Guys: Be Proud of Yourself

Have you ever done anything that has made you proud? Not just proud of the outcome, but proud of yourself for doing it? Can you admit this pride to yourself? And here’s the scary part: can you tell someone else how proud of yourself you are? An intimate friend or spouse? An acquaintance?

As a youngster growing up, I learned that that it was OK to point to an external result with modest, understated pride. Hit a home run. Score an 800 on the college boards. Get a great job. Write a widely read article. Achieve a financial result. All external results. All OK to acknowledge without being pompous, without bragging.

A tip of the hat while rounding the bases was an acceptable self-acknowledgement of the home run, expressing any pride was not. External results could be acknowledged with modesty, but humility was critical. Anything else would be self-aggrandizing, self-promotional, egotistical, not acceptable behavior. Bragging was bad, and showing pride was the same as bragging. Wrong.

Over the years, I’ve conducted my own unscientific survey. Every male with whom I’ve spoken about this feel the same way. White House officials. Government and corporate leaders. Friends and colleagues. And, all admit a sense of unfulfillment, of restraint. But worse, all feel a need to keep striving that comes from not being able to admit to oneself that you’ve done it, that you’ve made it, that you’ve achieved it. All feel a need to say to someone else, and to themselves, “Hey, look at my doing, not just at the outcome of what I’ve done. I did it, and I’m proud!” All want permission to say it softly, to say it gently, to say it quietly, but to say it, nonetheless.

How do women feel about this, I’ve been asked. Well, I’m not sure. In my conversations, the women seem much more focused on contentment and fulfillment. The men are inherently scorekeepers, and yet they’re not letting themselves acknowledge a personal victory, a personal score, a personal win. Surely, generalizations are imprecise, but so is the unscientific survey that I’ve conducted on this subject for decades. My conclusion: it’s a guy problem.

So, how do you be appropriately proud, without bragging, without going over the top? That’s easy. Trust your judgment. You didn’t get to where you are in life without knowing how to achieve balance, without knowing how to be appropriate. You’ll do fine. Just do it.

So, guys, what are you proud of yourself for doing lately? I’m proud of myself for finally writing this.