WHERE IS THE LINE DRAWN BETWEEN A HEALTHY EGO AND PRIDE?
The words pride and ego are so close in importance that occasionally it becomes hard to the point of disparity between them.
Peter is meticulous in every conceivable way. Everything he does is approached with a great work ethic and a desire to achieve only the best results. He has been named Employee of the Year 3 years in a row. He takes great pride in his work, but lately everyone can agree it has been getting to his head. He talks down on everyone, and does not take feedback positively.
When someone does something that is well appreciated, they take pride in it. They feel proud to be associated with the results they have achieved, and rightly so. However, if they begin to interpret the appreciation for the work as something only they can achieve, then, the matter subtly moves from pride in their work, to a negative form of self-admiration or even self-adoration.
So, what is wrong with a little self-admiration, especially if it emanates from being associated with near perfection? Isn’t it rightly earned? No one can argue with the feeling one gets when they seem to do everything right. The celebrity who churns out hit song after hit song, or one blockbuster movie after the other, the mother whose children are best behaved, academic achievers in a respected school or a pro footballer who has been named most valuable player several years in a row. No one can argue with results. Seize the moment, celebrate it to the utmost.
However, when the focus shifts from the results, to the doer, the ground becomes shifty. People do not mind acknowledging the results but seem to have a problem, when the person behind the results wants to be treated like a god. And herein lies the conundrum.
In looking at the 7 deadly sins, Pride features prominently and is described as “excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.” (www.deadlysins.com) Feel free to replace ‘the grace of God’ with other people’s contributions.
It is easy to see how the proud turn others from them. It is not that they do not want to share the limelight with others, it is the fact that they think they are the light.
So where do we draw the line?
- Acknowledge others
Nothing is wrong with accepting responsibility for a good job. Just realize that whether you know it or not other people contributed in a number of ways. Deflect the adoration.
- Perfection is a dream
You may have accomplished a feat others have not managed. But there is a reason why records are broken. The noise of the shattered record is a reminder that nothing is permanent. Do not peg your reputation on transient achievements. They may be great, for now, but if you live long enough greater feats will be achieved. The tungsten bulb lasted long, but LED lights have proved that nothing is permanent. Be modest about your achievements.
- Give ‘time’ time.
One time someone asked their students who Mohamed Ali was. While they meant the boxer, the list of Mohamed Ali’s given did not include him. Before you sing, ‘I am the greatest’, give ‘time’ time.
- Remember Titanic
Billed as unsinkable, the makers of Titanic said that even God could not sink it. Its good to have a healthy ego. See yourself for who you really are. Your view of the future may really be short sighted after all.
When all is said and done, the line between a Healthy ego and Pride should be drawn on the sands of time.