You know what they say – “pride goes before a fall”! And in my lengthy experience on earth; that statement is more true than not.
There are many who would disagree, stating that we all need to have a level of “pride” in our skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. To a point, that’s truth. But when does being cognizant of what we do well border on that which we call “hubris”?
The British Dictionary defines “hubris” as follows: 1. pride or arrogance. 2. (In Greek tragedy) an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin. Other dictionary references describe it as “excessive” pride or self confidence; arrogance.
I think you get the picture. Pride in what we have done is one thing – hubris is another. Pride can be as simple as an honest assessment and recognition of a job well done. Hubris, on the other hand, believes everything is done with excellence and perfection – never acknowledging that improvement can be made!
Pride can be a very positive aspect of our personality and character if we don’t permit it to rise to the level of hubris. It’s hubris – the adamant belief that I’m perfection personified, that almost always proceeds a fall. Trust me, it will come whether immediately or at some point in the future.
Over years as a professional therapist and now a mentor-coach; I’ve met and worked with men and women for whom pride-bordering-on-hubris was an Achilles heel. Without exception, that aspect of their personality and character caused problems with family, friends, co-workers and most certainly with organizational leadership. Any hint from others that he or she was not perfect in every aspect was met with defensiveness. Humorously, the arrogance which decried the truth of hubris only served to confirm the “diagnosis”!
Most often, hubris is a thin shell barely hiding a lack of confidence in one’s skills, abilities and accomplishments. If for any reason, I lack confidence; then the only way to hide that from others is to profess perfection. Astute folks will quickly discern what lurks just barely beneath the surface.
Why focus a post on the subject of “pride”? Or better still it’s extreme version known as “hubris”?
Because the kind of pride that masquerades as hubris will negatively impact our business outcomes at some point. While we may have a very successful business financially; we may miss out on other aspects of success for no other reason than our inability to honestly assess our strengths as well as admit and deal with areas of “lack”. Not one of us is perfect in every sense; so best to learn those areas where we can improve and set about doing so.
The other side of the question of whether we’re “tripping” over pride is learning our strengths and being grateful for what they add to our lives – to our business success. Many women who are highly skilled in certain areas are reluctant to accept that truth about themselves. How many times are we prone to deflect honest compliments on a job well done. Or a skill well developed.
As a woman of faith, I used to find excuses for deflecting compliments about my abilities in certain life areas. It took years for me to say (or write) “I am an excellent professional therapist!” It took a highly qualified and well respected professional complimenting my skills over and over for me to accept his assessment as fact!
Either approach to what we are good at is to the extreme. And balance is where we want to be. Somewhere between false humility (which is really a form of pride) and hubris is the best place to find ourselves as women in micro-business – as well as the business of life.
That’s why self-awareness and self-assessment is so critically important to our success. I have to know myself – what I do well and what needs improvement if I’m going to grow into the woman I’m destined to be. And achieve the outcomes I most desire.
There are a number of great tools in the market we can use to learn more about ourselves. Strengths-Finder 2.0 is one that immediately comes to mind.
As we approach year-end and goal setting for 2016; I urge each of us to take a long, honest and hard look at ourselves and put personal growth items on our new year list. Gain greater insight and I assure you that you won’t be prone to tripping over pride or hubris anytime soon.
Linda S. Fitzgerald, CEO & Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
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Source: Strengths Finder 2.0 image from Mighty Girl