The Dangers of Early Pride

3 min readDec 10, 2021

Christians believe that pride is a sin because it is a lie — it convinces people that they are better than they are, that they are better than God made them. Pride leads to arrogance and then away from humility and connection with their fellow man.

You don’t have to be Christian to see the wisdom in this. YOu need only to care about your career to understand that pride — even in real accomplishments — is a distraction and a deluder.

“Whom the gods wish to destroy,” Cyril Connoly famously said, “they first call promising.” Twenty-five hundred years before that, the elegiac poet Theognis wrote to this friend, “The first thing, Kurnos, which gods below on one they would annihilate, is pride” Yet we pick up this mantle on purpose.

Pride and ego say:

  • I am an entrepreneur because I struck out on my own
  • I am going to win because I am currently in the lead.
  • I am a writer because I published something.
  • I am rich because I made some money.
  • I am special because I was chosen
  • I am important because I think I should

Pride is a masterful encroacher.

John D Rockefeller, as a young man practiced a nightly conversation with himself. “Because you have a got a start” he’d say aloud or write in his diary, “you think you are quite a merchant; look out or you will lose your head — go steady.”

Early in his career, he’d had some success. He’d gotten a good job. He was saving money, He had a few investments. Considering his father had been a drunker swindler, this was no small feat. Rockefeller was on the right track. Understandably, a short of self-satisfaction with his accomplishments — and the trajectory he was heading in — began to sleep in. In a moment of frustration, he once shouted at a bank officer who refused to lend him money. “Someday I’ll be the richest man in the world”

Let’s count Rockefeller as maybe the only man in the world to say that and then go on to become the richest man in the world. But for every one of him, there are a dozen more delusional ass wholes who said the exact same thing and genuinely believed it, and then came nowhere close- in part because their pride worked against them, and made other people hate them too.

All of this was why Rockefeller knew he needed to rein himself in and privately manage his ego. Night after night he asked himself, “Are you going to be a fool? Are you going to let this money puff you up?” (However small it was.)” Keep your eyes open,” he admonished himself, “Don’t lose your balance.”

As the famous conqueror and warrior Genghis Khan groomed his sons and generals to succeed him later in life, he repeatedly warned them, “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead.” He told them that pride would be harder to subdue than a wild lion. He liked the analogy of a mountain. he would say, “Even the tallest mountains have animals that, when they stand on it, are higher than the mountain.”

We tend to be on guard against negativity, against the people who are discouraging us from pursuing our callings or doubting the visions we have for ourselves. This is certainly an obstacle to beware of, though dealing with it is rather simple. What we cultivate less is how to protect ourselves against the validation and gratification that will quickly come our way if we show promise. What we don’t protect ourselves against are people and things that make us feel good — or rather, too good. We must prepare for pride and kill it early — or it will kill what we aspire to. We must be on guard against that wild self-confidence and self-obsessions. “The first product of self-knowledge is humility” Flannery O-Connor once said. This is how we fight the ego, by really knowing ourselves.

Thanks for Reading.