Life Myths #2 – You need to swallow your pride

I’m not going to say anything stupid and cliche in this post like, “Your pride is all you have.”

pride.jpgSomething I overheard today.

On accident.

While eavesdropping on a somewhat heated conversation:

“Just ask him for help already, swallow your pride.”

I didn’t hear the rest of it because I immediately ran out to make fun of these people on my blog.

I’ve heard it a few times myself in this life, “Swallow your pride.” One occasion I remember vividly.

I was in boarding school at the time, hundreds of miles away from my folks, and I’d been blamed for doing something obnoxious to/in the Dean’s office.

God knows, I deserved the finger pointing, as I was an active participant in plenty of shaving cream mishaps, stealing the stuffed moose head that hung in the cafeteria, midnight donut raids on the kitchen and even some fisticuffs to round it all out.

Now, I’d love to tell you what I did to the Dean’s office, but I have no idea. I didn’t do it. But nobody was buying that and I was being urged to apologize for my transgression.

“Swallow your pride, Charlie,” I was told by an older person who should have known better. “Just apologize to the Dean.”

Though I didn’t know exactly why at the time, I knew something was dreadfully wrong with that advice. I’m older now (in years, at least. I still love the practical joke.) and I get why this is such terrible advice.

Don’t teach your kids this

Pride isn’t arrogance or a haughty demeanor. It’s not how much money you have or what you drive. It has nothing to do with being right or winning arguments.

Pride is the quality you put forth and exude into life. It’s the professionalism and feeling of “nothing is leaving my desk if it doesn’t meet my minimum acceptable standard.” It’s part ethics, part communication, part integrity, part desire to improve, part whole bunch of other shit I can’t think of at the moment.

So why is it that when this “swallow your pride” line sneaks into our lives, it’s in the midst of apologizing? Or admitting you’re wrong? Or asking for help?

Are we born with 100% of our pride supply, and then every time we learn something new or take a piece of advice it diminishes the total store?

“Can you help me balance my checkbook?”

“I would, but you just went over your quota of pride-reducing questions. You’re on your own.”

Come on. If you are good at what you do, or intend on becoming good, you learn from everything. Every book, magazine, online tutorial and opinion leader that you can. You keep your eyes and ears open and if there’s even a tiny remnant of sense to what you observe, you steal it and make it part of your arsenal.

It’s not an insult to get help or ask for it. It’s not a insult to your character to admit that you were wrong or to let the other guy win the conversation if he’s actually, you know, winning the conversation.

It’s not a character flaw to pay attention when some truly brilliant person is giving you advice. If you have pride you’ll listen because you want to learn, want to get better at what you do, want to make the best of what you got to give can I get a hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

If you’ve enjoyed saying “Hallelujah!” just wait ’til the next post when we’ll practice saying other words like “intestinal fortitude” and “rhinoplasty!” Subscribe now to be part of the choir!

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