Take pride in your work but remember the big picture

Pride at work Eve Ash

Pride is a very natural emotion – within limits. But maybe in some organisations we don’t get to experience it often enough.

There’s an appropriate time to briefly savour a well-deserved triumph. For some it means gloating; some people never know when to stop pushing themselves and their accomplishments in everyone else’s faces. But sooner or later, that biblical warning is going to be realised – and wham, along comes one of life’s curveballs and over that person or company goes. Perhaps they brought it on themselves; sometimes it appears independently.

When is pride justified?

If you’ve worked hard, planned, lost sleep and, serendipitously, everything went your way, relish the moment quietly. A little humility (not a humblebrag) is called for. Chances are you’re sharing the pride with a team or possibly riding on others’ shoulders anyway.

When you’re thrilled for another person’s achievements, this is quite justifiable, providing you don’t imagine you’re the cause of that person doing well. Even when it’s a relative or protégé, savour their moment in the sun and don’t dive into a “look at me, I’m responsible for this” routine.

You can go one step further and make pride a opportunity to be generous. Others can be the recipient of your success, which multiplies the benefits for all.

When pride gets in the way

Many people may tell you that you or your brand are great, ahead of the pack or in huge demand. You may become blind to the bigger picture, riding the joys of being on top a little too long. But there’s a risk the tide will turn and for whatever reason, your fans will desert you.

Some people in this situation won’t reach out for help, which is a different form of pride. This is when you or your management believe that no one else has the answers to the problem. Sometimes it’s true that when someone makes a mess, only that person can clean it up, but it’s possible to become trapped in a morass of details and subjective opinions. 

It’s very sad when pride erodes empathy — there’s a certain, hard-nosed tone that comes into some chief executives’ voices and communiques when business is going well. It’s a, “this is what we did to get where we are – if others can’t replicate it, too bad”, sentiment that reads loud and clear. It can happen to anyone, anytime.

Take pride in your work, be proud of others working with you, but maintain a healthy big picture view and remember the scenarios that can change everything in a minute.

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