I wonder what the most common phrase is that people utter right before they do something they’ll regret. I’ll bet it’s one of these:
“Come on, it’s easy!”
“I know how this works.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“It can’t be that hard!”
“Don’t help me, I can do it myself.”
I especially like the last one – it paints a mental picture of a YouTube video montage of extreme sports accidents, complete with bone-crunching sound effects and hysterical laughter in the background. It almost never fails – when people use one of the above phrases, watch out; something unpleasant or painful is about to happen.
Why is that the case?
I think it has to do with under- and over-estimation. People underestimate what they’re attempting, and they overestimate their own ability. In other words, pride goes before the fall.
People who talk a lot of trash are often full of pride, and they’re usually compensating for something. They’re not only trying to convince others that they’re the best at something, they’re trying to reassure themselves as well. They substitute bravado for brilliance; bluster for skill.
They’re putting on an act.
Compare this to true confidence. True confidence accepts the possibility of failure, and presses forward in spite of it. Pride cannot accept failure, because it carries with it shame or embarrassment.
Confidence laughs at its own mistakes. Pride laughs at the mistakes of others.
Confidence is eager to learn. Pride knows it all.
Confidence is willing to help others succeed. Pride wants others to fail.
Confidence is generous. Pride is jealous.
Confidence is strong. Pride is weak.
Confidence is an asset. Pride is a liability.
Confidence is contagious, but pride is a disease.
In writing, it’s important to be confident – not proud. Writers need to be willing to fail and unwilling to quit. They need to be open to learning new things, and willing to help others learn whenever possible. They need to be willing to work, and not expect everything to be a success.
For a long time, I allowed pride to keep me from writing. I was unwilling to risk failure, because I wrongly thought failure was a poor reflection on my personal value. It’s not.
Failure is just proof that you tried. The poor reflection on me was the fact that for so long, I refused to even try.
That ended with the beginning of the Write Every Day challenge. If I write something today that’s not quite as good as yesterday, it doesn’t matter – because it’s better than writing nothing at all. It’s better than proudly claiming to be a writer, but never writing anything.
If you’re a writer, don’t give in to pride.
Don’t keep shouting at others, “Watch this!”
Instead, keep asking yourself: