I came across an article where a banker left a 1% tip in defiance of “the 99%” at a restaurant. According to his dining partner, the banker “tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server does not sufficiently bow down to his Holiness.” He also makes sure to include a “tip” of his own. This “tip” was to tell the server to “get a real job.”
Clearly, there are all kinds of people in this world. But it is the dangers of pride that concerns me here. Pride can happen to anyone, not just the rich and powerful. If we allow our pride to get the better of us, our downfall is not far off.
Quick Note: Thanks to the heads up by my friend Vishnu Virtues, it seems that the receipt is a hoax. This is good to know because the server did not actually have to put up with such a nasty customer.
What is Pride?
Wikipedia defines pride as:
“A loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.”
The following definitions come from dictionary.com.
“A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”
“Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.”
Breeding Grounds for Pride and Arrogance
To manage pride, we must be aware of the conditions where pride can grow and thrive.
1. Times of Success
Repeated success can make one proud. After all, everything is going well and it seems that you can do no wrong. Over time, pride can get the better of you by making you complacent. This is especially so if good times or times of ease follow your success.
But bad times follow good times as surely as day follows night. As tempting as it is, we cannot assume that things will always go well. Such an attitude can cause us to be unprepared to manage a sudden change in fortune.
2. Positions of Power and Responsibility
To rule is to serve. But it is easy to forget this when you hold a position of power and responsibility. Power can corrupt and pride can get the better of you. Over time, you might think that you are entitled to certain privileges because things would collapse without you. Instead of putting the interests of others first, you may end up putting your own interests first.
But the higher you climb, the more drastic your fall can be. After all, when you have reached the top, the only way left is down.
The Dangers of Pride and Arrogance
Having seen the conditions where pride can grow and thrive, what then are the dangers of pride?
Repeated success dulls your sharpness and makes you complacent. There is less incentive to be alert and careful with your approach and methods when things are going your way. After all, if it is not broken, why fix it?
But here lies the danger. An approach might work for one set of conditions but not another. If you become less than thorough in your plans and execution of your methods due to pride in your ability, it could lead to trouble.
2. Careless and Needless Mistakes
During times of adversity when you struggle for survival, there is no room for pride. As such, your methods, forged in the trials of hardship and necessity, are the best. You would quickly discard methods that do not work and keep those that do.
But pride can cause you to make careless and needless mistakes due to a lack of prudence. You may trust too much in your ability or underestimate the situation. As such, you may not be as thorough or as cautious as you used to be. This lack of caution can lead to a disastrous turn of events.
3. Loss of Awareness
Pride can insulate one from well-meaning advice. The last thing a proud person would want to hear is something that cuts him or her down to size. The very idea that they can be wrong or make a mistake is sacrilegious. To utter such words is blasphemy!
Proud people live high up in their ivory towers. They are unaware of all that happens in the realm of mortals. When unpleasant truths confront them, they either filter them out completely or hear and see selectively. This loss of awareness will bring about their downfall sooner than later.
4. Alienate People
One of the worst things about pride is that it can alienate people. Making boastful claims or boasting about your success, connections and power will not endear people to you. Also, it will not do your relationships any good if you hog all the credit for yourself. Such actions will only create resentment and turn people against you.
Proud people often find themselves without friends or support. This state of affairs can hardly turn out well for them.
5. Overreaching and Falling
Pride can cloud your judgement and make you lose touch with reality. As a result, you might end up striving for things that you think is possible, but in reality is beyond your reach. This could simply be a matter of a lack of caution and planning. Or it could be a matter of timing. In either case, the result is failure because of overreaching.
It is said that pride comes before a fall. This fall can be fatal if you overreach, lose your footing and fall from the height of your success and power.
Managing Pride and Arrogance
Everything in this world is impermanent and fleeting. Nothing lasts forever and fortunes change constantly. So whatever we feel proud about will one day change as all things change. What then is the basis for our pride?
While it is good and healthy to feel pride in our achievements, we should not let it get the better of us. We should not let our pride go to extremes. Instead, it pays to be moderate when it comes to feeling pride. The Universe helps the modest to prosper but brings down the arrogant.
Is there anything I have missed out about the dangers of pride and arrogance? What are your thoughts and feelings about pride and arrogance? Are there any redeeming qualities? Is there any room in this world for pride and arrogance? Have you ever met any proud and nasty people? How did that turn out for you?
Have you ever struggled with pride? How did it turn out? What areas of your life do you find it hardest to manage your pride? Does your pride get the better of you or are you in control? Do share your thoughts and comments below!