Needless to say, it’s important to feel pride in your work. But pride is also one of the seven deadly sins for a reason.
Pride can often blind you. That's why pride is bad sometimes: Too much of it can prevent you from dealing with obstacles that might trip you up. (As they also say: “Pride goeth before a fall.”) And when you are vulnerable to obstacles like that, you can't possibly do your best work, or be your best self.
In my experience, pride prevents employees – and people in general – from making three key admissions. And when they don't make these admissions, they don't solve the problems (obstacles) behind them. If you can say these three statements when you need to, you’re not letting pride get in the way of you being your best self:
"I made a mistake."
Fittingly, it’s a huge mistake not to be able to admit when you’ve made a mistake.
As my friend Charlie Weisman says: “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
I don’t need to explain the benefits of this approach. I could just say a few names. Richard Nixon. Lance Armstrong. Roger Clemens. Think about how much better off they would have been if they had just "fessed up" in the beginning.
Alternatively, see my story about what happened when I bounced a check to Phil Rizzuto. That's an example of the benefit of not only admitting a mistake - but running to it!
"I need help."
Too many people think admitting you need help is equivalent to exposing a weakness and showing you're not good at what you’re doing. I think it’s the opposite. I think it shows that you’re smart and strong. I think it shows that you’re secure enough with yourself to not have to appear perfect. Which no one is!
The funny thing is, the people who know us well always know when we need help, anyway. So when we don’t ask for help, we’re still suffering the same supposed “embarrassment” – without getting any of the reward!
Ask for the help you need, get it, and move on!
"I don’t know."
“I don’t know” might be my "favorite" statement of the three. A lot of people can admit to a mistake, or that they need help, but almost everyone likes to feel like they know everything. So this one is very tough for them!
But again, this is not a sign of weakness. Because NO ONE expects you to know everything!
IN FACT, I think saying “I don’t know” is a great opportunity to really prove your mettle.
See, I love it when someone tells me: “I don’t know. But I’ll find out.”
Because then I can get one of my favorite emails. One that begins: “As promised….” (As in “As promised, here is that info. you needed….")
Not only does this show that you're not prideful, but it shows you're good at following up. That you're proactive.
That’s the type of person I want working for me.
When you can admit you made a mistake, or you need help, or you don’t know something, it gives you credibility for when you are certain of things. Because admitting these statements shows you’re not a BS-er.
(When you say “I don’t know much about that, I’m not the right guy,” it makes it that much stronger when you say “I do know about that.”)
So what about you? Do you have trouble with these three statements? If so, pride might be blocking you from fulfilling your potential.
Get over it!