Sunday, May 15, 2011

Being Proud of our Work Without Being Prideful About Our Work (or Ourselves).

Recently I taught a Natural Gifts workshop and the question of feeling pride as a barrier to using our gifts came up. When this question comes up, and it is common, I like to draw the distinction between two oft-confused ideas, proud and pride.

When we are proud of our work we do better with our gifts we have been "given", though when we are prideful, we do worst with gifts we think we "have" of our own virtue. T
his is a key difference. When we are "prideful" about our gifts, we tend to hedge, procrastinate, and engage, and more readily resort to defensive reactions.

Proud is rooted in the idea that I have been given a gift and I have a responsibility, as a steward, to make best use of this gift in order to manifest the genius of the giver, first God, then our families then our communities. Pride is rooted in the idea that I am self-made & cultivated and that I can use my gift, or not, based on my own selfish ends. And, yes, I am suggesting that not using our gifts out of fear, laziness, perfectionism, even out of a sense of humility, is a form of selfishness resulting from our failure to get past our own self-absorption to recognize that the "givers'" need for what we have to offer is more important than our need to be safe from looking bad.

When we work from a position of "proud", we are:
1. confident, not so much in ourselves as in the "Giver" and "givers" who have developed our gift in us, though self-confidence should grow over time,
2. persistent, committed to sharpening our gifts over time despite opposition, mistakes and adversity , with a sense of hope in future mastery
3. assertive, looking for opportunities to offer, and offering, our gifts, and yes, even in the face of rejection and (seeming) lack of appreciation
4. mindful of the Source and sources of our giftedness, a antidote to pridefulness, which proud always has the potential of easily converting itself into

When we work from a position of "pride", we:
1. lack confidence and then overcompensate for such lack by being brash, defensive, procrastinators, quitters, etc.
2. lack persistence, assuming that opposition and adversity are the normal weather of getting anything done, and hope in the idea that time improves whatever we practice consistently, for good and for neglect
3. envy others' gifts, believing that what others have been given is innately better than what we have been given, misinvesting energy that would be more productively spent "sharpening our own saws" (Covey)
4. blame others and circumstances for our neglect in developing and offering our gifts, seeing opposition and diversity as a insurmountable unfair impediments, which they are not
5. are unmindful of the Source and sources of our giftedness, and thus succumbing to pride think we are the source, and usually an inadequate one at that.

Clearly, we need more proudness and less pridefulness in the world. The world is starved every time we choose pride over proud. Let's study today to act of maintaining a greater stance of proudfulness, versus pridefulness, in how we go about offering our gifts in the world.