Why You Shouldn’t Take Pride in Your Work

don't take pride in your work

I’ve always maintained the idea that it’s best to not take pride in your work.

This is a quote I stated in a recent interview I completed for the Lift App Author Series. I want to outline the meaning of this quote and explain exactly why I think that the idea of taking pride in your work is so often over-embellished and troubling for those who need to simply sit back, relax and do the work, instead of getting cocky or worrying about something that you probably won’t care about at all in the future.

Why is taking pride in your work not the best of ideas?

You Won’t Get Anything Done

I’ve always maintained the idea that taking too much pride in your work leads to perfectionism and a mindset that everything must end up flawless. I haven’t experienced as much as others, but I’ve been through college, traveled to a few other continents and held maybe ten or fifteen jobs ever since I started my paper route back in grade school.

No one cares that you put in that extra 10 percent to add some details that only you notice. Even in school, if I stayed up an hour longer and crammed in a few more lines in my business law-book it wouldn’t change the result much on test day.

In my Lift interview I talk about a few of my idols, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park who produce each episode in six days. Think about that. A half an hour show usually takes a few months to create and they complete it in six days. It makes my laugh at my own work ethic, but they always say that they could certainly put in more time, but no one is going to notice the extra 15 percent.

You Stress Yourself Out

Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way.

Jason Fried – Rework

I’ve always laughed at those who stick around until 11pm, sitting at their office and trying to figure out the meaning to life. The answers certainly aren’t in a computer screen while everyone else is at home enjoying time with family and friends.

When you start to take too much pride in your work you forget about what matters most: People. Sure, I enjoy writing, and like to hammer out quite a few words everyday, but it’s not what I live for. It’s not what I would call fun at all times. Writing is work, and if I turned it into something more important than people, I would stress myself out and turn into someone I hate.

You Make Yourself Look Silly

At my old job there was a manager who would spend about two hours throughout the morning staring at her email and clacking away. It usually resulted in a novel sent to the entire company about something no really cared about — cleaning up our desks on the previous Friday or some crap like that. Everyone in the office took bets on the length of each morning email.

I’m not one to gang up on others, but people who work too hard are usually the ones that are working on the wrong things. Pride is different in everyone’s mind, but that’s why just skipping out on the pride is so important. If you just complete your job and think nothing of it, there is a mountain of respect waiting for you. Why? Because everyone works. You don’t deserve an extra pat on the back.

You End Up Taking Life Way Too Seriously

Life is supposed to feel fun, not tedious and superficial. A battle towards recognition and status can’t seriously quench any type of thirst you have. Punch the clock at a reasonable hour and laugh at your mistakes. Look back and enjoy the fact that you didn’t put in those extra hours, because you had a chance to use that time with people you enjoy.

Let me know in the comments section what you think about it when you take pride in your work. Is there a way to avoid these downfalls without having to sacrifice that “pride” we hold so dear with our work? Is pride really all that important? Isn’t it OK to just be satisfied with the work we do and move on?

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Photo Credit: jumpinjimmyjava from flickr

About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Shirley Ford says:

    An excellent article. To me, pride and ego go hand in hand. I get very embarrassed when someone says to me ‘you should be proud of yourself’ for writing a novel. No, I am not proud, I am just happy and pleased that I have written something.

    • Good point Shirley. I think being happy is a more reasonable result than pride, since it truly is an accomplishment, but there’s still so much more to do!

  2. Evelyne Holingue says:

    One of the first things I heard and surprised me when I arrived from France to the US was when people kept telling each other that they were so proud of them or that people should be so proud for doing something.
    Years later, I am proud of my kids for a special achievement but I don’t want to overdo the pride factor. As for me, like Shirley in the comment, I am pleased to see my manuscripts turning into books. I am excited to see the result of my work. But I don’t take myself so seriously as to say that I am proud. However, I think we should be respectul of our work. Good thoughts here, Joe.

    • It’s interesting to see varying views from people around the world. There’s certainly a little too much unwarranted pride in the states, and like you said, it’s wise to not overdo it with the pride. Thanks Evelyne!

  3. “I’m not one to gang up on others, but people who work too hard are usually the ones that are working on the wrong things.”
    When I read this line, a client instantly popped into mind. Holds a fairly high middle-management position and everyone comments on what long and hard hours he works. But every once in a while, I notice he pops up in strange places, such as responding to someone’s trifling email (which he shouldn’t have even read) with a pompous directive, copying many, to publicly assert his influence. Or personally posting items online that should have been delegated as the most routine, tedious clerical task to the lowest person in the pecking order.
    This person takes obvious pride in the corporate status he’s attained, yet reveals himself at every turn to be a micromanager wasting energy on the wrong priorities.

    • Thanks K. It seems there are always a few of these folks in every organization. I tend to think it’s a small percentage of people who are like this, but it’s certainly annoying. :)

  4. April Moore says:

    I think you need to define “pride” here. It sounds like you’re defining “pride” as being pompous, which I don’t believe is behind the expression, “taking pride in. . .” To me, taking pride in something (such as writing,) is about respecting the craft and yourself as a writer. Personally, I’d rather not churn out some dribble that I won’t like or care about later–what a waste of time! I’d rather spend that time churning out something that, yes, I’m proud of *GASP*! I get what you’re saying about people focusing on their work and not those around them–there are definitely those who do that and they do it for the accolades and kudos–there are people like that in every profession, but I don’t think it’s always a pride thing; sometimes they’re just a-holes. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where people stopped taking pride in their work, or in other words, stopped respecting what they do; there’s a fine line between being prideful and being pompous.

    • I was waiting for this comment April. :) I was going back and forth while writing this, because there truly is a fine line between being pompous and prideful. I agree that pride is all about respecting your craft and yourself as a writer, but I personally feel that this pride is more about happiness as opposed to the ole pat on the back. Churning out dribble is certainly a con of not taking any pride in your work, so I guess going too far either way is what we need to avoid. Once taking pride becomes habitual it seems that folks are more prone to take pride more frequently, even when not warranted. The same goes for just pumping out crap and forgetting that a craft is somewhat like a religious experience that must be treated with respect.

      Personally I feel more comfortable with straying away from the pompous extreme and hoping that I don’t lean too far the other way, but I’m sure this has to do with my own personality, since I can’t see myself not respecting my writing to the point where it just adds noise to the internet and everywhere else. Just my two cents. Thanks for the thoughts April!

      • April Moore says:

        Thanks, Joe. I definitely get your point! Your blog post title just threw me; it seems definite to me instead of (what I might venture to guess you aim more toward) is “Why You Shouldn’t Take (too much) Pride in Your Work. And curious, what do you mean about pride being all about happiness? Thought-provoking article :-)

  5. There’s a difference between being satisfied you have done the best job you can within the constraints surrounding you (pride) and hubris.

  6. Recoveryofthemind says:

    Joe, I like what you stand for! I intend to start following your work more closely. Seems to me that you are living my dream, I’m inspired.