Tag Archive for: pride

Confronting ourselves with ourselves

How often are you confrontational with yourself?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked some confrontational questions on the subject of pride and humility in our missionary zone conferences.
It is my experience that it’s human nature to see faults in others, and yet much more difficult to see faults in 𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒔.
Most people run away from confronting themselves because it can hurt.

Call your Mum!

A good place to start, is by calling your mom (mum!) – she loves you and knows you well enough to really help!
We need to find enough humility to be willing to confront ourselves.
It is extremely important to be willing to admit and confess your sin, weakness, and failure.
I am a witness to the fact that there comes a time in life when confronting ourselves with ourselves is obligatory – a time when one must concede or confess the error of one’s way.


Ultimately, it starts to occur, when a prideful heart, yields to humility and meekness, and is “willing to submit to all things” – see Mosiah 3:19.
Departing from former ways, one begins to understand Psalms 51:10 which reads; “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
It is always the penitent, who know the seriousness of their sin, who approach God humbly and say, “I have nothing to offer but a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalm 51:17)
It is then and only then, that the battle with ourselves is on its way to being won.
Henry B. Eyring said; “Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power.”
Self-confrontation allows us to see ourselves as we really are, rather than what we want to see.
Even though it can be agonising, it allows us to grow and expand into a fuller, more settled version of ourselves.
Confronting ourselves is not about berating or criticising ourselves.

Asking Questions

It’s about asking difficult questions and committing to the process of self-reflection and self-inquiry.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” – August Wilson.
It’s about holding yourself accountable.
Am I becoming the person I want to be?
Am I doing what I said I would do?
If you’re seeking to make progress in your life, learn to confront yourself.
What do I need to confront myself with today?

Forgotten Wedges

I want to share part of a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball in April 1966.
“There came to my mind an article by Samuel T. Whitman entitled “Forgotten Wedges.”
I had learned to use wedges when I was a lad in Arizona, it being my duty to supply wood for many fires in the big house. May I quote Whitman:

The Iron Wedge

“The ice storm wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. Walking out of doors became unpleasant and difficult. It was disagreeable weather, but it was not serious. Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.
“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer was a lad on his father’s home- stead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. . . .
“On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge; — wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. The path from the south pasture did not pass the wood- shed; and, because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge . . . between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.
“He truly meant to, but he never did. It was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. . . . Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.
“In the chill silence of that wintry night, with the mist like rain sifting down and freezing where it fell, one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once proud tree remained.
“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss.
‘Wouldn’t have had that happen for a thousand dollars,’ he said.
‘Prettiest tree in the valley, that was.’
“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully.
‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”
𝑭𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒐𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒏 𝒘𝒆𝒅𝒈𝒆𝒔!
Hidden weaknesses grown over and invisible, waiting until some winter night to work their ruin.
What better symbolizes the presence and the effect of sin in our lives?
This brings to my memory some verses I heard long years ago entitled:
𝐉𝐢𝐦 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲
Around the corner I have a friend, In this great city which has no end;
Yet, days go by and weeks rush on, And before I know it a year has gone.
And I never see my old friend’s face; For life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine.
We were younger then
And now we are busy tired men —
Tired with playing the foolish game; Tired with trying to make a name;
Tomorrow, I say, I will call on Jim, Just to show I’m thinking of him.
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes;
And the distance between us grows and grows
Around the corner! Yet miles away — Here’s a telegram, sir — “Jim died today!”
And that’s what we get — and deserve
in the end — Around the corner, a vanished friend.
Finally, I’d like to quote more lines from Whitman:
“Pride, envy, selfishness, dishonesty, intemperance, doubt, secret passions — almost numberless in variety and degree are the wedges of sin. And alas! almost numberless are the men and women who today are allowing sin to grow in the heart wood of their lives.
“The wedge is there. We know it is there. We put it there ourselves one day, when we were hurried and thoughtless. It shouldn’t be there, of course. It is harming the tree. But we are busy so we leave it there; and in time, it grows over and we forget. The years slip swiftly by. Wintertime comes with its storms and ice. The life we prized so much goes down in the unspeakable loss of spiritual disaster. For years after the wedge had grown over, the tree flourished and gave no sign of its inner weakness. Thus it is with sin.”
I commend the Spencer W. Kimball talk to you. Why not look it up?
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞𝐝𝐠𝐞(𝐬) 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞?


What frustrates you?

Frustration: “…the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.”

I know that an upside of frustration is that it tells you that you still have some important lessons to learn in a specific area.

Are you like me? Gripping a few prickly problem perhaps? You try extremely hard to resolve the issue yourself. Then anxiety and stress start to build. We become our own worst enemy, when infuriatingly despite our best efforts, we can’t resolve the matter. Grrrr!

I was like that for a little while on Saturday morning. What was this huge grizzly challenge? Of all things – a wooden gate! My woodworking skills aren’t amongst my top abilities and my stubbornness meant I wasn’t for listening to any suggestions either.

Yet, sometimes a rescuer comes along and helps. With patience, kindness and tender words, they help you to see things differently, offering alternative solutions to the issue at hand. The answer can only be received if you humble yourself, set aside your pride and listen!

As the tension subsided, working together we resolved the matter. Gate fixed! Thank you to my darling wife, for her forbearance, restraint and composure to deal with grumpy old me. Lesson learned, again!

Leadership Essentials – Humility vs Pride

“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” said the late John R.W. Stott.

In many of my coaching conversations these last few weeks I have become increasingly aware of the dangers of pride. In turn, I have spent some time reflecting on my own situation and simply invite you to do likewise.

Today, I want to sound a warning voice. Simply stated……..beware of pridewe must be alert and we must be on guard against the perils of pride. I’m not talking about the glow of pride you feel as your daughter receives an award, or upon graduating from University. Rather, this form of pride is much more insidious, crafty, cunning and sneaks up on you, creating a lofty and arrogant assumption that you are somehow superior in some or indeed many respects, before you realise it is even happening.

“There is one vice of which no man in the world is free,” C.S Lewis remarked, “which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people….ever imagine that they are guilty of themselves…”

Try this little self test.

  • Are you critical of others?
  • Do you look down on others? Do you scorn or ridicule them?
  • Do you find yourself critiquing many things your boss or colleagues share, thinking you can do much better?
  • When you do something good, do you hear a little a voice inside congratulating yourself?
  • If someone corrects a mistake you made, do you feel defensive and resentful?
  • Do you find ways to let others know of your success without appearing to boast?
  • If someone you know receives something good, do you hear a voice inside saying, “What about me?”
  • When someone does something that creates inconvenience for you, do you feel annoyed.

These points were all adapted from an article by Kim B. Clark, but I’d like to echo his sentiments and sadly confess that I have first-hand experience of the questions asked and could go on. A heartfelt sincere asking yourself these questions, is like peeling back the layers of an onion, there just seems to be more and more.

Lifetime observations help me to conclude that positions of authority, leadership and power can lead to pride and unrighteous dominion. Economic prosperity can somehow and oftentimes does lead to pride. Pride is all about selfishness, looking inwards and thinking – its all about me. Somehow, it is much easier to see pride in others, than it is to see it in yourself. Proud people are pretty resistant and everyone else is the problem. Looking at the news from around the world these last few years it is brutally evident to see examples of the dangers of pride in some of the political and business leaders on the world stage. In addition, pride and arrogance are obvious in many of todays political leaders, whether liberal or conservative, making matters much worse than they need to be. In my opinion, pride is very, very dangerous and can produce widespread suffering in society when people in leadership and power are corrupted by it.  Further, there is an overarching culture in society today that simply states…. “its all about me”. Sadly, I’m sure many will recognise that malaise. Pride’s family of behaviours includes conceit, self-righteousness, boasting, selfish ambition, showing off, vanity, and impatience.   Thankfully however there is a powerful antidote…..All of these can be replaced by cultivating humility.

Humility. These day I guess it’s an unfashionable word. The dictionary defines humility as “modesty” and “lacking in pretense”, but that doesn’t mean humble leaders are meek or timid.

Ezra Taft Benson shared “Humility does not mean weakness. It does not mean timidity. It does not mean fear. A man can be humble and fearless. A man can be humble and courageous.” I also love this anonymous quote that states: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less”. Humility is selfless not selfish. In fact I believe that humility is being authentic without any pretence or arrogance. It is really about being true to yourself and knowing your limitations, from the inside out.

In Harry M. Jansen Kraemar’s book “From Values to Action” he dedicates a whole chapter (4) to genuine humility as one of the principles for values based leaders. He states “you recognise the value in everyone; you know you are no better than anyone else; and the higher you move up the organisation, the more you stay grounded.”

In a Harvard Business Review article from a few year ago, it states that “The Best Leaders are Humble Leaders” https://hbr.org/2014/05/the-best-leaders-are-humble-leaders

In addition to the four suggestions made in the HBR articles I’d like to ask further – how do we cultivate humility?  In our own consultancy, the first of our strapline words is Reflect. As I have written about previously, I am an avid journal writer. By chronicling in my journals what goes well and what could have gone better enables me to learn from my actions. Over many years of doing this I’ve discovered that there is always room for improvement.

I have been fortunate to work with many humble leaders over many years. It has been my experience that humility inspires loyalty, it also helps to build and sustain cohesive, productive teamwork. Jim Collins was a fan of CEOs he saw demonstrating modesty and leading quietly, not charismatically, in his bestseller Good to Great. He called these CEOs Level 5 executives.

Collins found Level 5 executives built enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They channelled their egos away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. At a deeper level, he found that for leaders to make something great, their ambition had to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.

Humility, like other virtues, can be developed. We can actually become more humble if we focus on appreciating the strengths of others and serving them, on being teachable and admitting our mistakes. We need…… no, we must continue to share this message in our homes, communities and business organisations to better prepare those who lead now and in the future.

Final Points to Ponder….

  1. What are some ways I could recognise pride in my speech, my attitudes and my actions?
  2. As outlined, humility is the antidote of pride. How can I develop humility?