From Pride to Humility

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Pride comes before a fall.” I’ve always taken that as a warning not to become too prideful lest you succumb to a similar temptation. Or perhaps get so puffed up only to be proven publically not to be the person you say you are.  However, the older I get the more I think it means that pride comes before a fall in the sense that humility comes with maturity and life experience.

Shedding of ego is thus only a theoretical concept. The closest which one can come is to observe, understand and thus regulate, for minimising undesirable manifestations, including pride. Benjamin Franklin writes jokingly about this pride, “….disguise it, stifle it, it is still alive and shows itself… even if I completely overcome it, I should, probably be proud of my humility”.  

Pride is a big problem for any leader. Here’s why:

Pride Leads to Blaming Others
Prideful people always look for someone to blame instead of taking responsibility. If things aren’t working out for them, they automatically assume it is someone else’s fault.

Pride Leads to Closed Mindedness
Prideful people are generally defensive and opposed to new ideas. They are more concerned about improving their position than improving the organization.

Pride Leads to Broken Relationships
Prideful people tend to deflate others because of their insecurity. They take too much credit for victories and give too much blame for losses. In result, they drive away their best people.

However, of all the problems pride causes, the greatest is it prohibits us from learning.

When we are prideful, we lose perspective on everything around us. We begin justifying our behavior and ignoring mistakes. Pride deceives us into thinking that our greatest problem is failure, when the truth is our greatest problem is failing to learn.

How are you doing in this area? Where do you stand on the humility/pride spectrum? 

I have listed some questions that I want you to ask yourself and answer honestly. Just a simple yes or no will help you figure out where you stand:

  1. Do you tend to believe you know it all?
  2. Do you tend to believe the rules don’t apply to you?
  3. Do you think you should be in charge in most situations?
  4. Do you tend to believe you can get everything done without anyone else’s help?
  5. Do you think you are as important/more important than the organization?

If you answer yes to most or all of these questions, you may have a pride problem. But don’t give up! As John Maxwell says, “It’s the finish, not the start, that counts the most in life.” Change is possible for you.

Mistakes can become the best teachers if you are willing to admit them and learn from them. 

Humanity is filled with mistakes. Humility allows us to learn from them.

Here is my favorite story on pride.

Gorelal was a famous sculptor. His sculptures looked real ones. One day he saw a dream that after fifteen days, the demon of Death would come to take him. Gorelal prepared nine statues of himself and when on the 15th day he heard the Demon of Death coming, he took his place between the statues. The Demon could not recognise him and was astonished to see ten Gorelals instead of one. He rushed back to the God of death and told the matter. The God of death got annoyed and set out to take Gorelal himself. Gorelal was alert and stood motionless. The God of Death initially got perplexed. But he thought for a moment. He said, “Gorelal, these sculptures would have been perfect but for one mistake.” Gorelal was unable to suffer the least blemish in his work. He came out and asked, “Where is the fault?” God of Death caught him and said, “HERE”. The statues were faultless but Gorelal was caught because of his pride.

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