, had hosted his parents and my wife and I for the weekend at their summer home in Ocean City, Maryland. They had only bought the home recently, so it was our first time visiting them in their new summer home. When we arrived, the first thing on the agenda was to go for a tour on the boat. My brother-in-law took us around the bay and pointed out all the things and places they were excited about. We stopped at a couple of places for some drinks and food, and then made our way home.
What stood out to me as I watched my brother-in-law was his sense of accomplishment in life. He is only 38 years old, and I have watched him grow personally and professionally. He has risen through the ranks at work and now leads a team. His team walks with the same sense of achievement, but no arrogance, they are there to get the job done. He works out and keeps himself in top physical condition. He practices his golf game and gets better all the time. When he gets a par or birdie, he is excited, but knows the next hole needs his focus. And now he is a part owner of a summer home with his in-laws. As I watched him last weekend, I was truly happy for him and his wife, they showed pride, but more than that they showed growth, appreciation, and joy, no arrogance.
We should take pride and experience joy when we achieve our goals, big or small, we should celebrate and let ourselves feel that true sense of accomplishment. I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can enjoy pride of accomplishment without the arrogance, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.