"Whatever your life's work is, do it well." Martin Luther King Jr.
He called me over to look at his completed work. I have to admit that I didn’t really know what to look for. He and his team had just completed the installation of a new air conditioner for us. It felt like 100 degrees outside so I was feeling more than ready for his work to be finished. Before I could sit down and enjoy a burst of cool air, our contractor wanted to walk me through what he had done.
The young man he was training was there as well, his face red after working outside in the heat all day. After going over several details, the contractor said, “I always tell my men how important it is to take pride in their work.” I suddenly woke up to what he was saying. I had not heard anyone say that in a while. Maybe it is something we need to hear right now.
Any parent knows you need to be careful about how you use that word — proud. We want to make sure our children know we are proud of them for who they are more than for what they do. Carol Dweck* has emphasized this as she promoted the idea that we want to teach our children to have a growth mindset; to be proud of their efforts more than talent or success.
We also know that pride can be a bad thing. It’s not easy to recognize the darker side of pride within ourselves — the way we put ourselves before or above others, even God.
I learned recently that there are two words for pride in Spanish - soberbia (negative) and orgullo (positive). Researchers and psychologists often point to the positive side of pride.** A healthy sense of pride can contribute to self esteem and maturity. As our contractor shared, doing work you are proud of can be a good thing. It’s all in the way you go about it.
Pride can be a good thing when…
we focus on giving our best. We can try to provide quality work, doing our part to make things better.
We can be dedicated to completing the tasks set before us well and persevere with benevolent excellence.
we have an attitude of service and humility. We can acknowledge that our choices and actions affect others. We can be humble, acknowledging where we need to learn and accept help from others. We can notice and celebrate the efforts and achievements of others who have gone before us or who are working with us.
When we see a need, we can respond wholeheartedly, perhaps even going beyond what is expected for the sake of others.
The work we do and the way we go about it are important. It is a reflection of who we are. Working with pride in a good way shows you are trustworthy and dependable. It can improve your relationships with others as they value you and what you share.
Doing quality work with an attitude of service and humility can lead to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in a job well done.
It can be something you’re proud of.
* The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
** For example, “Pride Can Be a Virtue, But It Needs to Be the Right Kind of Pride” by David Desteno, ideas.ted.com