T Nation

Cocky vs. Humble


It comes up every once in a while. In fact, I'm pretty sure not more than a few weeks can go by without someone on T-Nation talking about the virtues of either being cocky or being humble.

Even TC, in his various Atomic Dog articles, can go from a piece about how we all have warlords and conquerors and what not as ancestors, to one in which he writes about humility being a virtue.

In fact, he even says that the only men who should be cocky are those who have won an Olympic Gold and a Nobel Prize.

My beliefs are centered around masculine values. I believe that intelligence and power should always place higher than bullshit politically correct "my wife might hear what I'm saying" humility and knowing your own place in life.

I believe that true power of mind and body can only be attained through energetic confidence. Some call it being cocky. I have no beef with that. T-men are cocky. All of them. Every last one of them.

In fact, humility is on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, and I won't be the mean guy that tells those of you who choose to be humble boys that, in fact, humility might just be bad for confidence levels. For competitions among social groups. For you sex life.

No, I'm definetly not going to tell you any of these things.

So, cocky vs humble, which do you choose and why.


Humble is much more respectable.

I always admired those who are great at what they do, but are humble about it.

There's a difference between confident and arrogant, but unfortunately it seems that many people don't seem to know the difference.

There's nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and your accomplishments, but looking down on others as if they are all beneath you is just rude and annoying.


When you are humble, you are more receptive to knowledge and wisdom of the world around you.

When you are arrogant, your belief in success overrides any weakness you may have and will help you overcome great obstacles.


I can't really identify myself with either of the terms. In the given context, I guess being confident but not conceited or narrow-minded is the way to go. The whole thing seems to be mostly a question of definition, though.


Good. I wouldn't want this to turn into another 7 page "discussion".

It's of course a question of definition. I stand by what I said, that "T-men are cocky". But I will add that T-men do not consider it a purpose.

People who simulate confidence usually end up narrow-minded.


Arrogance or being cocky breeds contempt.

Humility is the mark of a wise and confident man.

If you have to bestow accolades on yourself you most likely don't deserve them. Those bestowed on you by others actually mean something.


You need both. One or the other may be beneficial, depending upon the context and circumstances.


Haha arguing the definition or "point" where confident becomes cocky is would be like arguing that ronnie coleman is vs. isnt functional.


What if humans (all humans, absolutely all of them) tend to bestow accolades based on behaviour, not accomplishments.

Do you expect people to repect you for your car/house/degrees or for the way you interact with them?


cock?y (kŏk'ē)
adj., -i?er, -i?est.

Overly self-assertive or self-confident.

hum?ble (hŭm'bəl)
adj., -bler, -blest.

  1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
  2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
  3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.

tr.v., -bled, -bling, -bles.

  1. To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate.
  2. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit.
  3. To give a lower condition or station to; abase.

Interesting that you chose terms that operate to the exclusion of each other. I agree with chinadoll that everyone needs some elements of both to be a well-rounded functioning individual.


False humility: self-abasement
True humility: respectful equality

So true humility leads to confidence, realizing that we are all capable of great things. Meanwhile, false humility is employed by those who "want but won't", hoping to flatter another to obtain something in return.


I stand by what I said as well. In my opinion, being cocky (as opposed to simply being confident) rules out the will to learn and view this as a lifelong holistic endeavour and thus goes against the grain of what I consider being a "T-man" to be about. If your definition doesn't entail this, then I guess we agree, at least to some extent.


Well-rounded? I guess you just sounded the death knell for our 7 page debate... :wink:


That seems like a poor definition to me. I think most would agree that being cocky is a surface trait, and involves some degree of boasting. If you are overly self-confident without showing it, then you are a fool. If you are overly self-assertive without showing off, then you are a jerk. My Webster's has:

arrogantly smart; pertly self-assertive; conceited:

which is closer, but still a bit unsatisfying.


Cocky, it would seem, is the man who uses a combination of voice tonality, body language, humour, self-assertiveness and total disregard for the way other males feel***, in order to lead and dominate a group. A man therefore needs definitiveness of purpose in order to be succesfully cocky. If he does not have a purpose, a structure to his actions, he is simply conceited.

***It's quite a well known fact that the dominant male will enjoy the pleasant side of the emotional spectrum and of female attention, while those who aren't dominat will experience the opposite. This is a trait of our race, and of all non-monogamous animals, it has to do with "genetic greed" - the nature of our sexuality. In order for a man to be dominant, he must be able to accept this (mostly instinctually). This is why I view humility as a static trait, one that will make you lose in the big game of human interaction.

You can also read prof x's and others' accounts of office jealousy. See how their peers react when faced with a more powerful, more attractive body.


I don't agree that cockiness is needed or even beneficial for anyone.

As I said earlier, I see a difference between confidence and cockiness; but not between cockiness, conceitedness, or arrogance.

I think confidence is very beneficial, but cockiness, the world could do without.


I've always liked to think of myself as confident, not cocky. And yes, to keep this going, it depends on definitions.
Confidence is more of a quite strength, being sure of yourself but not flaunting it. A confident one feels no need to flaunt his abilities or prove it to others. Somebody who is confident can also be humble, sure of themselves, but knowing they can improve.
Cockiness, to me, implies arrogance. Pridefull, bragging and spitefull are all words I associate with it. A cocky person is quick to put somebody down to make themselves look better. A cocky person often has something to prove, and the strut is an overcompensation for some other weakness. A cocky person is resistant to advice, and rejects the idea that something might be better than the way they are doing it.
Humble, humor, human, humiliate are all related in root. What is humor but the ability to laugh at one's mistakes or ironies? To admit to being human is to admit you are not perfect. To be humble, means you look at things realistically, not putting yourself on a pedastool.
Now, humble does not neccasarily mean submissive. Somebody may have accomplished much, but does not need to brag. "Yeah, that 500lb deadlift I did, it was nothing, just some hard work". That same humbleness can go hand in hand with a sureness that they will lift 510 at the next session. A lifter must maintain some humbleness to have a hunger to improve.
Which do I chose? Cockiness, no, a mix of confidence and humbleness.


I think you can be both Cocky is fine as long as you keep a reality in check.


Were I totally humble, I never would have had the cockiness to play first division rugby in New Zealand, or write a book on steroids (given the failure of so many who attempted the same 2 things).


There is nothing more impressive when someone can do something amazing and make it seem like no big deal.

I liked the downhill, when walchofer got beaten by the french guy, he simply said that he deserved it because he was so much faster than he could have been on the day.

That is a truly great act. he is confident enough to know he is good, and someone really had to be special to beat him, and give the props when it happens.

When he wins, he is much like this too. a great athlete. Confident, but not cocky.