Skills and arrogance

Could you explain what ‘Knot Theories in N-dimensional space’ is?“, I asked while we walked down the stairs to the ground floor and down the long corridor to the soda vending machine. The Chemistry Department at Oslo University was the venue for the weekly meeting in the role-playing association. It wasn’t much fun to have John Rognes as one of the players in my role-playing world. He was far above anyone I’ve known when it came to problem solving and getting the player characters out of a tight spot. It seemed to passify the other players. But that night I at least got to pick his brains about the passion that brought him mathematical fame. At age 18, he had won prizes in several European countries for his theories that only a handful of people would understand. He was a mathematical genius at the age of three and excelled in math and natural sciences since.

Sure“, he said, “It’s easy“. He then went on to explain his theories in less than 10 minutes with a simplicity that even my grandmother could follow. I was stunned. I still am. And on top of his obvious genius, he was a fun and social guy. And bereft of arrogance.

I sometimes wonder why Brendan doesn’t display any arrogance. He has a remarkable background with amazing stories from Northern Ireland, plays golf like a pro, can easily make a living as a street entertainer with juggling and magic, competed in the World Championships in Foosball, beats the crap out of me at the pool or snooker table, is the most excellent instructor I’ve met, runs half marathons… etc. Everything the guy touches becomes a product. And he is a social and fun guy to be around.

Maybe the lack of arrogance is because Brendan doesn’t need to prove anything. Just like John. And so many other guys with great skills who are just confident at what they do. Not looking confident and having to prove it, but just being confident.

28 thoughts on “Skills and arrogance

  1. I concur about Brendan – he made quite a splash with my family as did you and Anette. None of you display any arrogance and that made my slightly starstruck gaze a little easier to focus. Brendan has a very smooth communication, listens so as to make you think you are the only one in his life. His responses to my ramblings were precise and concise and left me feeling very heard.

    And I envy your story about meeting John Rognes. I can see that he has quite the sense of humor as the “Acknowledgement” page of his first published paper on “Torus Knots. . . ” he writes, “I have written this essay on a typewriter belonging to the Department of Mathematics of the University of Oslo. I gratefully acknowledge this loan.” LOL! I like this guy already.

  2. My grandmother always said: “An intelligent man will never be an arrogant”. Brandan is full of neurons and synapses, so it’s normal to behave properly. PS. My only regret is that he didn’t allow me to follow him on Twitter.

      1. Nope. I’ve checked one more time, it appears I need Brendan’s approval for following him. Since 2 or 3 months ago (approx) the status is “Pending”.

      2. @3310bren’s tweets are protected.
        Only confirmed followers have access to @3310bren’s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.

        1. Oh wow. I didn’t know one could protect one’s tweets. I’m not that savvy on Twitter…

          Brendan, consider this a request for opening up on Twitter 😉

    1. I stopped posting on Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn for three main reasons:

      1. I feel I don’t have so much believable stories to write about for others to read. The ‘unbelievable’ stories are better when I tell them 🙂
      2. I started writing more for myself. Maybe this will be published in the future but not just for publishing reasons alone.
      3. I can spend more time reading then discussing crazy ideas with the amazing Geir

      So on social media, I turned the settings to private but nothing is being posted there at the moment. I will probably post more to A-Circle page on Facebook in the near future. If you wanna kick-start some ideas to write about, please feel free.

      I love meeting new people so if you are in Oslo, let’s meet for a coffee.


      1. Hi Bren! Agree and respect your option. I’m a vivid reader too. To be honest, I thougt you’ve locked your tweets because of spammers or intruders. One day I’ll be in Oslo, we’ll meet that time for sure. Take care. Dragos

      2. Good example of Brendan’s self effacing attitude and demeanor. He listens a lot, but when he does talk clear and cogent ideas come out, I am still working a couple good ones he gave me. His own personal story about his life growing up in Ireland and migration to Norway are riveting.

      1. Brendan: “Believe me I don’t always behave properly…. whatever that means ”

        Generally it means that: a) you’re human, b) you’re real, and c) you’re more fun to be around.

        Sort’a sounds like how Geir describes you.

  3. I see arrogance as sort of like worshipping putting the ego up there on an altar and making amends to it and worshipping it. And humility as reducing it. I don’t like either. I think no consideration about those things is the best.

  4. I like this idea!
    Something that I have to understand and learn… definitively knowledge will be the path to self-confidence, not to arrogance. Thks!

  5. Arrogance is a protection mechanism. Fueling it’s persistence is a fear of being perceived as “not knowing.” It really is a developmental disorder and is not necessarily connected to being educated or confident in a subject or not.

    I have met many experts in some field that were arrogant.

    How do I know? I have dissected my own arrogance and found these things.

    Arrogance is always fending off challenges or overpowering opposing or competitive views.

    And underlying it is a need to be perceived as the “knower” and “in control.”

    It is really a deep seated belief that ” I am not enough” “I am inadequate and can’t let on to others that this is what it is like in this head of mine.”

    The uncomfortable feelings we feel around arrogant people is really them projecting energy and lack of comfort through the filter of their intellect. Their intelligence then acts as a smoke screen as they can dazzle with their ideas while making your ideas seem invalid.

    The negative ego is a hard nut to crack.

    1. Interesting words Brian! I agree with you. Now, I have to dissect my own arrogance and see what comes out from it. Maybe I’ll hate myself at the end ha ha, but is a good start.
      David MT

      1. The “I will hate myself” Dave is only part of the content. Part of the mental environment that keeps these things repulsed from a close inspection. Actually, after you do the work you will feel good about yourself!

        Being wrong comfortably and confidently is a very healing way of feeling right. 🙂 That one was a hard won realization for me. I had to deconstruct the need to be right. And the content that seemed to bar me from a comfortable close inspection was a subtle fear at being perceived as wrong or stupid.

        i love learning about these things. it helps me neutralize the silly noise in the monkey mind.

        1. Brian: Being wrong comfortably and confidently is a very healing way of feeling right. 🙂 That one was a hard won realization for me. I had to deconstruct the need to be right.

          Chris: I feel you brother. Let the pendulum continue to swing.

        2. I’ll do and also the idea about deconstructing my need to be right, sounds great, cause I have always had the need to be right, as if the true were only on my side.
          Greetings from Mexico city.

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