“Tell me about an accomplishment that made you proud?”

I received this question in a recent interview. This question is an awkward position for a postmodern to respond to.

For someone like me, it’s like asking me what’s my favourite dinosaur. I suppose it’s fine to ask a 7-year-old, but it doesn’t work for me for several reasons.

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First, I don’t really react to ‘proud’. I’m a collaborator. Even so, I don’t see why I (or we) would be proud of an accomplishment. And. I’m not much into the notion of attachment. Siddhartha would be proud. (Just kidding. )

For this piece, I looked up the definition of ‘proud’:

feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements,
qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely

So, it’s not enough to be satisfied that you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. Proud and pride are odd concepts to me. Some people are proud to be part of some nationality or ethnic group—proud American or proud Italian. Obviously, these are not accomplishments. I suppose if one has to pass a citizenship test, then it might count as an accomplishment. I’m not sure it rises to the level of ‘pride’. I’m proud because we won the football match?

But the question posed to me was about work accomplishments. I’m not sure that my response was taken as authentic. And how could it have been? If I respond that the bronotsaurus is my favourite dinosaur, do you think they’ll catch on that I just blurted out the first thing that came into my head?

My first response was that I was proud of the time I spent teaching and giving back. It was a fulfilling experience. Proud feels a bit of an overstatement. There was a project that ended up yielding longtail benefits, but again, what’s there to be proud of? And for the group or team to be proud doesn’t feel any better. ‘Yay! We won the Superbowl. Isn’t the winning enough’? Sour grapes, I guess. Right?

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As a think about it, pride is about attachment—specifically ego attachment. Christians have a saying that ‘Pride cometh before a fall’. It’s one of their cardinal sins. I’m not a Christian, but it seems to me that it is not to be encouraged.

As a Buddhist, one might focus on the attachment aspect. Pride is about living in the past instead of the now. It’s not very Zen. I’m not judging.

My biggest problem is that I presume that a person who asks this type of question actually buys into the whole pride thing. That doesn’t help my cause.

“Not to come across as a Marxist, but I’m not really into the ‘Proud’ thing. Here are some stock responses.

I ask myself, is pride related to competition, or can one be proud in a different environment? It seems that there’s a connection. And, of course, there’s ego.

I wasn’t sure whether to share this on my philosophical blog or my business blog. In the end, I opted for philosophics.