What To Be Proud Of?

(This is part of an ongoing series of highlights from past Listen to Life newsletters.  Many readers and subscribers were not following when this came out.  Enjoy.)


“Never mind, that’s nothing for a parent to be proud of for his kid,” my son said while wiping some blood spatters off the bottom of his skateboard.  He had just finished telling me a longer version of the tale of his ‘board ride down a difficult hill that ended with a fall that caused enough bumps, bruises, cuts and abrasions to have him visit the emergency room for five hours to get 17 stitches in his chin, a CT scan and more.  The ride on his board wasn’t the only wild one.  He was quite proud to have even tried the particular hill, and the blood served as his own “red badge of courage.”

I was a bit surprised by his comment but saw a moment to help clarify what parents can be proud of in their kids.  And it isn’t only the behaviors that mimic the parent’s.  The same lesson applies to managers and their employees, leaders and volunteers, teachers and students.  Pride is not, and should not, only be borne from similarity and conformity.

“Why shouldn’t I be proud?”

Silence and shrugged shoulders.

“I’m proud of my boys, all three of you, because you each do what you do with conviction to your purpose and your beliefs.  I’m proud of your passion, your commitment to your actions that have purpose.  I don’t agree with everything that each of you does, but am certainly proud that you each pursue your ideas fully.  You don’t have to be like me for me to be proud of you.  But how about next time wearing a helmet?”

He had to suppress a laugh because of the stitches, but he nodded and smiled.

My sons know that I am proud of them, on many levels.  Just as my employees do.  But my son’s comment reminds me that we cannot tell others enough that not only are they doing a good job, but “I’m proud of you.”  It is easy to be if we look beyond the superficial and the actions that mirror our own; looking deeply into who a person is gives plenty of opportunity for pride.  Tell them so.

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