I decided to write some more thoughts on virtues and stuff. Deep right?
This time I want to get a little more specific and talk about four main ideas: two virtues, Confidence and Humility, and their corresponding vices, Pride and Self-deprecation. First, let’s put together some definitions so we’re on the same page.
PRIDE: It’s not always a vice, but in this context, it is. We’re talking vanity, a big ego, self-idolatry, and “look at me, I’m super cool”.
HUMILITY: Commonly misunderstood, Humility is not weakness nor is it putting yourself down. It’s more about having an honest view of yourself and knowing your weaknesses and limitations.
CONFIDENCE: It’s the good version of Pride. It’s knowing and trusting your strengths and capabilities.
SELF-DEPRECATION: This is false Humility. It’s putting yourself down and thinking yourself to be less capable than you are.
As I thought more about them together, I realized there was a more intimate relationship between these abstracts. Confidence is the opposite of Pride, Pride the opposite of Humility, Humility the opposite of Self-Deprecation, and Self-deprecation the opposite of Confidence. And just like that we’re full circle…or square…or rhombus? (See diagram!)
I like to think about it like this: Pride and Self-deprecation are the extremes; they are a dishonest assessment of yourself, thinking yourself better or worse than you are. Humility and Confidence, however, create the boundaries of “THE ZONE” in which we should operate, as they conform to Truth. Confidence is knowing your abilities while Humility is knowing your limitations.
But what’s the big deal? Why should I operate in this zone? Who cares if you get a big head and ride around on your high horse soaking up accolades like a sponge? Well, YOU should.
Let’s take a second to talk about Ego. It goes hand in hand with Pride. When we bring Ego into a situation, it is always detrimental to the outcome. It can affect those around us, but it also directly affects the way we approach the problem and the way we look at the means and methods by which we solve the problem or move forward. Ego encourages us to act in a way that makes us look good or feel good about ourselves instead of acting in a way to achieve actual success.
Since lifting is such a great metaphor for life, let’s check out an example in action: Ego lifting. When you bring your Ego into the gym, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to train in a way that is not effective, but rather, you’ll train to feel good or make yourself look good. I’ve seen it many times before: someone squatting with an Ego, loading up the bar with more than they can handle, doing some quarter squats, throwing some more weight on the bar, nearly killing themselves, and feeling good that they repped some heavy weight. In an attempt to look and feel good, they compromise their well-being and end up training less efficiently by squatting with poor form and technique. While it might not look as cool, it would be far more safe and effective to drop the weight down, seek help, and practice full range of motion and proper form. These steps definitely take a certain level of Humility, but in the long run, that’s what will make you truly successful.
The opposite extreme, Self-deprecation, is also detrimental. With this mindset, a lifter is not confident in their ability. They may workout with weights that are too light to be really effective, or despair that they will never improve. Through Confidence and Humility, a lifter effectively works within his abilities to make progress.
This also relates back to my other article about how taking shortcuts often leads us away from true success; shortcuts can deprive us of the very experience that would allow us to be successful. In a similar way, Pride and Ego persuade us to chase what makes us look good in the short-term, but may end up wasting our time or even putting ourselves in a compromising position. Ironically, it seems that those who are motivated by Pride and Ego often end up looking the most foolish in the long run.
So let’s find that zone, and avoid the extremes. As always, balance and self-knowledge are key. Be confident in your abilities and use them to further progress towards your goals; be humble and know your limits so you don’t end compromising your well-being.