12 signs you’re not arrogant, you just have an ambitious personality

You’re self-assured, believe you can achieve anything, and have a go-getter attitude.

Some people may see your confident approach and mistake it for arrogance.

But here are the clear signs you’re not arrogant, you just have ambition.

1) You don’t need the limelight and give credit where credit is due

Hey, we all love to shine.

Perhaps ambitious people more than most.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t recognize the hard work of others.

Not only that, but you are quick to show your appreciation through compliments and expressing your gratitude.

You know that other people‘s achievements don’t take away from your own.

We should never underestimate the power of praise, especially within a work environment.

Research has even shown that it can be just as motivating as getting financial rewards.

What’s more, when we dish out credit where it’s due in the workplace it can help to increase an employee’s productivity and creativity.

Whilst an arrogant person may care very little about that, an ambitious person does.

That’s because they realize working together is an important part of creating success.

2) You’re a team player

Arrogant people think that they are special, and this tends to get in the way of collaboration.

Which is unfortunate, as research has shown that collaborative problem-solving leads to better outcomes.

Working as part of a team, rather than always going it alone, has plenty of benefits.

Amongst other things, it has been shown to:

  • Encourage personal development
  • Increase job satisfaction
  • Reduce stress
  • Promote innovation

 When we work as a team we get to learn from the diversity of different voices and experiences.

Guest editor of America Psychologist’s special edition ‘The Science of Teamwork’ — Dr. Susan McDaniel — says you can also learn new things about yourself:

“We all have blind spots about our behaviors and strengths that we may be unaware of, and feedback from a team member can expose them,”

And as we’ll see next, that’s something ambitious people really value.

3) You appreciate feedback

When you’re ambitious you find feedback useful.

Of course, there’s always a way of receiving it. None of us like to feel attacked. It needs to be constructive.

But regardless of how it is intended or how it is delivered — when you’re arrogant, you don’t want to hear it.

Listening to and taking on board the opinions, ideas, and feelings of others is important if we want to grow as people.

And ambitious people know this.

Unfortunately, arrogant people close themselves off from this potential avenue of development.

They are too proud and stubborn to accept that they are anything less than perfect.

So, it’s no wonder they find it difficult to see when they get it wrong.

4) You’re not too proud to own up to your mistakes

As I’ve just said, arrogant people have a really hard time backing down.

That’s because it dents their all too fragile ego.

That means no matter how ambitious you are, or how much you really want to get things right — you know that won’t always be possible.

Ambitious people not only face up to their mistakes —they use them to their advantage.

Failing never feels good. But that doesn’t change a rather inconvenient fact:

Most success stories are littered with previous failures.

You’ve perhaps heard that it took Thomas Edison thousands of failed experiments before inventing the lightbulb.

Failures are how we eventually learn to get it right.

Ambitious people use their previous experiences — both the good and the bad — and build upon them.

That’s something arrogant people aren’t strong or resilient enough to do.

5) You don’t look down on people

One of the most significant hallmarks of arrogance is a sense of superiority.

The swagger of big-headed people is not built on inner confidence.

Instead, it comes from a delusional belief that they are fundamentally better than others.

When you have an ambitious personality, you certainly don’t swan around acting as though you’re so much better than anyone else.

You genuinely think that everyone has something to offer.

You feel confident about what you bring to the table.

But that certainly doesn’t mean you dismiss what others bring too.

6) You feel more in competition with yourself than anyone else

We all react differently to competition.

For some, a bit of healthy rivalry brings out the best in them.

Some studies claim that competition can motivate employees, resulting in better results.

Even when that’s the case, it’s never good to become bogged down in comparison.

Negative competition creates feelings of threat, fear, dissatisfaction, and anxiety.

At the end of the day, you realize that you’re only truly in competition with yourself.

You know that the way to be at the top of your game is to push yourself and strive for better.

It’s not about running over all your rivals on the way to the top.

You understand the real process is an internal one.

It matters less what everyone else is doing and more where you focus your energy.

After all:

Why waste time concerning yourself with someone else’s journey when you have a path to carve for yourself?

7) You’re mindful of how you’re perceived

Arrogant people tend to be oblivious.

They’re the worst at reading the room. 

Let’s just say when it comes to self-awareness they are sadly lacking.

But this lack of awareness shields them from concerning themselves with other people.

They are far too busy being wrapped up in their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. So they pay little mind to how they come across.

When you’re ambitious on the other hand you understand how vital this is.

Social connections can be powerful when it comes to creating success.

For example, getting along with your colleagues has been proven to impact how well you do at work.

8) You are proud of your achievements and abilities without needing to brag

Ambitious people know their worth.

They have an excellent grasp of their capability. They believe in themselves.

So they have a full inventory of their gifts, skills, and talents.

This gives them bags of confidence.

Because they feel self-assured, they’re not desperately looking for everyone else’s recognition.

And in reality, that’s what arrogant people are doing when they boast or brag.

You can still be incredibly ambitious yet humble.

9) You don’t feel like you’ve got anything to prove

Deep down the sad truth is that arrogant people don’t really like themselves as much as they seem to.

Arrogance tends to spring from insecurity. The bluster and front that cocky people put on is just a mask.

According to psychologist Dr. Leisa Bailey:

“Arrogance is rooted in insecurity — a defense from feelings of weakness that are unacceptable and unclaimed. An arrogant person generally has a skewed view of the world and a warped understanding of themselves.”

So arrogant people go around as though they have something to prove.

Ambitious people on the other hand aren’t trying to prove themselves worthy.

They know that they are already worthy. They are simply striving toward excellence.


Because life is about growth and progress. 

10) Above all else, you want to learn and develop

So rather than trying to get attention or prove to the world they are special, ambitious people just want the best for themselves.

They know that their ability to grow, adapt and better themselves is how to achieve this.

Ambitious people are always looking for ways to improve themselves. So it’s no surprise they believe in lifelong learning.

They don’t think there will be a point where they know it all.

They don’t think they will get to the stage when nobody has anything worth teaching them.

Ambitious people have strong work ethics — when it comes to both their careers and personal lives.

They set goals, make plans and keep a track of their progress.

Arrogant people on the other hand are so conceited that they are closed off to new information.

That makes learning incredibly challenging.

11) You have plenty of willpower, but that doesn’t make you pig-headed

Ambition takes strength. There’s no doubt about it.

But how arrogant people show their strength compared to ambitious people couldn’t be more different.

Ambitious people are open-minded as opposed to judgemental. But that certainly doesn’t mean they are easily led or manipulated.

You have plenty of self-awareness and you know your values.

When you understand who you are and where you are going in life, it’s far harder to be led off course.

That means you will stand your ground when needed. You won’t be so quick to back down whenever you believe it’s truly important.

Arrogant people on the other hand get into arguments for the sake of being right.

They care more about “winning” than the sake of the bigger picture.

12) You are prepared to push your comfort zone

Arrogant people do everything in their power to feel in control.

Their whole persona is shaped around looking like they are always in the driving seat.

But ambitious people always have their eyes open for new opportunities.

And the reality is that new opportunities usually require us to step outside of our comfort zone.

That means being able to take calculated risks.

Being bold and brave is what gives ambitious people their edge over the rest of us.

Arrogant people want to stay in the safety of the familiar, where nothing can threaten them.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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