A sense of pride

It can be hard, even impossible as a leader to not be driven by ego. Many of the emotions that drive us are fundamentally egotistical stimulants. As a case in point, ‘pride’ is grounded in ego, and with this can be the root of all evil or the motivation to change the world for good.

It can all depend of the path that is chosen to climb the hill to life actualisation. When pride is done well it fuels the Grit needed to achieve great things, successful careers and to inspire the next generation of change makers.  Yet, pride is also the seed of megalomaniacs and narcissists who may apologetically fail to show any remorse for the shame they should feel.

Research illustrates that an individual’s emotion of pride serves as a motivational incentive to persevere towards success (More >). As the research concludes, ” Although hubristic pride may in fact produce negative social outcomes, the positive nature of specified pride may function quite well to impel individuals to develop valued skills and abilities and, in so doing, to take their place as a respected member of their social communities.”

The flip side is that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and can be dangerous. Pride is a somewhat risky emotion to play with, as it can so easily turn bad.

Pride comes before a fall.”

Even so, research illustrates the positive link between pride and the perseverance, as it can stimulate an individual’s Grit to achieve positive outcomes. For example, a December 2017 study of undergraduate athletes and recreational long distance runners illustrated that experiences of pride are associated with the willingness to persevere to achieve medium to long-term goals. (More >).  “In study 1, state pride was positively associated with grit (r = 0.26, p =.003). No gender differences were observed. In study 2, both global and fitness-related pride were assessed to determine their association with Grit. Inverse associations between global pride and grit were noted for authentic (? = 0.33, p <.001) and hubristic (? = ?0.26, p =.003) pride. Only fitness-related authentic (? = 0.42, p =.003), but not hubristic (? = 27, p =.053), pride was a significant predictor of Grit.”

According to Plutchik’s three-dimensional emotion model, pride sits between anger and joy, and opposite despair. Pride is a complex emotion, from which can come both good and evil. “The emotions of pride and shame occur as adaptive reactions to high and low status in social dominance hierarchies. We argue that pride and shame are secondary emotions that comprise anger and joy, and fear and sadness.” (More >)

An individual’s pride comes back to a sense of achievement. Self-actualisation, striving toward becoming the most someone can be. Likely not all have the opportunity and motivation to such sense of purpose, and the pride that comes from accomplishment.

Pride is the feeling one gets when reaching the top of the mountain, from hard work towards a successful career. Shifting from ambitious young person, lacking self-awareness of the unknown unknowns, and slowly, but surely bcoming a zen master.

The accomplishments of others and ever changing opportunities to make a difference inspires the next generation. Reflecting on our vast education research, some school students are more able to visualise the future that aspires them than others. In one recent study we conducted, high school students found visualising their future career and life challenging. Yet in another, with a more academically motivated cohort, were also coherent about their aspirations.

They were motivated to work hard towards achieving their dream, and had a sense of pride as to their progress, the smaller successes along their journey. The perseverance to continue the effort was occasionally rewarded from which they had a sense of personal pride, likely with a sense of disappointment and despair along the way.

We do a large amount of arts and culture research, illustrating the journey and outcomes from our emerging and established artists. Work with emerging artist programs such as Helpmann Academy illustrate the passion, perseverance and, hopefully, ultimately pride possible from diligently working through the valley of death when self doubt, financial and other hurdles were mocking highly talented  musicians, visual, performance and other artists to just give up as it was likely a doomed destiny. Thankfully support from groups such as Helpmann provide small wins and confidence to be proud in the short and long term.

“It’s incredibly exciting and validating. I feel motivated to create more and I’m now confident I have a future as an artist.” Erin Renfrey

Illustrator Erin Renfrey is imagining a colourful future through her work

I am certainly immensely proud of the contribution myself and Square Holes has played in encouraging emerging artists to be proud of their career choice, and to climb the mountain ahead.

Beyond ego, pride is about having a strong sense of self, and confidence of being yourself, and the values you hold. That you are enough, have rights, deserve respect and are acknowledged for any disadvantage, neglect and ridicule that needs to change.


“To my people, I have always wanted to represent you with pride.” Stan Grant (2:47 in below video)

When done well, pride is a powerful emotion, beyond ego, yet it can also fuel online trolling, persecution and hate crime. Even in a world in which the clarity of right and wrong has been clearly articulated, laws tightening and protections in place.

eSafety Commissioner | Online hate speech

The 1984 U2 song Pride began as a song about US president Ronald Reagan. Bono had lyrics written condemning Reagan for an arrogant pride that led to nuclear escalation, but it just wasn’t working.

“I remembered a wise old man who said to me, don’t try and fight darkness with light, just make the light shine brighter, I was giving Reagan too much importance, then I thought Martin Luther King, there’s a man. We build the positive rather than fighting with the finger.” Bona (More >)

While pride may be one of the seven deadly sins, it can and often is a force for good beyond ego. There is opportunity for all of us to consider the values we wish to abide by, and attaining is a reason to be proud. Who do we want to be, and not wish to be?

Step 1: Find your values

1) Reflect on what’s important to you

2) Review the list and pick your top three values

3) Rank your values

Step 2: Define your values

Step 3: Use your values

(More >)

What does and will make you, your family, your people proud?

Failure to live a virtuous life erodes any sense of pride. The shame of the likes of Rolf Harris or Bill Cosby, likely from being driven by ego and misogyny erode any sense of career pride in such individuals.  When pride goes wrong, is when those who should feel shame show no remorse from wrongful actions. Sadly perversion, hatred, bigotry and anger are also at the heart of many, while others seek the higher road.


A sense of pride likely comes from GRIT, hard work and sacrifice to achieve a goal, and can be the key to personal and community growth. Embrace the positive side of pride.


More from me …

Being both selfish and selfless

The art of saying ‘Thank you’

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