The Mastery of Pride Over Shame

Paul Heagen Purposeful Leadership & Living Leave a Comment

Do you instill pride in people — or shame?


The “right” answer, of course is the first choice, but how easy is it to slip into the latter?


The contrast was on full display a few weeks ago when the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals stumbled to a attention-numbing 6-6 tie after regulation play and headed into overtime. Arizona placekicker Chandler Catanzaro (who had aced two long field goals in the game) had the winning field goal in sight — only 24 yards away — but managed to ricochet the ball off the wrong side of the uprights.


Then Seattle kicker Stephen Hauschka (who also had pegged two long kicks through the uprights in the game) shanked his left.


The two kicks put the ugly in “choke.”


It was after the game, however, that the true measure of leadership was on display. Arizona coach Bruce Arians. pressed by sportswriters about Catanzaro’s booted try, said:


“Make it. This is professional, this ain’t high school, baby. You get paid to make it.”
Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, facing the same withering question, said of Hauschka:


“(He) made his kicks to give us a chance and unfortunately he didn’t make the last one. He’s been making kicks for years around here, but he’s gonna hit a lot of winners as we go down the road here. I love him and he’s our guy.”


So, who will have the right frame of mind the next time he steps into the ball? Who is more likely to put their whole heart and soul into winning and being part of the team? These are both very capable people; that’s not the issue. Carroll held a persistent belief in his player against the backdrop of one of his greatest failures; Arians reminded his player how great his failure was.


T. Falcon Napier, my coach and a pioneer in the field of human performance, would say that what was on the display in that post-game briefing room was the difference between pride-based leadership and shame-based leadership. Carroll was willing to put aside his own disappointments and leverage something deeper in the heart of his player. Arians, by contrast, assigned his disappointment to his player by shaming him, perhaps in a perverse belief that people are motivated by that.


You have numbers to meet, targets to hit, outcomes to realize, but pride-based leadership is a gut-check leap into the belief that the best, sustainable way to reach exceptional performance is not to hang those numbers on the wall and force actions toward them, but to stir up the sense of pride that good people have to excel.

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