Is Pride a Problem?

Pride is a funny subject. I hold it up as an excellent goal and guide for our choices. A lot of people see it as something to avoid. 

I heard a fascinating interview recently that reminded that both are true. And that it’s important to be clear on its destructive potential. 

So that’s what I get into in this week’s post. 

A word of warning: The discussion touches on a topic that can sound like it’s part of the current political noise, but it’s really not. Trust me, there’s no way I want to get into that. :-) 

But it is super relevant to current events, so I hope you enjoy the post. 

Let me know your thoughts on this, too. It’s an interesting topic for discussion.



  • The difference between “good” and “bad” pride.
  • The powerful effects of both kinds. 
  • The fascinating way pride is being used as a weapon.
  • Listen/read to get the full message.



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FINISHED: The Murderbot Diaries. Martha Wells. 4 books in the series. Loved these SO much. Read all four in maybe 10 days. Super fun, too, because I thought maybe our 13-yr old boy would like them, too, and he is instantly hooked. His first sci-fi, and the first books we’ve enjoyed at the same time. Super fun. 

FINISHED: This is shocking, but I actually watched a TV series. Jack Ryan. Amazon Prime original. I NEVER do that. Somehow got started and just blasted through season 1. Just like it was a big novel. Very well done. Looking forward to Season 2. But weird to be watching instead of reading. Didn’t like that part of it. Even more detached from people. 

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[ transcript ]

Hey, it’s David Levin. Author of Raise Your Inner Game, co-author QBQ, the Question Behind the Question, Founder of Raise Your Inner Game Academy.

We’ll start with a little housekeeping. 

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And of course, pick up your copy of Raise Your Inner Game. Get the hardcover for free plus a free video training. Just pay $7 shipping and handling. raise your inner to order. It’s the quickest, easiest way to lower your stress, work at a higher level, and as the subtitle says, “Live a life you’re proud of every day.” 

And that leads to the subject of this week’s post. Pride. Is pride a problem? 

You know, it’s a funny thing. Our culture has some strong impulses that say yes, pride is a problem.

Don’t be too proud. 

Pride goeth before a fall. Not every day you get to say Goeth. 

He’s too big for his britches. 

There are a ton of cautions in our cultural around pride. 

At the same time, in my experience, pride is the most important measure of our success. It’s the guide I suggest people use in making decisions — I have these two options. Which one would make me more proud? That’s the one to do. 

If I truly feel proud of myself, of the person I’ve been, there’s a deep peace and satisfaction that comes from that that you can’t get anywhere else. And if I’m not proud of myself, if I feel I’m being weak, fearful, petty, if I feel like a failure or a fraud, no amount of ex ternal success is going to bring me any real peace and satisfaction. And you hear examples of that all the time from famous, successful people. 

The subject of pride came up for me again recently because of a fascinating interview I heard on the details, and I want to say ahead of time, this is not at all about politics, I promise, nothing to do with the election, started way before that, but the piece was about the details of the Russian campaign against us. It turns out, the Russians, for years have been working to intentionally cause strife and conflict in our society, just to weaken us as an adversary. It’s weird to think about that, because it seems so outrageous, but it’s well documented. There’s really no question about it. 

But the fascinating part in this interview was how they did it. They started with pride. With actively working to boost people’s pride. 

They identified a ton of different groups of all kinds, left, right, middle, not political at all. Just basically interest groups on Facebook and other platforms. And they went in and at first, just posted messages encouraging people to take pride in the group, in their identity. Let’s be proud of ourselves, what we’ve done, what we stand for. 

And on its face, that’s great, right? I mean, we do make a difference. We are good people. We should feel good about ourselves. 

But here’s the thing. And this gets to I think a good definition of good pride versus bad pride. 

Good pride, and this is the kind I talk about in the book and the Academy, is when you feel proud because of a choice you’ve made, personally, internally. You had options. One was harder than the other. You took the harder one. You feel good about it. Man, I really wanted that Coke Zero today. Felt like I really needed it. And it was right there in the fridge. The pull was so hard. But I resisted. And I feel good about that. 

That’s good pride. That is the pride you should try to create as often as possible. That is the feeling that will change your life like nothing else.

Think about this. Project yourself out to the end of your life, whether it’s when you’re 90 years old, or it’s tomorrow because something’s happened and you’re in the hospital, and it’s your last day. The only thing that will matter in that moment is am I proud of the person I’ve been, of the choices I made, of the love and support and example I’ve provided to the people in my life. That is it. It’s all about this kind of pride. Good pride. 

The bad kind of pride is the kind that makes me think I’m better than other people. 

When you look closely at the common “watch out for pride” messages in our culture, this is the kind they’re talking about. Arrogant. Entitled. Dismissive. You think you’re better than others. More worthy. More important. More moral. That’s the pride that creates problems, and that is what the Russian campaign was about. 

First, the messages were, again, just about pride. Be proud. We’re great. All good. But after a while they would start to sneak in little messages about us versus them. We’re great. They’re less great. And then it would ratchet up from there. 

So the real goal of their strategy wasn’t pride, pride was just the entry point. The real goal was to boost group identity and to create in-group versus out-group tension.

And, I’m not a social scientist, but I think you’d have to say that it’s working. I mean, there is so much group identity and tension in our country lately, for really, very little reason, when you step back and take a look. And to a great extent, it is the direct result of an intentional campaign to make it happen. 

It’s crazy. And fascinating. And I hope we can figure out how to not be so vulnerable to this kind of manipulation. 

But bringing it back to the pride question, is pride a problem? The answer is, it depends on which kind of pride you mean. If it’s group identity pride that makes us feel separate from and superior to others, yes, it’s a huge problem. One that we need to be aware of and work to resist. And the self-awareness and self-regulation skills from Raise Your Inner Game can be a real help with that. 

If it’s a personal, inner pride that helps us be a better person, it’s the opposite of a problem. It’s a standard that can help us all make our lives better, and amke the world a better place. 

So that is what was on my mind on the subject of pride. Pride is a great guide and goal for us. As long as we keep it focused on ourselves and our own inner choices rather than how we are different and supposedly better than someone else. 

Let me know what you think about this. I imagine there are different opinions on this out there. In the comments, let me know how this strikes you. And again, no politics here. Not interested in debating any of that. Just this idea of the problems and the promise of pride. Okay? Would love to hear your thoughts. 

All right. That’s it. Thank you. I’ll see you next time.