My 5-year-old desperately wanted to ride in the kayak by himself. After all, he had been up and down our lake many times before on his own. He had been a strong swimmer since age 2.

This was a particularly windy day, and I cautioned him that it might be too windy for his small body to control the kayak. He insisted, so with lifejacket on tight, he pushed off from the shore onto the forty-acre lake.

As a precaution, I kept my kayak and paddleboat ready for the rescue mission. He paddled west, but his boat continued… east. He rowed harder, with his whole body, even to the point of emitting vocal grunts, but his kayak continued going east. No worries, the east end of the lake was near. He would be safe in the lily pads off the edge, until we would get him.

Noticing his frustration, I was sure he didn’t want to continue paddling forward while his boat was going backwards, so I asked my 8-year-old and two friends to take the paddleboat to tow my perseverant youngster back to the dock.

Within minutes, I heard screaming from the east end of the lake, as the 5-year-old protested his rescuers. “No! I can do it! I don’t need help! Let go!” His paddle was smacking the water, coming too close to my older son.

From the side, I yelled to my son in the paddleboat, “Untie the kayak; let him go on his own.”

The paddle “tow” boat returned to the dock alone. Ten minutes went by and I heard a low moaning sound. It got louder, as I recognized the sobs of my 5-year-old in the kayak, stuck in the lily pads. I continued talking with my friend on the shore, when one of her daughters came to me, concerned about my son. “He’s crying,” she said. “Should we go back out with the paddleboat?”

“No, I want him to ask for help,” I said.

The moans continued, soon becoming a downright loud, wordless sobbing.

We continued our conversation on the shoreline as if nothing was happening on the lake. The crying got louder… and louder, as I saw him looking out of the corner of his eye to see if we were watching. Finally, the tears stopped and the productive words, “Could someone please help me?” ensued.

Pride.

It’s the root of all conflict, according to John Maxwell.

It comes before the fall, according to the Bible.

There’s a fine line between confidence and pride, which is what got my son into trouble. He had experienced many successes in kayaking, in swimming, and in sports in general, so he had built confidence. But confidence turns into pride when you are unwilling to involve others in your success.

Team-building, networking, relationship-building and family life always include other people in your success, so there is no room for pride! No one has accomplished success completely alone.

Here are some signs when pride turns to problem:

1. Wanting to correct. People often ask, “How do I get my husband to ___?” or “How do I tell her that ___?” Live by the principle to never correct anybody, ever, and soon you will have people banging on your door for advice. Nobody was assigned the gift of reproach.

2. Talking too much or turning the subject onto yourself. I remember the days when I thought I was fortunate to have traveled, played sports and played musical instruments, because no matter what people were talking about, I could chime in. But what I was really pleased with was that I could always change the subject back to myself. I was missing the principle that the object of conversation is not to have people think highly of me, but rather think highly of themselves. It’s amazing how much more they like me if they like themselves when they are around me.

3. Talking or thinking lowly about others. It doesn’t lift you up to tear others down. Often quite the opposite. If you find yourself saying or even thinking that someone has never helped you and therefore you have nothing positive to say about the person, you may have a pride issue. Dale Carnegie says everyone is our superior in some way. The correct principle is best articulated by Benjamin Franklin: “I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth, but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.”

4. Being jealous or self-justifying. When someone gets an award, is your first reaction to think they certainly had it easier than you? If someone’s name gets mentioned (even someone on your team), do you secretly get jealous? John Wooden said, “It’s amazing how much we can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.”

5. Ranking people on how they deserve to be treated. Dave Barry states this best: “A person who is nice to you and rude to the waiter is not a nice person.” It’s not up to us to determine what someone deserves; it is up to us to be kind.

6. Resisting new information. Do you sometimes resist asking for advice, because you figure you know more than the counselor? Is your mind closed to an idea unless it’s your own? Are you struggling with an addiction and trying to solve it on your own? If so, you are not only hurting yourself but also your teammates. If you are stuck in lily pads, would you rather scream or allow someone to tie a rope to you and tow you out? Allowing others to feel they helped is inviting them to your victory party.

Keep your pride under control and watch your relationships grow. Your—and others’—victory depends on it.

TERRI BRADY, wife of bestselling author
Chris Brady, has taught success principles to
large audiences all over the world. An avid reader
and lifetime student, she pursues excellence in
business leadership and relationships as
well as in home schooling her four children.
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