Pride – Do you love it or hate it?

Pride - Commstorm

Pride has a bad reputation. I used to think it was a Canadian thing, but if you look at quotes on pride, they typically come with dire warnings no matter the country of origin. Pride comes right before you fall, fail, fool yourself and f… screw up. Pride is arrogant, egotistical and vain. Pride is lazy, loathsome and generally uninteresting, on and on it goes.

The thing is, I love the sense of pride I had last week when I sent my husband off to Umea, Sweden to present his thoughts on information design to an international gathering.  I really like that mildly euphoric feeling that swells your chest and elicits a huge teeth-bearing grin that encompasses your face. I was overcome by a similar feeling later in the week as I watched a play put together by my daughter and her fellow students. The play, a musical production, left me amazed and in awe, at their cleverness, focus and imagination. I was pretty proud of their teacher too.

 “I’m so proud of you that it makes me proud of me. I hope you know that.”
― John GreenWill Grayson, Will Grayson

Pride is that wonderful emotion that keeps you focused on your job and attentive to details that know one will ever know you cared about, but will be evident in the work you produce.  Pride is such a critical part of the joy we have in our work, that as employees and employers we always have to ask ourselves, are we proud of what we are doing? If not, then what needs to change?

I was asking a colleague to pass along a project she had started to another person and I could see she was not keen on my suggestion.  To be honest, she looked crestfallen.  When I raised the issue again she said that the project meant a lot to her. She had discovered a solution to a long-standing problem and wanted to see it through to the end.  What she said was, “I want to complete this project and know that I accomplished something from start to finish.”

I had been gearing up to gently chastise her for taking on more projects than she could handle, but as I looked at her and reflected on all of the projects that we were managing, I realized that I would be making a critical error if I insisted.  She had pride in her work. She quite correctly wanted to do a whole job.  We were in the midst of a series of long projects that would stretch out over months and in many cases, years.  Her statement reminded me of some basic elements of Lean business practices.  In a nutshell, we are more productive and more engaged, more proud of our work when we complete whole jobs.

Imagine getting three people to build a blog. One person would be in charge of content, one in charge of visuals and design and the third would be responsible for the technical function of the website. Now have them build without talking to one another.  How do you think the blog might work? Introduce a fourth character, the website owner. Think they will like what they find, probably not. In order for the website to meet the demands of form and function, there would have to be collaboration, a plan and a shared objective. Having pride in your work means investing in the process and the outcomes.

How much pride would you have in your work if you had clever content that was all but obscured by inappropriate graphics and images? What about a beautifully designed blog with rubbish for content or content that was out of step with the design? Better still; imagine how much pride you would have if you had no idea why you were doing what you were doing?

Now you might get the impression that  I think pride always a good thing, but that’s not the case,  while pride is an amazing motivator, it can also be an obstacle or even a complete barrier to accomplishment.  When our pride prevents us from asking for help or taking action when it is required then the same emotion that brought euphoria can become an oppressive weight preventing us from moving forward and achieving success.

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Pride can also make us do things to meet other people’s standards, expectations or acceptance.  This is one of the most pointless forms of pride because it requires so much effort and focus for things that mean so little to us. When it’s really out of control it makes us do things that are counter to our own interests, like stay in a marriage or job that makes us miserable.

“Too many people spend money they earned… to buy things they don’t want… to impress people that they don’t like.”
― Will Rogers

So do you love or hate pride most of the time?  Does being proud strike you as noble or foolish?

“Image courtesy of panuruang /”



0 responses to “Pride – Do you love it or hate it?

  • hi debra; your post does make me think of pride in a whole different way. I would think pride is a positive to me most of the time. I have rarely had trouble with the pride mentioned in the will rogers quit. I am very proud of my blog and couldn’t imagine being part of the situation you outlined here. thanks for sharing and take care, Max

  • Arleen says:
    June 20, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    Oh yes pride doe have that double edged sword.
    Pride can be a beautiful thing. Having pride in who you are, in what you create, in your decisions, and in what you believe can be a beautiful thing.

    But pride can steer you astray as well. It can lead you to do stupid things because your pride gets in the way of the right decision.

    When I saw your image it made me think of my dad because he would always say he was proud as a peacock about her daughters.

  • Pride is a double-edged sword that needs to be have a healthy dash of pragmatic attitude to keep it in check. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of something one puts a lot of effort into, but when they brag, it does cross over into hubris… and we all know what happened in Antigone.

  • I am proud of my sense of pride when I complete a project. Nothing shameful or negative at all. Last year, when my daughter graduated from high school as valedictorian, 4.6 average, full International Baccalaurate diploma, I was beaming with pride. Because I had a part in raising her and helped to lead her down the right path. Yes, she completed the work independently but she is a product of my guidance. I give her full credit, for sure, but was literally beaming with pride!

  • Great subject. We all know when we have done something well. The problem is when we feel the need to brag about it.

  • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with healthy pride in yourself and what you can do. It’s also good to be proud of your family and friends who accomplish good things. Healthy pride leads to good self-esteem. We shouldn’t err on the side of not having any pride, and thus low self-esteem, but we definitely shouldn’t have so much pride that it leads to arrogance, either.

  • Seems to me that the good part of pride is being invested in what we are doing. In being bought in, and interconnected with a project and our fellow humans, and doing it for the sake of contributing — all of that, rather than holding ourselves separate.

    And I think that the downside of pride is when we make that investment and buy-in all about US, and a way to puff up our ego, rather than seeing ourselves as part of the whole. Because that attitude sends us into separateness, rather than connectedness.

    — my two cents. Thanks for another thoughtful post that grounds us in our values, Debra.

  • I guess I hate pride for the most part, especially pride in myself. I do think it’s arrogant to toot my own horn so loud. Now pride in others, in the people I love and care about, I feel is a whole other matter. In those cases I feel that I’m putting a boost on to the love I feel for others, when it’s warranted, of course. Misplaced pride I think of as being ugly.

  • Debra — love this topic. I think it’s perfectly legitimate and even uplifting to feel genuine pride in something you’ve done. It could be work related, but it could also refer to doing something for a friend, or donating to a favorite cause. Of course, false pride is unacceptable, like taking credit for someone else’s work. Maybe you’d like to tackle the topic of generosity. Should we take pride in being generous or is that “too prideful?”

  • People have lost their pride in so many instances. Maybe because it has been touted that it’s not so good? Truthfully, pride can grow to arrogance, or as you state, vanity.

    But how ARE we going to help people realize, there is a helpfulness to pride? I do believe it’s missing in many people today.

  • I see the difference as being between pride and vanity. Vanity being an empty pride, a puffery of the ego that will lead to trouble. Pride in and of itself is important when balanced with humility.

  • Gosh, pride can be so many things and a double edge sword. Pride can be driver that helps us succeed or accomplish a difficult task. When pride prevents us from taking advice or help when it’s much needed is not a good thing. To me, being proud of someone who succeeds at something is a good thing. It’s very uplifting. I could say so much more, but in the end I so agree with all that you’ve said. 🙂

  • Hi Debra. I believe that pride over what has required hard work or creativity by oneself, loved ones or friends is positive and motivational if the celebration is of improvement over previous performance. I find it almost universally negative if it is in comparison to others or if it is for a natural skill or coincidence of birth that has not required effort to develop. Naturally, much depends on how it is manifested.The issue of dividing the credit for a team accomplishment is more complex because the opinion of others comes into play and career prospects etc may be affected by an unfair allocation. From senior managers we expect that accomplishing the task should over-ride neediness for credit and the personal fulfillment of doing it all themselves.In more junior people who might have less other opportunities for personal fulfillment it is a delicate matter and if it does not materially delay the objective I think the greater good often arises from accommodating them.

  • Pride can be both positive and negative. And it’s definitely a global phenomena. Agree completely about the positive aspects of pride you mention. But there are far too many people who “cannot do whatever because of their pride”. People kill each other because of pride. Honour killings are probably the worst example of all.

    Sometimes it can benefit you to swallow your pride and let a jerk walk all over you. Or to re-phrase it, he thinks he has, but has he when you allowed him?

  • ballnchainz says:
    June 17, 2014 @ 07:52 am

    Like you said pride is s good thing and also can be a bad thing. Taking pride in your work is a great thing, having to much periods while in a relationship could be destructive. Beyond to prideful or stubborn to say sorry or admit that your wrong has been the downfall of many. This was a very good article and a great read.

  • It’s a loaded word, that’s for sure! Personally, I like the example(s) that you showed pride as it relates to joy for another…your husband, your daughter. That is such a great feeling! But I agree that when pride becomes stubborn, it can become an obstacle…like the guy who will never stop to ask directions:) But I also think one needs to keep personal pride in check, lest it turn into hubris. The worst is when someone takes credit for your accomplishment…that is a pride robber for sure. I think they should be shot 🙂

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