Learnings, Realizations

The Danger of Pride

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

C.S. Lewis

As of this writing, I just finished reading Part 1 of “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holand. It is a good book by the way to self-reflect and retrospect if we are already losing battling our ego. I highly recommend that you read it.

While reading the book, I realized that in the past few months, little by little, the arrogance in me is building up. I let my guards down and let the ego in me manifest.

Those little achievements, the good things I enjoyed and currently enjoying, and the praises I received from my family, friends, and work, they are all fuelling the pride in me that I forgot to suppress.

Just because you are quiet doesn’t mean you are without pride. Privately thinking you’re better than others is still pride. It is still dangerous.

Ryan Holiday – Ego is the Enemy

This gives me a punch in the face as it is very true to my current state. I never forget reminding myself to be selfless and always care for other people, including their emotions. That is why I don’t post in my social media accounts the good things I experience (travels and promotion) and acquire (expensive stuff) that might cause envy and depression to other people. But deep inside, I belittle some of them. Having a private conversation with my wife mocking other people we know. On how they make poor decisions, believing in something that I found stupid, and judging them based on my little knowledge about them.

When I saw social media posts of my friends and families on the good things they experience (travel, opportunities, etc) and acquire (new house, new car, etc) that are better than what I have, to be honest, I feel envy. Then my pride kicks in. My inner self keeps on telling me that they are just lucky because they don’t have a family or parents to support, that they came from a well-off family that they can enjoy their whole income and their family can give them the support they need, that some of them engage in illegal and immoral jobs that’s why they earn so much even without any college degree, that the couple is both earning income that’s why they can afford the things they have, that someone gave them an inheritance, and so on… Then I’ll think of them as being arrogant. Trying to show people how well they are.

I know to myself that those are negative thoughts and destructive. But battling it is not easy.

I had a horror of the danger of arrogance. What a pitiful thing it is when a man lets a little temporary success spoil him, warp his judgment, and he forgets what he is.

John D. Rockefeller

My father is an arrogant man. Having rags to riches story, the only one in his family to be able to finish college even without support, and landed on a high-paying job; all contributed to building his pride. And I blame it on him, thinking that it is something that I genetically inherited from him. I don’t want to be arrogant, but it is very hard for me to totally suppress it.

We tend to avoid negativity, people who are discouraging us to pursue our dreams and goals, and people who are doubting our intellect and capacity. But we forgot to cultivate ourselves on how to protect against validation and gratification. We don’t protect ourselves from people and things that make us feel good.

After reading the first part of the book, especially the “The Danger of Early Pride” part, it made me realize that the good things that are happening to me in the past few months feed my pride. That arrogance manifests without me knowing or being aware. We must be on guard against self-confidence and self-obsession.

Pride tunes up negative parts of ourselves: sensitivity, a persecution complex, the ability to make everything about us.

The first product of self-knowledge is humility.

Ryan Holiday – Ego is the Enemy

We need to receive feedback to better know ourselves. Especially harsh and critical feedback. But we should not only take this feedback, we need to labor to seek out the negative precisely when our friends, family, and brain are telling us that we are doing great.

Inspect ourselves, check on the things that make us so proud, the things that we think make us feel so special. With all these things, are we really that special? Do we really need to feel that way? Do we really accomplish something extraordinary? Or is it just something that anyone (or almost anyone) can attain?

Compare our achievements to someone that is greater than us. Compare our struggles to those who are more unfortunate and struggle more than we do. Then ask ourselves again; am I really that special?

If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead.

Ryan Holiday – Ego is the Enemy

Me, being a Scrum Master by profession. Being a servant leader to my team (Scrum Team), coaching them how to be more productive, to work in harmony within the team and outside the team, and translate the team’s goal into something useable and measurable, I need to swallow my pride, and lead by example.

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