Pride isn't the worst thing

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 19, 2023, 11:47 PM | comments: 0

I can't say that I've spent a lot of time in my life feeling proud. In the general sense, pride is not an attribute that is always looked upon as "good." It's vaguely associated with narcissism and ego, which are not things that you really want to be linked to. But I'm rethinking that a little bit. My business hero and quasi mentor, Matt Ouimet, the former CEO of Cedar Fair, once told me that he felt proud when he was walking around amongst the attractions that were under his charge.

Part of this comes in part because of my recent visit with my friend Mike from back in the Penton Media days. very early in my career. He's the kind of friend that you have to admire... veteran, professional, really good at what he does, parent of a kid with special needs, seen his share of shit... and also thinks highly of things that you've done. That last part admittedly makes me a little uncomfortable. He was there when I started CoasterBuzz and built it into something that could pay my mortgage, and he seemed to admire that. But like your good friends generally should, he thought highly of even my most modest accomplishments, and that's a thing that I don't get from very many people. Mind you, Mike is one of the kindest people I know, so I imagine that it's pretty typical for most people to feel good around him.

But I also think that maybe he's not ridiculous. I tend to take stock in what I've accomplished when I talk to him, if only because we met about 24 years ago. That's a lot of time to know anyone, and the list of people that I still actively talk to since then is pretty short. It lends some credence to his opinion about me. Couple this with the usual midlife introspection and existential examination of one's self, and maybe, just maybe, it's time to give myself a little credit.

This is a somewhat odd concept to me, in part because my journey as a parent had a late start. But I'm not all that far from retirement either, so few things about the "typical" milestones make sense to me. I feel like I'm still not that far from the failure of my first marriage, my career change, my middling indifference toward my career, or the start of parenthood. I don't feel like I have "finished" things that would qualify me for any kind of pride.

Mike isn't wrong though. That I'm still maintaining something that I started more than 24 years ago, with all of the changes in our culture and the Internet, is worth acknowledging. I wrote a book that was published. I've been maintaining an open source project for two decades. I did a radio show for awhile in the pandemic. I built a personal music cloud player when the commercial options disappeared. I turned around my own financial situation. I've transformed a number of software engineering organizations, even if those organizations failed to reward or recognize me. I've given significant amounts of my time and money to worthy causes. I've recognized and overcome depression. I've moved a bunch of times looking for the right situation, and finally found it in Central Florida. I've managed to keep another human alive into teen years despite some challenges. I go to Walt Disney World for lunch. Oh, and now I'm making a movie.

I think I've earned a little pride.

The problem is that pride is ugly if it is not accompanied by humility. So while I list my achievements above, it's more for my own personal inventory than anything else. I'm not interested in bragging (as I've said before, self-marketing is exhausting). It just helps sometimes for someone to acknowledge.

So take your own inventory. A little external validation isn't terrible either. Regardless of the scope of what you've achieved or contributed to the world, there's nothing wrong with feeling a little pride about it.


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