I was signing up for a coaching group a few years ago. The desire was to improve in my leadership. The group was great and I learned a lot. However, there was a questionnaire to fill out so the group facilitators could get to know you and find out what areas of your leadership you needed help with. One of the questions on the form was “what are your blindspots?” My snarky response was “I don’t know. That’s why I’m joining this group.” We all have blindspots and the problem with blindspots is that they are problems we don’t know we have. I heard Andy Stanley say once that “pride doesn’t show up in the mirror.” We don’t tend to look at ourselves and see accurately when pride has entered our lives. Pride is difficult to spot, but here are three ways you can spot pride:
- Inconsistent results
Here’s the scenario: A leader asks you to take on a project and produce an outcome. You take on the project and bring it to a completion, but the end result looks drastically different than the vision and plan that was put in place. Unavoidable circumstances could have changed the outcome of the project. That certainly happens. It also could be a sneaky form of pride arising in your life. The leader had one vision, but yours seemed better so you delivered on your vision which was vastly superior. Cue frustration and feelings of being misunderstood. The leader is disappointed in the outcome. You are disappointed in the disappointment because you delivered an outcome. A better outcome in your humble opinion. It might not have been circumstances that changed the project, it could have been pride.
2. An inability to listen to and receive feedback
Here’s the scenario: You perform a task or fulfill a role and then are provided feedback on said performance. I’ve done this. You’ve most likely done this, because there is no way you are better than me. The feedback is given. We then so very delicately, artfully, and skillfully provide an explanation to them that they don’t understand various aspects of our performance or they wouldn’t be providing the feedback at all. Are there things that occur when performing a task or role that others outside of the role weren’t aware of? Yes, there was also a different perspective than yours and those are the people who observed from the outside. Their feedback is invaluable to improvement and moving forward with excellence. It’s hard to spot it in ourselves, but when we meet feedback with defensive explanations it could be a sign of something. I would like to humbly, whilst sitting on the colt of a donkey, offer to you the idea that it could be pride.
3. Making hard conversations hurt
Let’s face it. All of us need someone to have a hard or difficult conversation with us at some point. In my most humble and lowly opinion, a lack of these conversations is one of the main causes of stagnation in people’s lives. We get stuck in bad thinking, bad behavior, or bad attitudes and we need someone to show it to us. The problem is that its painful to hear. We all crave and need encouragement. However, sometimes we are doing a stupid thing and need someone to tell us, “hey, stop doing, saying, thinking that stupid thing.” Here’s where the ugly monster of pride begins to emerge from the swamp of the soul. It takes an ocean of humility to say thank you to the person that is hurting you, but trying to help you. The Bible says that no discipline is pleasant when the discipline is happening. It’s the fruit of discipline that is enjoyable. The monster of pride emerges when we make it painful for someone who is trying to help us. It’s hard to see that its pride. It feels like vindication because we, the victim, are defending ourselves against this horrible person who is saying that we have room for improvement in our lives. What kind of horrible, maniacle, psychopath would talk to us about areas of our lives that need to be improved? It’s probably someone who loves us enough to tell us the truth. When we play the victim and them the enemy it’s pride taking us lower. It’s humility that will lift you higher. Humilty makes it easy for people to have hard conversations with us.