My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
I miss you so. I’m sorry to have been out of pocket this past week.
My sons, I cannot stress enough the import of being true to, and honest with, yourself. Be proud of who you are and of what you have accomplished. However, do NOT be PRIDEFUL and arrogant. That is unbecoming of a gentleman, and not the person I hope you’d become.
Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins “— sins that kill the life of sanctifying grace.” http://www.dummies.com/religion/christianity/catholicism/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-the-catholic-church/.
Pride fools you into thinking that you’re the source of your own greatness.
Liking yourself isn’t sinful. In fact, it’s healthy and necessary, but when the self-perception no longer conforms to reality, and you begin to think that you’re more important than you actually are, the sin of pride is rearing its ugly head.
REMEMBER: Pride is the key to all other sins, because after you believe that you’re more important than you actually are, you compensate for it when others don’t agree with your judgment. You rationalize your behavior and make excuses for lying, cheating, stealing, insulting, ignoring, and such, because no one understands you like you do. In your mind, you’re underestimated by the world.
Humility is the best remedy for pride. Catholicism regards humility as recognizing that talent is really a gift from God.
I know of a 60+ year-old woman who, to make herself look good, still brags about a job she lost more than 10 years ago and about how she managed tens of thousands of employees who worked in the company. Her pride caused her to fabricate wholesale a false narrative about the height to which she had reached in the corporate. Fools may fall for her lie, but anyone with knowledge about corporations know that only the CEO has the authority to manage, hire, or fire any employee within the company. Other executives and managers only have the authority to manage those employees within his or her department, and no more. Thus, this lady created pure fiction when she claimed management authority over all employees in the company.
Now, it is my understanding that the lady made this assertion in the midst of a discussion regarding possible collaborative project with others. How do you think the prideful and false assertion worked out for her? It takes little imagination to know she lost much credibility as a result. If she were willing to fabricate lies about inconsequential matters, to what length would she fabricate untruths about matters of consequence?
The lessons here are two-fold, my sons. First, honesty is the best policy. It is exhausting to keep abreast of what lies you have told to whom. (Watch Mrs. Doubtfire for an entertaining but poignant example of the impossible challenges of living a false narrative.
Second, pride comes before the fall. Don’t make up stuff just to make yourself look good. The truth will eventually be revealed. Be you, but be the best you. Be more kind than necessary, and help make the world a better place for you and everyone in it. But, don’t be prideful. Be honest about yourself and your contributions. We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, and would not have made the strides we did but for them. Give credit where it is due.
I have had the fortune of working with some amazing people during my career. Those I enjoy working with best and admire most — who also happen to be the most successful professionally — are the ones who are most humble in their approaches. For example, I once sought help from a colleague who is an expert on tax laws (and who is now a partner at one of the top-tier law firms). He candidly explained that he could help me with a couple of my lines of inquiry but that I would best be served by asking another colleague of ours (who is another tax expert) questions relating to the other line of inquiry. He knew his area of expertise, and he knew enough of the other area to answer my preliminary questions, but feared that if I dug deeper, I’d hit the limits of his knowledge. Thus, it was best to approach the lawyer with the most expertise in that area.
A wise man knows what he doesn’t know. Others, like children, often claim they know everything. For example, Shosh, when you were about three years old, you said, “Dad, I know French! ‘French fry!'” You were too cute.
As you engage with others, you will find that those most boastful are often those least skilled. Those who are truly skilled have no need to boast because their work speaks for itself, and their sterling reputation rests, in part, on them not speaking outside of their areas of expertise. Seek the company of the latter and avoid the former.
My advice to you to to better yourself, and be honest with yourself and others. Let your work speaks for itself. Be not prideful.
All my love, always,