Pride Comes Before the Fall

Pride. What an ugly word. Yet, nearly every one of us struggles with it. Pride is what puffs up the chest, strokes the ego, makes us think we are always right and rarely, if ever, wrong. Pride is what tells you that your way is better, your ideas are better, and that you’re the king or queen. Pride is what will ultimately destroy your progress, your effectiveness, and your ability to lead a successful company or organization.

Most people think pride has no consequences; mainly because the consequences are not seen right away. However, there are great consequences for someone who lives a life filled with pride. Think of it this way, people don’t think eating fast food throughout the week is bad. But the more you consistently eat fast food, the worse the consequences become. Soon you are overweight, battling high cholesterol and blood pressure, and are slowly walking the path to a stroke or heart attack. Pride very much works in the same fashion. 

You may not see or feel the negative effects of pride right away, but they are there. People are slowly beginning to see your arrogance, indignation, and dictatorship style leadership. Your team is slowly beginning to waiver in their loyalty for you. Your organization will slowly start to crumble, fall, and become dysfunctional. Your pride is causing divisions within your team. Your pride is slowly making you less and less effective in your leadership and turning you into a dictator and possibly a tyrant. But all of this will happen slowly and almost unnoticeably. So much so, that you will think other people are the problem because your pride has blinded you. You’re leading your company, your organization, to a slow and painful death. 

Pride lends itself to so many other problems: Conceit, Arrogance, Selfishness, Self-absorption, and much more. Again, you may not see any of these characteristics forming, but I promise you they are. Pride has an amazing way of blinding both the heart and mind of an individual. As I mentioned above, the blindness that pride causes makes an individual point fingers and blame others rather than self-reflect and see the errors of their ways. Pride is the gateway drug to utter destruction. However, pride does not have to be the end of you, your company, or organization. Just like your physical health is up to you and the choices you make, your struggle with pride is also up to you and the choices you make.

The first step to dealing with an issue of any kind is admitting that there is one. This doesn’t mean you point fingers and blame others for the issue. After all, there is a high probability that an issue exists because of your choices and your pride. Admitting your faults, issues, and problems with pride is the first step of taking ownership. You are responsible for you. Own up to your mistakes and failures. Own your lack of humility and take the next step in the removal of pride.

The second step is to learn to shut up, watch and listen. Not only will pride blind you, it will also make you tone deaf. You need to learn to sit, watch and listen. You don’t need to have something to say every time. You don’t need to interject your ideas and opinions in every conversation. Instead, sit back, listen to what others are saying, take notes, engage in conversations with a desire to learn. Ask questions. Pride creates arrogance and the falsity of always being right. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not always right; no one is. We all have things we can learn and get better at. We need to train our ears, our mind, and our hearts to listen with the purpose of learning and understanding.

The third step is to find a support group. I’m not talking about AA or counseling. I’m talking about surrounding yourself with people who will call out your B.S. and hold you accountable. This group should NOT be filled with “Yes Men,” but rather people who will be honest and sometimes brutal; because truth can be brutal at times. This group should be people you spend a good quality of time with, people with integrity and are upright in character. These people walk the path of humility and know what it takes. The reason you need this support group is because who you surround yourself with will ultimately shape your own character. Keep that in mind as you choose who you let into your circle of influence. That will be a topic for another post.

Finally, and this may be the hardest one and possibly the deal breaker, step away. Maybe it’s time you take a sabbatical. Take time and reflect, read books from effective leaders, seek outside help, take time to defeat the ugly monster that has gripped you so fiercely. This step is not only the hardest step, because pride will tell you that you have nothing to work on, and people might lose all respect for you, but I argue that people that matter will gain more respect for you when you show you have taken ownership of your pride and realize that you are no longer an effective leader and need time to regain everything you have lost. If you want a good dose of humility, take a pay cut and go work for someone else. Pride is an ugly beast, and depending on how tight of a grip it has on you, sacrifices may need to be considered in order to win the battle.

If you are a leader struggling with pride and a sense of entitlement, I hope you heed the words I have written, and if not mine, because I’m not as famous as others, how about the words of:

Simon Sinek – 

“The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. Great leaders don’t see themselves as great; they see themselves as human.”

Brad Lomenick –

“People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right. Don’t try and be a perfect leader, just work at being an authentic one.”

Jocko Willink – 

“Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”

Sophocles – 

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

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