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Your Arrogance Can Ruin People's Attempt to Succeed

Lesson #9 from Kilimanjaro 


This is a short but interesting lesson about how arrogance we develop through acquired competence can ruin other people's attempts to succeed. 


I have witnessed this behaviour several times. We are in the gym talking to the group that is about to leave for Everest Base Camp (EBC). They are excited, slightly nervous and doubtful asking "Can I make it?" To which our group members who have done EBC respond, "Oh, that is very easy, we are now going to Kilimanjaro, try that", - dismissively laughing making the guys feel even more doubtful of their ability to do the trek. One quietly asked me after the chat, "Do you think I can make it? You guys are much fitter." I just said, "Sure, all you need to do is walk and you can walk, right? It's easy!" 


Yes, it is easy because we have done it. But we felt the same way before the trip so why are we so quick to forget about those feelings? Why are we so quick to forget about the day when we also struggled on the mountain? Why don't we talk about the night when I woke up with a panic attack or about the fact that only 10 out of 17 of us made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro? No, we keep quiet about the hardships. 


So there comes karma:-)))


We are sitting and discussing our next adventure to Mera Peak 6,476m. Crossing 6000m makes me excited but the recent news from a friend whose friend just died while summiting Mera Peak (suspected heart attack we don't know yet) somewhat makes me nervous and doubtful. Another hiker joins our chat and he laughs as he sips his tea "Mera is easy, I just got back from my first 8000m, that was hard not Mera." 


A pattern of behaviour was laid out right in front of me. And it is not so much arrogance or dismissing others' feelings or achievements. It is not even about wanting to be better than others or competence. It is more about, "Once you do it, it becomes easy!" 


As a quote says "Everything must be hard at first" but once you do it, it becomes almost a laughing matter and all you can ask is, "Why was I so nervous about this?" 


Dismissing others' concerns or doubts may cause them to withdraw from a challenge. Asserting that a task is easy to someone grappling with doubts isn't particularly helpful, is it? Such comments can make us feel inadequate. On the flip side, they might also instil a sense of, "If he can do it, I can do it too!"


Next time somebody is facing a challenge you already have tackled, at least don't laugh at them! Their concerns are legit and their neuro connections or lack thereof confirm that. They haven't gone through the experience so the brain is throwing legit questions: do you have the skill, knowledge, grit, resilience, and a backup plan to survive this? Because your brain's only job is to keep you alive. If it detects a threat it will start sending signals and that's ok. This is its job. 

But responding to a threat signal with an "Oh, it's easy" that's just stupid. Threat signals need a backup plan and confirmation that you have what it takes to survive the task. So next time when you face a concern maybe provide that. 


PS: Don't take survival in a literal way. Survival many times means no failure, but you already know that, right? How many things have you not even attempted to start because you got scared? Your brain won and maybe the arrogant person who told you "Just do it, it's easy" instead of giving you backup plans.



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