Pride Was My Downfall

Category: Weekly Columns

Pride t-shirt

There are a lot of “P’s” that help in life, but Pride is NOT one of them. I often extol the virtues of passion, persistence, and pharmaceuticals (just kidding), but pride is one of those things than usually gets in the way of our success.

I will confess of a time when I let pride guide my behavior and it regularly let me down. One story involved my best friend. This was during the height of my showbiz career and well before I was married and a dad.

We had planned a trip to Thailand with a group of friends. It was to be a trip of great travel excursions and sites, and equally great debauchery. Heck, we were single and AIDS hadn’t erupted yet.

I had a small falling out – over business – with this friend. I got all in a huff and came up with a lame excuse to drop out of the Thailand trip. My pride intruded in what became a self-destructive choice since I missed out – as I heard all too painfully later – on an incredible trip that fully lived up to its billing.

Why? Because of pride. What good did it do me? NONE.

Our kids are growing up with a gigantic sense of entitlement, which I’ve written and spoken about a lot. That feeling (and “feeling” is really the right word!) of entitlement can easily translate to prideful choices and actions. Most of the time, those actions will be completely non-productive. We all know the reasons for this growing belief in entitlement, since they have to do with both our government’s intrusion into running our lives and some (mostly Boomer) parents running their kid’s lives beyond a reasonable extent.

pride cartoon

Pride is about ego. Pride is about thinking we are better than we really might be or need to be. Yes, sometimes we “need” to possess pride. Pride is occasionally useful, but I suggest it is more often limiting. How often has your pride really helped?

Think about your relationships in both business and personally, and how often pride was destructive? I know it’s hurt me much more often than helped. Again, the “don’t take it personally” mantra comes to bear. So often, in personal/romantic relationships, we (e.g. me) take an action or words too darn personally. And, when we do that, it’s almost always got a component of pride!

In my Men vs. Women series, I touch on how each sex brings their own tendencies and prejudices to bear in every aspect of life. I believe it raises its ugly head far too often in our love lives. In the beginning of most relationships, we are hyper sensitive and often very nervous and anxious. It’s natural, of course.

But, that anxiety can translate into prideful self-destructive behavior if we’re not on “watch” for it and not rushing to assume a particular act, word, comment, gesture was derogatory or a personal slam.

The irony is how easy it is to avoid this trap. Ask. Yes, just ask if that comment was meant for you? Or, be more circumspect and ask, “What did you mean by that?” Most of the time we are surprised to learn what was really behind that seemingly personal attack or criticism. So, carrying the anxiety that it was meant for you is simply prideful foolishness and self-destructive.

We all know how kids and teens think the world revolves around them. Heck, my wife says I still think that way! Many of us never outgrow that point-of-view. Of course, I don’t mean me! The world rarely really revolves around us. The world revolves around each individual person’s life. Others come and go but the old expression that you come into this world and leave this world, alone, is the bottom line truth!

When can pride be useful? When we have pride in the work we do, the words we express, the giving we give, the help we provide, we are making the world, both micro and macro, a better place.

Having pride in a job well done is a great trait to possess, as long as you don’t allow it to paralyze you. Having pride in the good works you do in and for the world is not only “repairing the world” but it will bring you joy and unexpected gifts and pleasures. Having pride about the values that guide your life and sticking to them in spite of hedonistic and/or financial self-interest is just a good thing. So, pride does have its place in your life.

Recognizing good and bad pride is part of the journey of self-discovery every person takes. Teaching good and bad pride to our children, in my opinion, is yet another part of the monumental task of being a parent. Teach your children well. And yes, take pride in their accomplishments but don’t overdo it!