This an image of a person stood in the word Potential. The person is spelling the I in potential. The sun is behind them so they are silhouetted against the setting sun. The person has their arms raised up in triumph.

If everything you were doing right now paused; your career or role, your home or relationship, your health and fitness and, most profoundly, your life, would you feel you’d reached your potential? Would you be proud?

I was asked that or a similar question recently and it made me think. 

What is pride and how does it help us fulfill our potential? Is pride a good thing and if so, how can it be best experienced? How do we navigate life so to reach our potential? Is there an end point to personal potential and fulfillment?

My first instinct was to say “No”.  I know I can and want to achieve more, however on reflection I now want to say “Yes”.

Or rather, “Yes, I am OK with where I am right now”. The fact that I know I have done all I could do, with what life has thrown at me, with the tools I have learnt, and the awareness I have. I have become the person who I presently am. I have done the best I could do. We all do all the time. We are all doing the best we can with the capability, tools, and self-awareness we have. It may not be the best and it may even not be that good, it is simply where we are. And I am proud too that this step of my potential is reached, and that what got me here, will get me there!

That does not mean I am where I wish and aspire to be. No.
I have not achieved all I believe I am capable of.
I have not done some of the things that at the start of this year I planned to have done by now.
I have done some and then, as life does, other things (some good some not so good) have come along to impact the progression and course of these things and where they all fit now has moved on. New potential.

Potential I see as a constantly moving field of opportunity.

Defined as “having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future” potential is very much about capacity, the ability to grow, and not an end point.
Because, we as humans are constantly changing and learning, how can it be anything but a constantly changing experience?

As a result, we can’t ever “reach” a potential fully but instead it’s a consistent “reaching for” that “best version of me” or “my optimum right now” that this thing called potential is all about.
In this way, we can then reach a potential milestone of one, that moves on, one step at a time, to another, and another and so on. It is what humans have a huge capacity for. Growth.
And that’s where I believe pride can come in, for building and supporting self-esteem, motivation, and self-validation.

“I believe we are here to learn and grow, and to become so abundant in belief in ourselves that we finally tap into the full potential of the greatness that is within us and share that greatness with the world.”
 – Jeff Olson The Slight Edge

What does having pride mean?

To have pride in something can feel alien especially when our upbringing shared mainly the negative aspects of pride, so that when we dared show it, we were brought back down to earth. And yes, in one respect pride is one of the seven deadly sins and can be often framed up more as conceit, arrogance or vanity as a negative quality.

However, when we take a better look at the research done on pride it runs deeper than that.
I was brought up in the 60s and 70s at school where pride in ourselves’ was not seen as something to have all that often. Someone else to be proud in us maybe, but not for us to display. The well-known phrases like “pride come before a fall” or “don’t let your head grow too much” were common phrases.
In her book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson describes pride as one of the positive emotions and in fact one of her essential top ten. So, when I read this a few years ago, it changed my whole opinion of pride to a positive one and how important it is in my own and my clients overall wellbeing and in human potential.
This is what she begins with when describing this positive emotion.

Along with your pride you must develop your sense of intuition, find out how here:

When you hear the word INTUITION, what does that mean to you?

“I believe we are here to learn and grow, and to become so abundant in belief in ourselves that we finally tap into the full potential of the greatness that is within us and share that greatness with the world.”
Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge

And as John C Maxwell puts so well

“I believe we are here to learn and grow, and to become so abundant in belief in ourselves that we finally tap into the full potential of the greatness that is within us and share that greatness with the world.”
John C Maxwell

How can we understand our Pride and come to terms with it?

Understanding the emotion of good positive pride and the potentially negative impact of bad pride centred behaviour and language, we can in fact become far more self-aware and also fuel ourselves with a positive version of pride.

Pride can motivate and compel action.

It can get us taking more action and can help us as a result perform well and aim to do our best all the time.

It can help us reach those next steps in reaching our potential.

As implied in the references as with all of life, balance is crucial.

This is an image of a girls in a yoga pose on the beach. She is bent forward with her hands stretched in front of her. She is wearing a white top. She has bracelets on that are made of wood.

Humility and pride I would say is the key balance. To stay humble yet have pride in ourselves and our work to keep grounded yet reaching for the stars!

To achieve and reach potential.  Some positive connections with pride that could help would be, self-acknowledgement and pride, self-recognition and pride, self-celebration and pride, self-esteem and pride, self-Confidence and pride and self-compassion and pride. Maybe you can add more of your own!

Let’s become aware when pride becomes ‘bad’ yet allow ourselves the positive emotion of ‘good’ pride and all that it can bring. Let it kindle our dreams!

Now to end on a few of my suggestions to get the positive good pride building in your own life of potential;
1-     Every day – starting on a Monday, write down something you are proud of having done, felt, said or represented. This can be on your phone, on a post-it note, something pinned to the fridge. You don’t need to tell anyone. The important thing is you recognise it for yourself.
2-     Do something NEW that you’ve been fearful of and celebrate it. You DID it! Maybe offer to do some training at work or you could do some cold-water swimming [just make sure you do it safely], this really got me going as I needed to overcome a few fears, and pride was one emotion I felt!
3-     Build potential in 7 ways
a.      Set achievable goals, act on them, and then grow them larger one step at a time
b.     Surround yourself with positive people that life you up
c.      Acknowledge your accomplishments
d.     Share your skills and all you have to offer with others – you are a gift in some way to others and by leaning into this you can find your potential grows
e.     Reach for the stars!
f.      Speak up and get recognised – overcome that fear and see how proud that makes you
g.      Offer yourself care and compassion – you’re important
4-     Work on HABITS – these are the steps and the key ingredients to getting anything done over time

Reaching potential is done by taking these small and incremental steps, consistently taken over time, easy to do and easy not to do. Choose the Easy to DO option – always!

5-     Be grateful for the lessons and the learnings as well as all the good stuff. An attitude of gratitude has been shown to set the mind to see opportunity and to approach life with grace and contentment for what is.
6-     Let go of old hurt and bitterness. Do the work or find someone to help you. Find peace. Let yourself free to grow.
7-     Lead with LOVE, for yourself as well as for others. Compassion is a powerful ingredient in selfcare and compassion as we lean into our potential.
8-     Cultivate a growth mindset. Be willing to give it a go, at least once! Use the phrase “not yet” when trying something new. For example, “I am working on my ability to speak Spanish and I’m not quite there with it, yet”. After a setback say, “Doing this was tricky, I am not able to do it, not yet…” “Difficulty just means not yet”.
9-     Become AWARE of pride both good and bad – know when you are proud and stand back form this. Stay humble and be willing to have a servant heart.
10-   Stand tall, shoulders back, smile and be proud of all you do, you are amazing.

References and inspiration

Positivity Barbara Fredrickson

The Slight Edge Jeff Olson 

The power of ‘Not Yet’. Dweck

Bye for Now

Sue x

Book a FREE Curiosity call today

If you’d like to discuss this or any other topic I’d like to offer you a FREE session.

We can cover anything you would like to talk about and explore anything that is worrying you.

Book your place today and we can start your journey to a better future.

Make sure you are following me for all updates,
don’t forget to say hi!