“I’m so proud of you.” This is easy to say to someone else when they have reached a goal, accomplished something they set out to do, or overcome a difficult challenge. That is why I’m going to be proud of you at the end of this article if you can say to yourself, “I’m proud of myself.” How do you lead with a sense of pride, and why does it matter that you do?
Think back to where you learned what you know about pride. Perhaps the messages were mixed:
- Do a good job, but don’t draw too much attention to it.
- Work hard, but don’t boast.
- Succeed, but don’t get too full of yourself, or as my parents would put it, “She’s getting a little too big for her britches.”
Being successful and trying not to show it too much is a balancing act that sometimes leaves the important feeling of pride lost in the process. Barbara Frederickson’s research on positivity validates the ten sources of emotional strength that we need to cultivate to create a satisfying life, one that inspires others. Pride makes this top ten list, and is perhaps the one people are most challenged by. But just because overdoing pride can backfire doesn’t mean that we are better off neglecting it.
What is something you feel proud of today? Think of your accomplishments, large or small. My own: I took that walk today instead of sleeping in. I meditated, and have been pretty regularly for about 3 years. I’m writing this article, AND I wrote a book! I am proud myself for these things.
Then I immediately compare myself and it kind of falls apart. Do you compare?
I took a walk, but my brother runs ultra-marathons. I don’t meditate every day like my teacher does. My book is not a best seller (yet!). As Barbara Frederickson says, “The negative screams at us; the positive only whispers.” That is why we have to manually adjust the volume and station we tune in to. It takes practice. Notice when you do it, and cue yourself with: nothing about another person’s success diminishes mine. There’s room for everyone’s accomplishments.
Why is it ok for others to feel proud of you yet you do not claim it for yourself?
We assume others will feel proud of us in the moment and then move on, but we fear that if we allow ourselves to feel pride, it will run away with us. If you’re reading this far, it’s really unlikely that this will happen. You do not need to worry about turning into an ego maniac if you give yourself a couple of minutes a day to say to yourself, “I did well and I’m proud of myself.” Experience it with 3 deep breaths. You’ll move on, stronger and more confident, not impossible to live with. Leaders with this humble confidence pave the way and model for their teams to take pride in their achievements as well.
Join pride with gratitude.
Who supported or taught you? Are you grateful to even your own higher self for choosing well, or doing the hard thing that got you to your goal that you are proud of? Gratitude softens pride without taking away the feeling of accomplishment as it connects us with purpose.
Pride before a fall, beware!
This is fear talking, fear that we will be found to be lacking by someone, creating vulnerability that many would just like to avoid. But here is an important distinction: pride is about recognizing and building your sense of worth, not about seeking outward approval. As a leader (or writer, runner, parent, etc.), there will always be people who don’t like what you do. Become ok with that.
Share the pride.
My husband is an amazing woodworker (I’m so proud of all the things he can make!) He taught me that “proud” is also a woodworking term. When a piece of cut wood is a little too big-as in one shelf is thicker than the others-it is described as “proud.” In woodworking you’d need to trim the proud piece back, but in leadership I interpret it as an opportunity to build the others up. As a leader, do you encourage pride among all of your team? Is there someone who needs you to see and acknowledge them, to build them up through recognition? Ask your team: what are you most proud of in your work recently?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
||In Jo Anne's current role as Organizational and Workforce Development Senior Manager at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) her aim is to offer to leaders straightforward tools and inspire the courage to use them.
Lead the Way in Five Minutes A Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team, by Jo Anne Preston is currently available for purchase.