A version of this article was first published in my monthly column for Troy Media
I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon is a brilliant article by Austin Murphy in the December 2018 issue of The Atlantic. Mr. Murphy articulates his personal career journey as a result of being in an industry disrupted by technology. What really resonated for me about his story was his transformation from shame to pride. Somehow, he found his way to seeing his new job as rigorous, challenging, fun, and something he strives to excel at. He discovered he can be - and has the right to be - proud of the job he does, whatever that job is.
After reading Mr. Murphy’s article, I found myself paying more attention to people doing their jobs. I noticed Jack, the cashier in Winners, whose attentiveness elicited a spontaneous “you should be in customer service” comment from a customer. He paused and beamed up at her, “thank you. I think customer service is my thing.” He clearly takes pride in what he does, and it shows. I contrast this with the bored, lackadaisical barista at my local coffee shop. While she is voluntarily employed in a service job, she clearly feels no pride in what she does and it also shows.
Is it important to feel pride in what you do?
According to researcher and author of Pride: The Secret of Success, Dr. Jessica Tracy, it is. Pride is a primary, universal human emotion and closely linked to self-esteem. As human beings, we are programmed to feel and express pride. I heard Dr. Tracy speak recently, and her ideas caused me to wonder, do we spend enough time thinking about how to maximize our opportunities to feel pride? We are really focused on being happy. Happy is good. But what about pride? How might we transform ourselves and our experience of life if we felt more pride? Since most of us spend the better part of our days working, it seems to me we ought to think about how we can maximize our opportunities to experience pride in our work.
How to experience more pride at work
One main source of pride is accomplishing or achieving something. For an athlete, winning a gold medal is a moment of pride. For a child, learning to tie one’s own shoes is also a moment of pride. Work provides an endless array of opportunities for achievement, sometimes large and often small. There are a number of ways to increase opportunities to feel pride: