[November 20, 2019] The defining of character, which colors our deeds and speech, is what separates this blog from traditional leadership websites. With the study of character we can see those primordial emotions that pull us into an abyss of conceit, vanity, and arrogance. Pride is overindulgence. Pride is an excess that pushes us upward to elation but also downward into the depths of hell.
“Our vanity is hardest to wound precisely when our pride has just been wounded.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher and cultural critic
All humans have flaws. Pride, like greed, is one of the original seven vices identified in Christianity. We all can identify with the idea. When we win a game, get a promotion at work, or receive recognition for a job well done; we are prideful. Yet, pride is the original and most serious of sins; a perversion of dignity and holiness.1
Pride is a dangerously corrupt selfishness. It is the putting of one’s own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of other people. Pride, in particular excessive pride, is the twisting of leadership. We have all experienced a boss who sees himself better than those around him. We have all suffered at the hands of excessive pride in someone who has power over us. We have witnessed firsthand the destructive forces that come about when pride comes into play.
Recent studies of the actions of the heads of governments by Peter Beinart2 and David Owen3 has given us additional insight. Their work shows how pride grows when leaders are put into positions of power. Those in power can become irrationally self-confident in their own abilities and are reluctant to listen to the advice of others and impulsive in their actions.
The Biblical proverb “pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”4 is an ancient and modern view. Pride is that which blinds us and causes us to act in foolish ways that belie common sense. Thus, leaders are particularly vulnerable and should put this lesson learned in their leadership rucksack and occasionally review it to insure they have not adopted pride unseen.