“I’m so proud!”
I’ve often wondered about the meaning of “pride” and the fact that “being proud” can either be a very positive characteristic or a truly negative quality in people, depending on context. My daughter just graduated from college, and of course, I told the world how “proud” I was of her accomplishment. But, wait a minute. I have also always taught my children to be humble and never too “proud” in the way they carry or think of themselves. A deeper dive into the definition of the word helps explain and clarify my conflicting feelings whenever I use this word or see it applied to others.
Dictionaries Have The Answer
The first definition I came across fits those positive thoughts I wanted to share about my daughter: “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements [or] the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated.” Good deal. Nothing wrong with that, right? It was the second definition of “pride” that jumped out to me and always leads to some discomfort when using the word: “the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance”. There’s the one that worries me. Synonyms for this are “haughtiness” or “arrogance”. Yikes! Those would be tough to handle if anyone applied them to our character. Most of us would not think of ourselves as “prideful” in that negative way, but we need to be careful when our behaviors project that type of meaning, even if unintentionally.
King of (The Office) Jungle?
In business, when we are unwilling to give colleagues credit, show patience during a conflict, or celebrate the success of others, it might be a sign that the bad “pride” has crept in to our character. Therefore, we need stay guarded against being too sensitive or allowing work stresses to affect us personally. We must also be able to poke fun at ourselves, take risks, and even deal with the potentially embarrassing consequences when our idea or initiative does not work out the way we planned. If we cannot laugh at ourselves, we might be afraid to make a new business connection, try that new marketing idea, or proactively help another person who is counting on us. I guess the bottom line is that we must be willing to “swallow our pride” to do great things.
A Final Warning
All this said, I took another look at the dictionary and there is still yet ANOTHER use of the word “pride” that we REALLY must be careful to avoid: “a group of lions forming a social unit”. Now, there’s the one we need to be a little nervous about! So, choose to be humble…and watch out for the dangers of (the) “pride”.
Mike Petrusky is an Account Executive for Kayrell Solutions. He has been offering marketing products, services and solutions to clients for over twenty years. You can follow him @MikePetrusky on Twitter.