Ultimately, it’s what we think of ourselves that determines what other people think of us.  Lately, I’m re-thinking western culture’s taboo against pride.

Where’s the pride?

A client of mine, president of a manufacturing company, was practicing his corporate presentation.  One of my colleagues had upgraded his PowerPoint slides, and now I was coaching him on his delivery.  He was giving good, factual information, but his energy was low and his voice had a sing-song, almost apologetic quality.  After a few minutes, I stopped him and said, “You know what I’m not hearing in your voice?  Pride!  Your father started this business with an invention in his garage, and now it’s a world class company producing world class products.  As a listener, I want to hear how proud you are of that.”

He tried it again, and what a transformation!  This time, he smiled, his eyes shone and his voice had the energy and variation in pitch it had been lacking before.  His whole bearing was vibrant and engaging.  Now he was letting emotion hold hands with information, and what a dynamic duo that is!  Could this dramatic change have happened just because he lifted his internal ban on pride?

A few days later, another client was working on how she offers her book for sale at the end of her talks.  Again I heard the factual accuracy, but low key, slightly apologetic tone.  Again I suggested that if she’s proud of having created this book, the audience needs to feel that energy of pride.  Again I saw the dramatic metamorphosis from drab chrysalis to engaging butterfly.

Why aren’t we proud?

What’s going on here?  Is it just because I’m Canadian, working with Canadians, and we’re notoriously self-effacing?  Or is the tendency more wide-spread?  Why is it so terrible to be proud?  Have we become so convinced of the “sin” of pride that we confuse honest pride with arrogance, presumption or “being pushy”?

To me, they are not the same thing at all.  True pride originates in a consciousness of value.  If you’re truly proud of yourself, self value shines out of you. You enjoy sharing that value with others, but never imposing it.  You have no need to convince anybody else of your worth.


I think arrogance, on the other hand, comes from a lack of self value.  Many years ago, I made it into the semi-finals of the local Metropolitan Opera auditions.  In my heart of hearts, I felt I was out of my league. In my efforts  to hide my insecurity, my show of confidence was “over the top”, because it had no solid grounding in self value.  I know I came across as arrogant and flippant.

I’m acquainted with a person who appears to be, on the surface, supremely self confident.  He speaks of his accomplishments with a vehemence that is almost overpowering.  He seems so convinced of the rightness of his own viewpoint that he comes across to others as overbearing and arrogant.  I don’t think that’s self pride.  I think that’s the exact opposite.  I think that, unconsciously, he’s desperately trying to convince other people of his value in order to try and believe it, himself.

Pride is good!

I believe that unless we’re confident – yes, proud! – of our own value, we have nothing of value to share with others.  When we’re honestly proud of ourselves and of the value of our offering – in the classroom, the showroom or the boardroom – our listeners see attractive confidence and energy, not arrogance.  Your audience will pick up on whatever energy you project.  So go ahead, be proud!

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