Personal Development

Distinguishing Between Confidence vs Pride— the good, bad and ugly

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Pride and confidence are essential elements of developing a successful long-term career. You rarely come across someone who succeeds in their careers without having confidence in their abilities and pride in their actions. 

One of the greatest factors of becoming successful is differentiating between pride and confidence, and arrogance and overconfidence. By focusing on authentic pride and quiet confidence you will develop long-term career success that outweighs your peers.

It is when we slide between pride and arrogance, and confidence and overconfidence, that we tend to start to make mistakes that can cost us major opportunities within our career. 

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Self-pride is related to self-worth

One of the biggest things I see is people adding more and more certifications and credentials to their names because they feel like they are not qualified enough for the jobs that they want. It is critical to be proud of all your achievements and value each of your experiences, whether they result in “credentials” or not. Lack of self-pride creates endless striving. And this impacts your confidence.

While it’s important to develop confidence in your career it’s treacherous to become overconfident in your abilities and start to miss opportunities to improve. After all, no one is perfect out of the gate. It takes time and we all make mistakes.

Pride helps you feel valuable

According to the Webster dictionary, the definition of pride is:

  1. a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people: SELF-RESPECT
  2. a feeling that you are more important or better than other people
  3. a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.

Pride is important because it allows us a feeling of joy when we accomplish something that we deem is difficult. Pride helps us to feel a sense of self-worth and self-respect. Having pride in yourself allows you to appreciate the strength of your abilities.

Pride is not the same as having a big ego 

And pride does not make you a prideful person. But when you slip from pride to prideful it can be difficult to acknowledge your own mistakes. You start to feel a strong sense of superiority. Pride slips into unhealthy pride when you start to regard your abilities as significantly more important than the abilities of others.

Having pride in your abilities and your achievements is incredibly important to your long-term success. After all, why would you continue to strive to achieve hard things if you never acknowledged the things that you accomplish along the way? And why would anyone else believe in your abilities, if you are not proud of your capabilities? 

There is no joy in achieving something but not recognizing that accomplishment. And that is where pride comes into play. If you’re proud of what you’ve achieved then you’ll continue to strive to achieve more and more. And this creates a positive reinforcement cycle that helps you to become better every single day.

Pride becomes arrogance when it is a testimony to your superiority

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Pride crosses the thin line to arrogance when you use it to remind yourself of how great you are when compared to other people. An arrogant person spends time focusing on how great their achievements are and downplaying the achievements of others.

Arrogant team members are toxic to organizations. They don’t consider other people’s perspectives or opinions and regard their successes as more important or relevant than other people’s. Their big egos get in the way of collaboration amongst teams. You mustn’t become an arrogant team member… even if you know that your contributions make a big impact on the group. Don’t forget, that other people are also contributing to the team’s success. 

Prideful people don’t recognize the hard work of others and feel that their experiences are more important than others. This is inherently problematic when you look at teamwork and the success of groups.

Arrogance often indicates a sense of low self-esteem. 

People express arrogance to cover up for areas where they feel less confident or less capable than the people around them. If you come across someone who constantly draws attention to their accomplishments and minimizing the success of others, then they have likely slipped into a place of arrogance. And it’s probably to cover up something that they feel less proud of or less confident about.

I have these moments frequently. Today I felt guilty for spending a little bit more of my workday away from my desk than I normally would. Instead of reassuring myself that it was okay to relax a little bit during the workday, I felt the urge to message my boss to tell him about one of my big accomplishments from last week. To cover up for feeling “less valuable” because I took it a little more easy than normal, I almost slipped into arrogance.

The only thing that stopped me from sending the “brag” message, was self-awareness about the fact that I tie my feelings of worth to doing more. I knew that my urge towards arrogance was to hide my feelings of low self esteem.

Confidence helps you to take action

If I were to ask you to think of someone that exemplifies confidence, who do you think of?

My father comes to mind for me. Do you think of the Dragons on the show Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in the US)? What makes you think that they are confident? You might think that these individuals have a personality trait that gives them confidence. But this is not the case.

Confidence is defined by the Webster dictionary as: 

  1. a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances
  2. faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
  3. the quality or state of being certain: CERTITUDE

Confidence is the recognition of your strengths and skills. Healthy confidence comes from a deep place of understanding of your abilities. You can be confident that you’re capable of any project that you are faced with. But you know the boundaries of your own efforts. 

Confidence has always been a strength of mine. Sometimes to my downfall. 

Every day I have to remind myself that my confidence (when mixed with my propensity to talk a lot) can come across as bullying and can overpower the more quiet members of my team. Where I see high self-esteem, others can see cockiness. I have to remember to listen more than I talk and to respect the opinions of others. 

Confidence enables you to take action because you believe in your capabilities. 

When you’re confident you believe that you’re capable of achieving whatever it is that you’re confident about. 

For example, I’m confident that I could read a book from beginning to end in a weekend. I’ve done it before I have evidence of my success and I’m sure I can do it again.

Confidence also can be related to a character trait. For example, I’m confident that I can adapt to change if it’s thrown at me even if that change is a surprise. This is because “adaptability” is one of my strongest character traits. I have evidence of where I have been able to adapt to change in the past. And confidence is built on these lived experiences. 

Healthy confidence is developed through evidence over time. 

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A self-confident person is built by being exposed to many different things. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of research that shows that parenting by over protecting overtime diminishes the confidence of children.

Helicopter parenting undermines your ability to develop confidence because you lose the opportunity to rely on your capabilities.

Confidence is a critical part of the workplace. If you are not feeling confident it can be because you lack experience in an area. It takes time to develop confidence in something that you’ve never done before. 

For example, I started in recruitment with a huge lack of self-confidence. I had never done any recruiting in the past so I wasn’t confident in my ability to determine a good candidate from a bad one. But I was confident in my ability to learn and by asking lots of questions and shadowing a lot of people. I was able to learn very quickly how to develop relationships with candidates and figure out good candidates from not-so-good candidates for the roles that I worked on. 

The confidence that I had in one area helped equip me to develop confidence in something that was brand new and foreign to me. Although that confidence took time to build, I had built confidence before and knew I could do it again.

So confidence helps you to adapt and succeed in and outside of the workplace. 

Lacking confidence can feel paralyzing. Think about having confidence that you can safely cross the road. You developed the skill as a child but take for granted as an adult. But you can remember standing there uncertain about if you should safely cross it as a kid. 

Great confidence is not just born it is developed and it’s developed through the hard work of living your life every single day. Confidence helps build or your self-worth because you feel good about yourself when you feel confident.

But there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. 

An overconfident person feels that they do not need to rely on the opinions or thoughts of others. They believe that they are correct and fully capable of doing everything independently. 

An overconfident person is likely to run across the road when fast cars are driving by in the belief that they’re not going to get hit. Where confident people will ask for support, an overconfident person might take an unnecessary risk. They will take bold strategic bets without checking their strategy first. Their overconfidence leads them to make rash decisions. 

Overconfidence can get in the way of your career growth. In fact in the early stages of your career the balance between confidence and overconfidence, pride and arrogance can help to determine your long-term success.

Pride and confidence can hinder or propel you

By knowing the difference between pride, arrogance, confidence and overconfidence you create self-awareness that you can use to mature in your career. While no one likes to slip into the negatives of these traits, understanding your tendencies helps you to harness your pride and confidence in positive ways, playing a vital role in long-term career success for yourself and others.

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