noun. a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired; confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.
Being proud. Having pride.
Why is pride seen as a flaw rather than as a virtue? Why does it have negative associations?
Is it because of messages like this:
“Pride is the mask of one’s own faults”.
When we started #WomenEd 5 years ago we encouraged our burgeoning community to be #10%Braver. Based on the marginal gain theories it was about flexing our confidence and incrementally growing our self-esteem. We collectively made steps in the direction of closing the confidence gap.
We realised quickly as we heard whispers of successes, as we received DMs about promotions and as we shared verbal anecdotes about impact that as a group of women leading in education we were uncomfortable in sharing our individual progress.
As a community we happily championed, celebrated and amplified the achievements and accomplishments of others but we felt deeply uncomfortable self-promoting our own wins, big or small.
We thus invited and encouraged others to be #10%Prouder. We wanted the emerging role models who were overcoming obstacles and barriers, to come forward, to step into the spotlight, to become visible for the community to celebrate them. This made many people feel deeply uncomfortable and inwardly cringe.
As a culture we have instilled in our children that having Pride and being proud is bad. As a society we have taught girls and women to be modest and humble, not to revel in their accomplishments. As a system we have trapped people in keeping their heads down and getting on with their jobs, quietly, modestly and humbly. As a structure we have made people invisible and we have fuelled their self-doubt.
I should add the word ‘some’ to those statements as research shows that it is some demographic groups who have been taught to ‘stay in their lane’. Women and under-represented groups are the main groups being held-back, by these external restrictions and these internal inhibitions.
“Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right”.
There is a tension here. Who is right v what is right. It is right to be proud. It is right to showcase everyone’s talents.
We need to collectively and individually tackle these cultural, societal, systemic and structural obstacles that are inhibiting us. There is nothing wrong with being proud, we just need to be mindful of the fine line between confidence and arrogance, and the fine line between self-promotion and bragging or boasting.
It has been fascinating becoming an #IamRemarkable facilitator and a privilege to spend time with highly-accomplished, highly-successful, high-achieving people who cower at the thought of sharing their accomplishments and achievements for fear of being judged. We are worried if we show that we are proud that it will expose us before we fall.
One of the messages I share with those in the workshop is that: “It isn’t bragging if it is based on facts”.
I am sure we can all think of negative role models when it comes to people who are proud. I have worked with people where their pride is bigger than their heart and their ego is bigger than their head. And yes their sense of pride jarred me. We all know and see the Peacocks of the world who puff out their chests and display their feathers.
“Proud as a peacock” is a saying that is used to mean a vain or self-centered person. The phrase comes from the plumage of the male peafowl (females are peahens). When a male is courting, he spreads his tail feathers, sometimes five feet in length, out in a fan pattern to attract a female.
But being Devil’s Advocate: Why shouldn’t a peacock be proud of its plumage to attract a mate? In turn: Why shouldn’t we be proud of our successes and take a moment to revel in everything we have achieved?
Surely the issue is not about having pride, but how we show we are proud? Being happy, fulfilled and proud is not the same as being arrogant or boasting, bragging.
As teachers we are proud of our students. As leaders we are proud of our teams. As parents we are proud of our children. As humans we are proud of our communities. Being proud of others is good, but being proud of ourselves is bad?
It just does not make sense.
I am all for being humble and being modest. I know many remarkable people who just do not know how amazing, talented, admired and loved they are – this is an endearing quality but it is also frustrating. Frustrating because you can see that untapped potential. Frustrating because if only some of my friends, family and colleagues could see themselves as I and others see them.
“Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go”.
There is much to be proud of right now. We should all be proud of ourselves and of each other. So let’s give ourselves and each other permission to appreciate how much we have done and how far we have come.
Who are you proud of? Have you told them?
Let’s build each other up rather than tearing each other down. There is enough of that in the world already.
Let’s fly a flag to celebrate each other’s achievements and accomplishments. That is what Pride is about isn’t it? A collective celebration and sharing of confidence and self-respect from a community.
And are you on your own list? What should you be proud of?
I am proud of being a teacher for 18 years. I am proud of being a start-up Headteacher. I am proud of relocating by myself. I am proud of being a Governor. I am proud of starting #WomenEd. I am proud of contributing to a few books. I am proud of resigning from things that no longer serve me. I am proud of buying a house. I am proud of surviving gardening leave. I am proud of going travelling by myself. I am proud of blogging every day in lockdown. I am proud of starting my own business. I am proud of starting the#DailyWritingChallenge.