When You’re Right and They’re Wrong

“Colin O’Brady is a world record holding explorer and one of the world’s best endurance athletes. Colin is regarded as a foremost expert on mindset and a highly sought after keynote speaker. He isn’t your typical athlete despite his unmatched athletic accomplishments — a world first solo crossing of Antarctica…”


That’s an excerpt taken from Colin O’Brady’s website. Even if true, that’s pretty cocky.

When I first learned of his feat crossing Antarctica solo, I was captivated. I followed his Instagram and saw his posts about his training and pics from his crossing. Impressive, no doubt.

And then I read the article by the National Geographic, His tale of crossing Antarctica was riveting. But how much was fiction?

Read for yourself and make up your mind. If true, therein lies important lessons on ego. During this period of isolation, let’s take an inward look at ourselves and emerge as a better version 2.0 of ourself.

Published in the April 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

“Results suggest that people may commit arrogant faux pas because they erroneously expect that their expertise will justify their dismissive behavior.” — Evidence for Arrogance [10]

When I read the National Geographic article by Teasdale, two times Travel Writer of the Year Award, there were many things that shocked me. First, how they defined “crossing the entire Antarctica.” From the image above, you can see what O’Brady accomplished (still amazing!), is a far cry from what Oasland accomplished in 1997. Secondly, if true, what a turn off to hear that O’Brady was yelling at his teammates during the Greenland ice cap crossing because they were going too slow!

So, how do we improve ourselves and learn from Colin O’Brady?

  1. People can detect selfishness… and it’s a turn off. O’Brady rushing to finish the Greenland ice cap crossing to meet with his sponsors or “fake waiting” at the finish to to really split the cost of the plane ride, selfishness will ruin any accomplishment.
  2. Tell accurate stories. I’ve fallen victim to this sometimes too. Technically O’Brady did cross the continent, but just not in the way common sense tells us.
  3. Be confident enough and don’t try to impress anyone. Bottom line is, what O’Brady did is still super impressive. Yet, he felt the need to embellish for the fame and money.

Your Ego Might Be Too Big If You’re Doing This

Example of someone who should have massive ego but doesn’t, the incredible @therock

President Trump, love him or hate it, has a massive ego. If we can limit our conversation to ONLY that portion of his personality, what can we learn from it? It requires a bit of empathy to trace back what he may have felt all throughout his life.

I, myself, have been caught in this flawed trait for most of my career. I did well in college with great grades. Got hired and quickly climbed the career ladder. Became a manager at a young age, and it all kept feeding my ego. I look back now at my behavior and am ashamed. When possible, I’ve apologized for them. But more likely, all I can do now is do better and keep reminding myself to demonstrate humility.

Let’s measure the size of our ego. According to my survey of Venture Out readers, over 80% of rated themselves as confident in social situations, yet acknowledging 25% are perceived as maybe arrogant.

“Studies showed that people overestimate the role of expertise information as compared to the role of interpersonal manner and outcomes.” — Evidence for Arrogance [10]

How many of these apply to you?

  • Do you ever feel out of touch? — According to this Harvard Business Review article, the bigger your ego, the more insulated you become, in effect “living in a bubble.”
  • Do you ever feel manipulated? — In that same article, because ego narrows our awareness of the reality, we can’t notice when someone is manipulating us!
  • Do you think rules are meant to be broken? — If so, it might be because you think you’re better than the rules.
  • Do the people you hang out with have an ego? — Chances are, so do you.

How To Handle Arrogant People

When the coronavirus started to breakout across the country, I believed it wouldn’t happen to me. When I learned that the virus hurts the elderly with underlying health issues, I thought I’d be fine even if I did get it. But then I started hearing more and more stories about perfectly healthy people in their 30’s and 40’s dying. That’s when it really sank in — we’re all in this.

Suddenly, I became acutely sensitive to people in groups, of neighborhood kids playing together, or anybody coming within a 6 ft radius of me! “What is wrong with you people?!”

There’s arrogance in myself judging others, and there’s arrogance in folks who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously enough.

Ancient Romans had a tradition of welcoming home victorious military commanders with a state-sponsored procession that included the commander riding in his chariot. Legend has it that a slave standing next to him would hold a golden laurel above his head and whisper into his ear, “Remember you are mortal.” — HBR [3]

Here are 3 questions that I use, especially during stressful situations and may not be thinking clearly. I’ve found it takes a lot of practice and I’ll never be perfect all the time.

  • How will what I say or do help the overall goal? For example, if the goal is to resolve an argument, will what you say help or hurt those chances. To stay Covid-free but stay fed, how best to get some food?
  • How will what I say or do help YOU? If I’m in an argument, even though I really, really want to say you’re wrong, what should I say that helps you understand. In Covid-world, that’s me running around you even though you don’t budge an inch for me.
  • Lastly, how will what I say or do affect ME? The point of this question is to be honest with yourself. If you answer this question with, “it helps me a great deal,” then you’re probably helping yourself at the expense of someone else. Is it worth it?

Survey of Venture Out readers say 60% of you make decisions based around the goal, while 17% think about the impacts to themselves.

Craft a Better Personality


How do successful people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, even any Kardashian keep becoming more successful?! Pick any successful person, how do they continually keep up with so much? Sure there are personality flaws in these people (in anybody), but I bet there’s still something we can learn.

Personally, I’ve read a lot about effective habits and the little things I can do to create a routine that increases my chances of being successful. I meditate, I prepare what to wear the night before, I reserve deep think time in the morning, etc.

But those are the LITTLE things. What are the BIG things we can do to get us closer to success? Keep on reading!

Research finds, “that outcome trumps expertise, and manner trumps both expertise and outcomes.” — Evidence for arrogance [10]

Do these, take control, and prob be more successful. Adapted from Smith and Kouchaki’s crafty HBR article.

  • The ONE Thing — In the morning, when you’re finally awake and thinking (perhaps after a cup of coffee), ask yourself what will you accomplish today. If you didn’t accomplish it, that it would be a wasted day. Keep it small and achievable!
  • Express Yourself — This is going to require courage. Maybe it’s that attention-grabbing outfit you always wanted to wear. Maybe it’s speaking up more and getting your idea across. Small steps each day.
  • Stop Hanging Out With Some People — Like Marie Kondo, ask yourself, “does this person in your life spark joy?” If the answer is no, then you know what to do. That’s right, donate them to Goodwill.


  1. His tale of crossing Antarctica was riveting. But how much was fiction? Colin O’Brady says he crossed Antarctica alone and “unassisted.” Polar experts say he’s embellishing his accomplishments in pursuit of fame By Aaron Teasdale
  2. Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter
  3. Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check by John Baldoni
  4. Three Questions to Remove Ego from Decision Making by John Baldoni
  5. How to Keep Your Ego in Check by John Baldoni
  6. The Brain — and Soul — of Capitalism by Nancy Koehn
  7. Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer
  8. Craft a Career That Reflects Your Character by Isaac H. Smith and Maryam Kouchaki
  9. The Psychology Behind Unethical Behavior by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg
  10. Evidence for arrogance: On the relative importance of expertise, outcome, and manner Dataset posted on 06.07.2017 by Maxim Milyavsky, Arie W. Kruglanski, Marina Chernikova, and Noa Schori-Eyal
  11. The spectrum of arrogance, Published October 22, 2019 by University of Missouri-Columbia

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: