Pride is the small, quiet voice whispering ‘I actually did it. I made it.’
Pride is sharing an authentic sense of self.
Pride is celebrating our imperfections and honouring our achievements.
So at what point does pride become problematic? When does the quiet voice of authentic pride celebrating personal success, become overshadowed by the harsh, dark clouds of voices, bellowing, ‘Look at me. Look how brilliant I am. I am better than you.’
I find it fascinating how this word can be such a dichotomy. For me, pride is a really personal thing. Only we know what makes us proud. Authentic pride comes from a struggle, the challenge faced, the working hard at something. That is different for everyone; we all face different challenges. I’d be proud of myself if I ran 10k in under an hour. But for someone fitter than me, there would no pride in that achievement if they were used to running a sub50 10k. When we are proud of our authentic self, we genuinely want to share the success with others. This could be for lots of reasons – to give hope, to encourage others or to thank those who lived and breathed the struggle alongside us. It might be a text message to a friend, or a phone call to say ‘I did it.’
And it’s so important to acknowledge the accomplishment and the feeling it gives us. The feeling of personal success spurs us on and drives us to go further. True pride builds resilience and strength, which comes from the understanding that you made it through the difficulty, and you will make it again.
As a teacher, one of my goals is to help students to take pride in their own learning. To communicate to them that learning knowledge and skills, is difficult. That it’s ok to make mistakes, and to not get there straight away. For many young people, I think it’s easier to look lazy than to show themselves as finding something difficult. But instead encouraging them, acknowledging the struggle and motivating them to persevere are some of the toughest challenges of being a teacher. But the feeling of accomplishment and pride (both theirs and my own) when they master it should be celebrated, and be the driver to motivate future learning.
So when does Pride mutate from a perfectly acceptable form of self actualisation to something more damaging? At what point does pride transform into arrogance and egotism? And who is it that decides when pride is problematic? The sharer of the pride or those sharing in someone’s pride?
This quote from CS Lewis, for me highlights the darker side of Pride and a reminder that being proud of our achievements alone is not the issue.
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”CS Lewis
The idea that pride becomes destructive when it no longer becomes about self is, I’m sure something we can all relate to. How many of us have seen a post on social media which is less celebrating personal achievement and more the pleasure gained from having more than, or being better than? It’s a fine line. When our accomplishment is compared to others or shared for the benefit of others, pride becomes less about personal best and by contrast is more to do with an inflated sense of self. This is not authentic pride.
But how often is this about our own reaction to others achievements? The problem is we cannot be truly content if we are in competition with others. Either seeking others approval or judging others actions. Often this about our response to others pride, rather than those simply sharing their own pride. Our interpretations of others’ achievements can impact our own ability to feel content and magnify our own insecurities.
We are all unique. We all have our own skills and qualities, strengths and weaknesses. And being honest about these is the best way to experience true pride in ourselves. We need to be our own cheerleaders. And we need to encourage and support our tribe too. Assuming goodwill. We (mostly!) all want the same thing. Or very similar things.
I love this philosophy. And always try to see the best in everyone which is not always easy. I know Gavin Oattes shares this quote often and I think it is originally taken from the all blacks legacy: ‘It’s not about being the best in the team. But being the best for the team.’ Correct me if I’m wrong Gav!
So let’s not swallow our pride. Let’s share it far and wide. If it’s authentic, and if others view it in the way it is intended, without comparison but assuming goodwill, pride can be a positive vehicle to drive improvement, personally and collectively.
Thanks for reading. Have a good week everyone.