Friday night I went out to James Beach and the Viceroy. It was my first time out in LA in months. Travel, work and an addiction to early morning yoga have kept me away from the scene. In truth I don’t like going out that much these days. Each night out leaves me thirsty for a genuine connection. I’d rather have a real conversation with someone, male or female, then be surrounded by LA’s plentiful masses of gorgeous women and bottles of alcohol. It wasn’t always this way.
In college I lived in New York and London and was a regular at the bars and clubs of the Meatpacking District, Chelsea and Soho (both chelseas and sohos). The best of nights were filled with drinking, dancing and debauchery. I was forward, loud and, at times, obnoxious enough to get kicked out of quite a few of these places. Looking back I have no regrets, it was great period of life, but I’m also not nostalgic.
These days when I do go out, I’m more likely to be found amongst the wallpaper, then dancing, Grey Goose in hand, on top of a plush leather couch. I feel much shier than I once was. Which brings me back to Friday night.
On my way home I sat in the back of a taxi talking to Brad and his new girlfriend. I’ve know the girlfriend for less than a month. Which is enough time to start pursuing one of her friends. As usual, I’m open about my attractions with everybody. In explaining her friend’s feelings the girlfriend used one word to describe me, “cocky.”
This left me surprised. It’s not that I’ve never heard this before. Over the years I’ve been called pretty much everyone of the thesaurus’ alternatives for arrogant. But recently I’ve felt anything but. In social situations I perceive myself to be quiet, reserved and shy.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since and here’s what I’ve come up with. I am straight forward. I do my best to provide a genuine answer to all questions, barring answers that will unnecessarily hurt people’s feelings. This means if someone asks me, “How are you?” I’ll take the time to tell them how I am doing, what I am feeling, what’s challenging and inspiring me at that moment. I also thirst for other people to be genuine, which requires me to lay myself open and vulnerable. People rarely tell you their secrets until you have told them yours. This can be disarming, even intimidating. Also, my increasing shyness has done nothing to deter my confidence. I am, for the most part, totally secure in who I am. Both of these things are often confused with arrogance and may in fact be arrogance at times.
Pondering this this weekend has been a great exercise. That one word – cocky – has revealed a lot about who I am. I don’t regret my disposition, even if it is perceived as arrogance. In fact, master VC Fred Wilson states this as one of his requirements for being a great entrepreneur: “A confidence bordering on arrogance.”
I now think that Rich may have been right. In college we had long debates about confidence vs. arrogance. I opposed him fiercely then. But these days I think he had a point when he said:
“It’s not arrogance if it’s true.”