Pride : a key ingredient for growth

“ Give me an example of something that made you feel proud. “ It’s one of those classic recruitment question you’d better prepare for prior to the interview.  After all, you don’t want to seem arrogant but you don’t want to be too modest either.  That delicate balance makes it rather hard to come up with the perfect answer on the spot.

Why ? It seems that the feeling of genuine pride is hard to acknowledge. And for Belgians it often proves to be an extra challenge. This is  simply in our genes. Have you noticed how, when foreigners claim that  Belgium is a failed state, many of us don’t only confirm the statement … no, we’ll add a few extra arguments to prove the point ?
However when we receive positive feedback, we shrug our shoulders,  diminishing what has been said. Typical Belgian replies are : ’it’s not that special, really’ or ‘anyone would have done exactly the same’.

Yet, it’s wonderful to have a feeling of pride.  Not only can we be proud about our own accomplishments but we can make the feeling our own even when we are thinking about someone else’s success.  The best examples are perhaps parents who are proud about their children.  At a larger scale, sports produces a similar effect. Should our national team win the European Soccer Championship, we will all feel a certain amount of pride, even though we haven’t actively contributed a thing to that victory.

What these examples have in common is ‘ a connection’.  We feel connected to a winning soccer team, with family members and with what we have personally accomplished.

At work it’s exactly the same. We can feel proud about the organisation that we work for, the team we are part of and the success we have personally achieved.

Throughout the years, I have accompanied projects including researchers, administrative employees, executives and railway workmen/women. What this diverse group of people had in common was ‘pride in the job’ . Don’t we all wish to be proud about the work that we do ?  That is why we all long for the right environment, the right material and enough time to do things right when we look for a job.

There are a number of elements that can contribute to pride at work  and some of the most important ones are these:  knowing how we contribute personally, being part of a team that sets high standards, getting positive feedback from a manager and being convinced of the positive role our organisation plays in society at large.

Pride is a feeling that is at its best when shared with others.  Sharing an accomplishment with others and getting a positive response is an act that boosts self confidence and your eagerness to take on new challenges.

Proud employees are naturally engaged. They do a better job.  As they like to talk about the joy and satisfaction they experience at work, they are the best ambassadors for any organisation.

Reasons enough to stimulate ‘pride’ in our organisations.  Not just at the top, but at each level of the company. When president Kennedy visited the Nasa and asked a cleaning lady : ‘What’s your job, madam?”, she answered : “I am helping you to get a man on the moon”.  And this made her rightfully proud.

So don’t you agree that it is high time that we throw those prejudices against ‘pride’ out of the window ?


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