Pride: Sin or Virtue?

September 29, 2015


“Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence ”

– Jessica Guidobono
 Recently a friend and I found ourselves deep in conversation about some of the things she had been observing in her workplace. Whilst discussing some of her observations about individuals who worked with and for her she made the comment that it was clearly evident who took pride in what they did versus who didn’t. When talking about it further we were discussing how it seemed to be one of those ‘one percenters’ or distinguishing factors that set people apart. Regardless of what it was that they were doing, their sense of pride was apparent – evident in things such as presentation, commitment and communication in a genuine and warm manner.

It got me thinking about the concept of pride and whether or not it is something more than just ‘one of the seven deadly sins’ or a negative emotion as so many regard it to be. Taking pride in who we are, what we do and how we show up and engage every day can’t always be considered a bad thing can it?

There is no doubt that pride can in fact take a negative angle with damaging and limiting consequences both personally and professionally. Often closely aligned with arrogance and superiority, pride is not only potentially damaging to ourselves but also our businesses, customers, clients and the people we lead.

Most of us have been in situations where our pride has got the better of us or we have borne witness to it in others. Not speaking up or taking action for fear of sounding ill informed, being wrong or simply being judged. Not taking on new opportunities because they seem to be ‘beneath us’ or because we couldn’t bear the thought of not succeeding or exceeding. Seeing people refuse to admit to mistakes or acknowledge it with those around them. In each of these scenarios, pride is absolutely limiting potential, undermining self-confidence and leading us down a path of no reward. In short, this form of pride can sabotage our careers and us.

However when pride is not associated with fear or being superior to others but instead in who we are, what we do or what we are a part of, it can drive performance, influence, happiness and self-confidence. When pride stems from a place of feeling good about who we are, we are less likely to be associated with the negative behaviours and attitudes mentioned previously. We are likely to be more inclusive, more tolerant and focused on opening up the world of possibility rather than shutting it down.

Researchers have long debated whether or not pride is good or bad. Ultimately they agree there are two very divergent outcomes. On one hand pride in one’s self, successes and relationships promotes future positive behaviours and achievements whilst on the other hand it can very easily lead to a sense of narcissism, relationship conflict and hostility. One thing they do agree on is that pride occurs in response to internal beliefs and drivers. Tracy & Robbins noted in their article ‘The Nature of Pride’ that we are always operating on a sliding scale of pride and shame. Whilst this may seem extreme their observations led them to conclude that our everyday lives are ‘frequently infused with a sense of mastery and achievement or conversely frustration and failure and we react to these events with self-conscious emotions’.

I am sure if that if we were to stop and consider some of the workplaces we have operated in, we have seen evidence of both outcomes of pride – either in our self or in those around us. Whether it has been in the quality of work produced, the quality of engagement or in the way situations are approached. Learning to embrace the positive aspects of pride – without overconfidence – can and does influence our success.

I would encourage you to take a moment to consider how pride is shaping your career? You can start by asking yourself these 6 quick questions:

Are you proud of:

  1. Who you are and what your natural talents are?
  2. What you do?
  3. Your contribution and the difference that you are making?
  4. Who you work for and with?
  5. How you show up each day and present yourself?
  6. How you operate and in your professional reputation?

Taking pride in who we are, what we do and how we show up each day is critical if we are to maximise our opportunities and personal success and fulfillment. Ultimately pride is a bit like a superpower and it is up to us how we choose to use it: for the power of good or evil.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Margot – The Career DiplomatIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.