Tripping Over Our Pride?

Another post from the AWI archive of articles submitted for Nancy Becher’s online magazine! Some topics never go out of style or lose their positive impact. The subject of pride is one of them. 

Pride or Something Much More Nefarious?

You know what they say – “pride goes before a fall“! In my lengthy experience in life; that statement is more true than not.

Many disagree, stating we need to take pride in our skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. To a point, that’s truth. However, when does being proud of what we do well border on what is known as “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! Or Who the author of such excellence happens to be!

When Pride Isn’t Pretty!

Pride is a very positive aspect of our personality and character when 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 either come immediately – or at some point in the future.

As a professional therapist and now a counselor, coach and consultant; I’ve met and worked with men and women for whom pride-bordering-on-hubris was their Achilles heel. Without exception, that aspect of character and personality 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. Interestingly, defensive arrogance which denies hubris simply confirms the ‘diagnosis’!

Hubris is often a thin veneer that hides a lack of confidence in one’s skills, abilities and accomplishments. When I lack confidence; the only way to hide that from others is to profess perfection. Yet astute folks quickly discern the truth lurking just beneath the surface.

So Why Focus on It?

Why focus a post on the subject of pride? More specifically, the extreme version known as hubris?

The kind of hubris that masquerades as pride, will negatively impact our business outcomes. We may be financially successful; but miss out on the other aspects of success. Miss out for no other reason than an inability to honestly assess our strengths, as well as admit and deal with areas of lack.

None of us is perfect in every sense. So the best approach is to accept areas in which we need to improve and set about doing so.

Oh Gee Whiz!

The other side of tripping over pride is learning to honestly accept our strengths; and being grateful for what they add to our lives – and the lives of others. Many women find it difficult to accept they are highly skilled in certain areas; too often deflecting honest compliments on a job well done. Or a compliment on a well developed skill. Refusing to honestly accept sincere compliments in order to appear ‘humble’, is actually false pride. 

As a woman of faith, I used to deflect compliments about my abilities in certain areas. It took years for me to say (or write) “I am an excellent therapist!” Finally when a highly qualified and well respected professional consistently complimented my skills, I was able to accept his compliments as an honest assessment of my professional abilities!

Seek Balance, Seek Truth!

Either approach tends to the extreme. Balance is what we want. Somewhere between false humility (which is really false pride) and hubris is the proper place for us as women of faith. In business and personal life; most certainly in our spiritual life!

This why self-awareness and ongoing 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 want. 

One great tool we can use to learn more about ourselves is Strengths-Finder 2.0. I highly recommend adding it to your professional library and use it to honestly assess personal strengths and weaknesses. 

As we approach the close of another year, I urge us to take a long honest critically constructive look at ourselves.

I encourage us to put personal growth activities on our new year’s list and make them a high priority for 2019. As we gain greater insight, I feel certain we’ll be less inclined to trip over pride – be it hubris or false humility!

What we will ‘trip over’ is the truth of our personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Gain a realistic appreciation and acceptance of them, with the deep joy of knowing from whence they come!



Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
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Linda S. Fitzgerald

I have a fiery passion to see women become all they are designed to be - personally and professionally. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness.

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