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Arrogance is not audacity.

On the surface they may initially appear to be synonymous. I have certainly mistaken one for the other. So how do we tell these apart?

AUDACITY – Audacity is a mindset; an approach to engaging with the world outside the self. The underlying intent is the willingness and openness to reach out and connect with opportunities and to take action. We want to work with people who are audacious!

a willingness to take bold risks.
boldness, daring, fearlessness, intrepidity, bravery, courage, courageousness, valour, valorousness, heroism, pluck, recklessness;
[via Google]

ARROGANCE – Arrogance is ego-driven and self-centred. Arrogance can also take bold risks, but mainly for ego gains like outward signs of wealth, success and power. The underlying driver is often fear and insecurity. We want avoid the arrogant and the self-centred.

having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
haughty, conceited, hubristic, self-important, opinionated, egotistic, full of oneself, superior;
[via Google]

So why is the underlying intent important? Taking bold risks is taking bold risks right?

Not when the outcome is affected. Our intentions affect how we engage with people. Effective engagement is crucial to help us understand who we are designing for, why, and what would truly add value to them and change their world. Effective engagement is also crucial to the success of joint projects, and to ensure that the success is shared by all members of the party.

Audacity coupled with the humble approach that acknowledges users as the experts of their situations is paramount to solid user-centric design. An audacious partner can help boost the joint venture towards better outcomes for the good of the project.

Arrogance will tend to impose an “I know best” solution. It reduces the capacity of the designer to consider alternative perspectives and possibilities. Arrogant designers are also much less aware of their own biases and how they can distort their understanding of the world and client needs. An arrogant partner can subvert the joint venture’s resources to serve their own ego needs, at the expense of the project and others’ needs.

Image: We Me Concept via Shutterstock.