“…there is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself, you will see it perhaps, often in this history, for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” -Ben Franklin
What makes pride so insidious is that it doesn’t take us down from our place of weakness, rather it hits us in our place of strength. We lean into the areas in which we excel, the things that give us energy, the attributes that make us unique. We employ our strengths, we see our own growth and that of our teams, and the successes start accumulating. Our vision is in sight or maybe even realized. If leaning into our strengths this much is good, then surely leaning in even further must be better.
Then it happens. We are so enamored with who we are and what we are doing, so certain our way IS the highway, that we stop listening, stop looking, and stop questioning. From this perch feedback isn’t required and our judgement is the only “learning” we believe necessary. We overcook our strengths and then come tumbling down. As former White House staffer Dick Morris put it, “everybody who turns 40 should read the Greek tragedies. They all have within them the same idea: the thing that may have helped you move up then destroys you.”
Before pride burns down your house, here is a partial BTL prescription for building some humility from our “12 Essentials of Personal Excellence” playbook.
Find and admit where you are prideful. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Be transparent with your weaknesses. Ask others for help. Seek feedback from truth tellers. Practice gratitude. Keep your strong CORE in perspective. Give praise freely to others, even those you compete against. Celebrate the success of others. Ask more questions, give less content. Listen. Really listen to hard messages from those close to you. Adjust your mirrors to find your “blind spots” and seek other peoples’ help in illuminating them. Share credit freely with other people. Stop ALWAYS seeking justice. Start practicing unmerited forgiveness.
What can you “and” to our prescription?
Which of your strengths is running a little hot these days? If you are having trouble finding one, don’t be too proud to ask a truth teller to help you locate a blind spot or two.