Jessica Tracy (@ProfJessTracy) is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she also directs the Emotion & Self Lab. She is the author of Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success. [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh listen!]
What We Discuss with Jessica Tracy:
- Pride is a universal human emotion and a force that can be harnessed to help humans succeed — it’s a key ingredient to confidence.
- Understand the difference between hubristic and authentic pride — why you should seek out one but try to minimize the other.
- Learn how pride intersects with grit.
- Identify pride to gain an advantage in shifting your own behavior and knowing how to react to others.
- Discover how the statuses of dominance and prestige are affected by pride.
- And much more…
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Jessica Tracy, psychologist and author of Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success joins us to explain the two forms pride takes, which one to avoid and which one to pursue, and what effect pride has on our interactions with others.
Check out this episode in its entirety to learn more about how cognitive dissonance plays into breaking out of — or sticking with — hubristic pride, what we can do to pursue authentic pride, the difference between domination and prestige as forms of status, the purpose of pride in human evolution and how it crosses cultures, and lots more. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh listen!]
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our episode with Somali pirate hostage Michael Scott Moore? Catch up with episode 115: Michael Scott Moore | What It’s Really like to Be a Pirate Hostage here!
Thanks, Jessica Tracy!
If you enjoyed this session with Jessica Tracy, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success by Jessica Tracy | Amazon
- Emotion & Self Lab | University of British Columbia
- Jessica Tracy | Twitter
- Self-Verification Theory by William B Swann, Jr. | Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology: Volume 2
- Srdja Popovic | Blueprint for Revolution | Jordan Harbinger
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth | Amazon
555: Jessica Tracy | Why Pride is the Deadly Sin of Success
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Jessica Tracy: People show up pride after experiencing a success, people from countries all over the world, and anyone who's watched the Olympics can see this. We actually did a study looking at Olympiads and that's how we found it. But we also looked at blind Olympiads, people in the Paralympic games. And so we had a sample of people who are congenitally blind, who've never been able to see. And our thinking was, well, if people like that, if they show the pride display, that's pretty likely to mean that this is innate and hardwired because it's hard to explain how they could have learned it, you know, without having ever seen anyone else show it. And that's exactly what we found that even congenitally blind athletes after winning a match would show pride.
[00:00:43] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional billionaire investor, drug trafficker, or legendary Hollywood director. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding on how the world and become a better critical thinker.
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[00:01:30] Today, one from the vaults we're talking with Jessica Tracy, author of Take Pride. As we'll discuss today, pride is really a magnifying glass that we sort of can put on ourselves. We'll hear about the two types of pride when you should have them, when you should seek to limit them, and of course, we'll learn how to move from one to the other. Unhealthy to the healthy forms of pride that actually can serve us. We'll also explore how pride forms those around us, both at home and at work and dictates the level of achievement we're capable of reaching in our lives. Of course, if you're too proud, you limit yourself and yada, yada, and we'll go into that. Of course, spotting and being aware of pride and how it gives us a huge advantage in shifting our own behavior and knowing how to read to others, depending on their sources and expressions of pride. So this is a great arrow in our quiver on typing human personality and predicting the behavior of others, as well as spotting it in ourselves.
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[00:02:41] Now, here we go with Jessica Tracy.
[00:02:48] Jessica, thanks for coming on. Your time is in demand and the book is really good. And I appreciate you coming up.
[00:02:52] Jessica Tracy: Thanks so much. Thanks for having me.
[00:02:54] Jordan Harbinger: There are two kinds of pride. Explain this and tell me what this is all about. Because first of all, when I think of pride, I kind of think, all right, there's the ego and that just kind of all I've got really for it. I just think I'm proud of this. I'm proud of that. Sometimes it's healthy. Sometimes it's not. Well, you've done the work on this and there are two types of pride. I want to know why these are important.
[00:03:16] Jessica Tracy: Yeah. And I think your intuitive kind of view of it probably is on target. You know, the fact that you say, well, sometimes it's good or sometimes it's healthy and sometimes it's not, you're right. And what we found is that that's because there's two kinds of pride. The good one or healthy one, we call authentic pride. And that's the pride that you feel when you've worked really hard for an accomplishment or an achievement that's important to you, important to your sense of self. I mean, it typically makes you feel kind of a genuine sense of self-confidence. It's what we feel when we feel, like we're accomplishing things. We feel good about ourselves in a real genuine way. The other kind of pride, we call hubristic pride. And this is the pride that's much more about arrogance, egotism, conceitedness. We often identify it in other people. I think as much as we feel it in ourselves, we're just as likely to say, "Oh, that guy, he's got hubris do pride," but we do feel it in ourselves as well.
[00:04:03] And we found that people will report feeling hubristic pride. They will report feeling arrogant, overconfident I think he would say. And what it looks like we found is that hubristic pride is linked to a lot of psychological problems. People who tend to feel this kind of pride tend to have poor social relationships. They don't care so much about others. They're unempathic. As a result, they don't have great friendships or interpersonal relationships or romantic relationships. Whereas the authentic pride is really great for all that stuff. Authentic pride makes us want to like others and be close to others and help others. And it helps build our relationships in a way.
[00:04:35] Jordan Harbinger: When I was younger and less emotionally healthy, I feel like I leaned much more towards the hubristic pride, but even then I kind of knew it was fake. It was like, "Well, if they don't like me, they're idiots. So screw them. And I don't care about them." And I'm going to, you know, not work with them on this project or sabotage their work or spread rumors about them. I mean, we're talking like middle school, high school crapola here, but even then I kind of realized, I wouldn't have even thought about that as pride. It was so transparently false. And I think as adults, it seems like we get really good at kidding ourselves about what type of pride we're actually experiencing. The line seems to get thinner as I get older and better at rationalizing bad behavior.
[00:05:15] Jessica Tracy: Yeah. That's really interesting that you say when you were younger, you were kind of aware of the falseness of hubristic pride because I absolutely agree. It is based on something artificial, right? It really is this defensiveness. It's sort of this unconscious, or conscious in some cases, feeling of insecurity. And the way that we cope with that insecurity is to fight against it. You know, "You don't like me, well tough. I'm going to not like you more. I'm going to show you how tough I can be."
[00:05:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:05:38] Jessica Tracy: That leads to the bullying, you know, really kind of aggressing out against others as a way to protect the self. And I think you're right. You know, it's interesting that young people might be aware of what they're doing. I think you're right that adults often aren't. That we do kid ourselves and we get really good at deceiving ourselves and thinking, "No, I am the best. I absolutely should be acting like this. I deserve to be the best. People should look up to me. People should treat me this way. I'm entitled to this." We really kind of believe this grandiose sense of self that we've constructed. In many cases throughout our whole lives, we've been constructing his grandiose sense of self as a way of protecting ourselves from that insecurity.
[00:06:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It seems like it's a construct that we create in order to, yeah, like you said, protect ourselves. And there's a lot of sunk cost involved, right? Because when you're a kid, you can kind of go, "Today, I'm this. Well, today, I'm that. Okay. No, no, I'm not doing that anymore." But as an adult, you can't go, "Well, I've been this way for 20 years. Maybe I should totally do a 180." And luckily, usually for us working on ourselves here, it's not going to require a 180 to get out of it. It's usually five degrees to the left, eight degrees to the right. It's like steering a ship, but in the same way that it is like steering a ship, it can be hard to go, "Wow, I've just made up a huge facade that is terrible and not serving me well. And that has destroyed lots of my relationships." Instead of doubling down on it, maybe I should figure out how to feel.
[00:06:55] Jessica Tracy: Yeah. I think you're absolutely right. That we get so locked into the sense of ourselves. It is really hard to get out of it, especially if our entire sense of self-worth is based on it. If we've kind of come to believe, "Well, the only reason people like me, the only reason people look up to me, or do what I want them to do is because they believe in this concept of me that I know isn't real." That's a really hard thing to give up on, but I think you're absolutely right. That when it comes down to it, people always are happy to see someone be less arrogant. They're never disappointed by that. And so if someone who has behaved that way can switch gears a bit, can sort of say, "You know what, I'm going to listen to what other people have to say this time. I'm not going to just invoke my own view. I'm actually going to smart people who have advice for me and kind of listen to them and see what they have to say." That's always going to be welcomed. It's never going to be, "Hey, that's not who we thought you were." That's always going to be sort of appreciated by one's friends. And I think it really can change a person's life and relationships.
[00:07:47] Jordan Harbinger: Have you looked into the cognitive dissonance that's created when somebody views us one way and we actually view ourselves a different way and what that effect might have? Because I feel like that really does intersect well with pride. For example, if I think of myself as, well, you know, I'm not that good at this, or I'm not that good at that, or I'm not that knowledgeable in this field, and yet I'm getting a bunch of email from people as I have been for the last 10 years that say, "You're doing this, and this is amazing. And I really liked that." That was very difficult for me for the first five years. I hadn't quite melded into that identity yet. And I feel like it was really unhealthy and basically highlighted all the things I thought were shortcomings rather than made me think that they were somehow being replaced with more authentic pride. And so it seems like if you let hubristic pride go unchecked, and if you let people also fill your head with things that should fill you with authentic pride, you end up with this weird gap between where your authentic pride should be and where your hubristic pride is. And this gap, you can live in there and it's not nice.
[00:08:48] Jessica Tracy: Yeah. There's this theory called self-verification theory by this psychologist named Bill Swann. And he's talked a lot about this idea that we don't like it when people see us in a way that doesn't resonate with how we see ourselves. Even if they see us kind of what you were suggesting, they see us better than we see ourselves. Sort of they say, "Oh, you know, you're so great in this way." We sort of feel like, "No, I'm not great in that way. You don't really know me." We don't really like it.
[00:09:11] And for people who have low self-esteem, it leads to all kinds of problems. Because, ironically, they actually kind of want to be validated in their low self-esteem at one level. At one level, they don't feel good about themselves, but at another level, if you feel bad about yourself and someone else is always telling you, "No, you're great. You're great." It doesn't really help. It just makes you feel like you're not understood. And that can be really problematic.
[00:09:28] And I think you're right. The two prides do play into this, right? Because one way of coping with that is to sort of bury those feelings of not feeling good and kind of just go with, "They think I'm great. I'm going to go with that." And it doesn't feel real, you know, it does feel false and it does become this artificial kind of hubristic pride, which can lead to problems.
[00:09:44] Jordan Harbinger: Well, in the book, it seems that hubristic pride is a source of a lot of human downfalls. And unfortunately, that pride lies at the heart of human nature. Let's talk about what hubristic pride can do and why it's bad. And then we can sort of move into why pride is good and necessary for us to survive and evolve and be where we are today as humans.
[00:10:04] Jessica Tracy: Sure. So hubristic pride we found basically because it's defensive because it is this thing that people experience as a way of protecting themself, it causes people to engage in this sort of grandiose arrogant manner, where they're constantly talking about how great they are showing superiority over others and people basically as a way of kind of feeling good about themselves, become quite willing to put others down to manipulate others, take advantage of them.
[00:10:29] In one study, we found that, you know, it's not just the case that people who dispositionally tend to feel hubristic pride, who have it as a trait do this. But actually anyone manipulated to experience hubristic pride or, you know, through experimental methods, we lead people to feel hubristic pride by asking them to recall a time when they felt hubristic pride, and we've all been there. We've all had it. So anyone can do this. When in that experience, when feeling those emotions, people actually tend to be more mean. Put down others who are different from them. So we did this and we asked people to make judgements about people of a different ethnicity group, typically a minority ethnicity group or gay people if they were straight, so minority sexual group.
[00:11:07] In both cases, feelings of hubris through pride led people to actually make worse judgments of these other group members. Suggesting that hubristic pride can actually lead people to engage in prejudice. And that makes sense, I think, because engaging in prejudice is a good way to feel good about yourself, right? If you sort of have this artificial sense of self and you need to constantly bolster it, putting down others who are easy targets as stigmatized others tend to be, is one way of doing that. It's obviously a really societaly problematic way. You can imagine all the pitfalls that are going to happen to society if our leaders feel a lot of hubristic pride because hubristic pride does get people power. If those leaders engage in prejudice, which I think might happen.
[00:11:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course, looking at things like Ekman and emotions and where they appear in our mind, in our body. What we think is shaped by, of course, how we feel and then we rationalize that behavior. Our brain tries to figure out why we're feeling a certain way and back it up with quote- unquote facts or alternative facts as the buzzword of the day happens to be. And you can say something like, "Oh, well, I'm prejudiced against this person because of hubristic pride," but I'm going to rationalize that I was watching something on Vice the other day about right wing extremists and national socialists. And it was just like Asian people kind of look like cats, so they must be lower on the evolutionary scale and equal to cats and not humans. And I was just like this from a guy that has like three teeth, right? So clearly hubristic pride is playing a role in this. Can we have pride serve us and not the other way around? I mean, it seems like hubristic pride basically turns us into slaves in a lot of ways, because then it dictates our behavior in negative ways.
[00:12:39] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, I absolutely think so, but we can, that's the beauty of authentic pride. You know, I really think people often distinguish between having a little pride or too much pride. And I don't actually think it's about quantity. I think it's more about quality. And I think if you have the right kind of pride, it can be great for you. And that's what authentic pride is. Authentic pride doesn't make people put others down. We found no evidence of that.
[00:12:59] In fact, when we've experimentally manipulated people to feel authentic pride, they actually respond by being nicer to other people who are different from them. They show empathy toward outgroups. We call groups of people minority groups who are different. And I think that's because when you genuinely feel good about yourself, when you feel confident, like you're accomplished, there's no reason to put others down and you sort of can be more generous about it. You can help others, you can give others advice. And that's what authentic pride makes people want to do. It makes us want to take care of others and help them. And I think there's evolutionary reasons for this, right?
[00:13:29] Authentic pride, we think, evolved to help people attain prestige, which is a kind of high rank that's based on respect. Prestigious leaders are the ones that we look up. And in order to get prestige, you have to be admired. You also have to be well-liked. Because prestige is the kind of leadership that followers willingly grant. We choose our prestigious leaders because they're the people that not only do we look up to them, but we like them, we think they're going to help us. And so it's very useful for authentic pride to kind of engender this willingness to help, this willingness to advise, and allow others to learn from.
[00:13:59] Jordan Harbinger: I want to dive deeper into authentic pride in a bit, of course, but I want to kind of highlight the differences as well, ego versus fulfillment. What causes different types of pride to occur? Because it's clear that we have one or the other or one and the other and what behavior this causes. But do we know why we end up with hubristic, narcissistic pride? What causes that? Because I feel like when we highlight those things, we can then sort of highlight, all right, then what causes authentic pride? How can we get more of that? And that's the direction I want to move the show.
[00:14:28] Jessica Tracy: Sure. Yeah. So, I mean, at a basic kind of experiential cognitive level, people tend to feel hubristic pride, or they're more likely to feel hubristic pride, if they attribute something about themselves or their success to something global and uncontrollable and stable about who they are. So for example, well, if I'm a student and I do well on an exam and I say, "Oh, well, that's because I'm just really smart. That's something I can't really control. It's stable. And it's sort of not going to change." That is more likely to lead to hubristic pride than if I were to say, "You know, I did well on that exam because I studied really hard." That's a specific behavior. That's more controllable, it's less stable. It's something that I actually have the power to change or not.
[00:15:09] And that's what leads to authentic pride when we actually attribute events to things that are more controllable and unstable. So that's kind of an attribution cognitive level, that distinction, but I think there are broader personality differences that lead people to make these kinds of attributions, right? So someone who is more narcissistic as a personality disposition, that person is more likely to make the kinds of attributions that will lead to hubristic pride. And correspondingly, someone who has genuine self-esteem, not narcissistic, but genuinely feels a true sense of self-confidence, that person is more likely to make the kinds of attributions that will lead to authentic pride.
[00:15:42] Jordan Harbinger: This starts to make more sense. When I think about the kids who I grew up with that were maybe really well off and their first car was a BMW convertible and things like that. They weren't necessarily bad people, but as we got older, I noticed that their level of insecurity, no matter what they did, was still growing for a lot of these guys and girls. Because what had happened was their parents set them up to win in such a way that if anything went wrong, it sort of really poked at their ego and their insecurities, because they were probably secretly worried that they'd been handed everything. And we're not sure as to whether or not they were achieving things or they were just a fortunate winner of the lottery upon where you're born and who your parents are. And that got worse over time if they didn't really create their own achievements, if they didn't work hard in athletics or school or something like that. It just got worse and worse and worse as they saw other people who are like them develop in more healthy ways.
[00:16:40] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, absolutely. I think that if you base your sense of self-worth on the stuff you have, these kinds of things, the fancy cars, and you aren't the one who got that stuff. And, you know, deep down, I have this stuff, not because of anything I've done or any kind of hard work I've put in, you're going to feel hubristic pride. And that's not to say don't be a rich kid. Don't have stuff. The answer is to not base your sense of self-worth on it. So if you can know, "Yeah. You know, my parents had enough money to buy me this car, and I'm really fortunate to have that. I'm going to then do my own thing and find ways of using that car or using the things that I've been given to my own accomplishments." Then you can have a real basis for feeling authentic pride, but if you're constantly basing your sense of self-worth on stuff that you've gotten due to others, and you know, it's due to others, but you need to somehow find a way of attributing that success or that accomplishment to yourself, it's going to be artificial.
[00:17:31] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Of course. And then you end up with that narcissistic pride that covers up the ego and the deep seated insecurities. So you're sort of putting whipped cream on the turd instead of actually cleaning it up in the first place. And it seems like the worse you feel, of course, the more strongly you're going to react because you want to cover those feelings of shame and it could be a real vicious cycle I would imagine.
[00:17:51] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, you know, I think so, absolutely because you're right. The more that sort of you're covering it up, the more you know that you're lying and deceiving yourself, the more shame the kind of just stays there and gets buried. And the more covering up in lying that you have to do
[00:18:07] Jordan Harbinger: The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Jessica Tracy. We'll be right back.
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[00:20:12] Jordan Harbinger: Now back to Jessica Tracy on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:20:17] Is pride hard wired, or is this a social construct that we're dealing with here?
[00:20:21] Jessica Tracy: No, it is hardwired. So this is one of the neat things we've found is that people all over the world have pride. We did this by studying the nonverbal display that people show when they're feeling pride. So they engage in this kind of expansive postural behavior, their head tilts up, they smile a bit. And we've shown photos of people showing pride to people all over the world. We went to Burkina Faso, which is in West Africa and showed photos of pride displays to villagers, living in this kind of remote area, rural countryside, mud huts. No electricity, no plumbing, really no contact with Western cultures. And they looked at these photos and they said, "Yeah, that's pride." Which is really kind of nice evidence that this is something that people all over the world know. It's not something we've created in American culture or Western culture. It's something that people really would have no way of accessing those cultures, nonetheless, know it.
[00:21:10] The other thing we found I should say is that people show pride after experiencing a success, people from countries all over the world, and anyone who's watched the Olympics can see this. We actually did a study looking at Olympiads and that's how we found it. But we also looked at blind Olympiads, people in the Paralympic games. And so we had a sample of people who are congenitally blind, who've never been able to see. And our thinking was, "Well, if people like that, if they show the pride display, that's pretty likely to mean that this is innate and hardwired because it's hard to explain how they could have learned it, you know, without having ever seen anyone else show it." And that's exactly what we found that even congenitally blind athletes after winning a match would show pride.
[00:21:49] Jordan Harbinger: Right. No one says, "Look, if you win and they announce your name, raise your hands up really high in the air, smile and jump around a lot. And that's how you'll show that you're excited."
[00:21:58] Jessica Tracy: I mean, that's the only alternative hypothesis. And some people have argued that, "Well, you know, everyone knows to raise your hands in the air." There are even songs that say put your hands up and that kind of thing. But we found things like chest expansion, right? So it's hard to imagine that these people were told, "Expand your chest." Like that's a really kind of specific small of grand behavior. It's hard to imagine that that could work that way but always a possibility.
[00:22:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Yeah. Sure. Change your rate of breathing and stand up straight, elongate the spine. We want to see the chin elevated at like 15 degrees. Yeah, it seems like your hypothesis is probably more likely when combined, especially with other factors as well. So we know we show pride, we know a little bit about why we do this. When we look at things like chimps and gorillas and stuff like that, how does pride function there? Because whenever we look at animals, all the stuff that humans do tends to be just exaggerated times a hundred, because they don't have language. So I'm wondering, did you look at chimps and gorillas and go, "Oh, okay. This is the function pride serves in humanity, probably except for when a chimp does it wrong, they get killed or torn apart or something like this."
[00:22:57] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a really useful way to try to figure out why we have pride and where it comes from to look at some of our nonhuman, primate ancestors. Or we can't look at the ancestors, but we can look at our cousins, which is what chimps are. In fact, there's a lot of evidence from primatologists to suggest that chimps do this thing called a bluff display. And it looks a lot like the pride expression, right? They stand up on their hind legs, which is not how chimps usually stand. They usually use all four legs, but they stand up on their hind legs. They push their chest out. Their hair kind of stands up on end, and what's known as piloerection. It's sort of like the chills, but it makes them look bigger, basically. An alpha chimp will do it, an alpha male, if he feels like he's being challenged. So it's a way of saying, "Hey. I'm the boss, you better back off, you better watch out." It's a way of sort of threatening a challenger basically.
[00:23:43] This is not really how we use the pride display. Most of the time we usually experience pride and show the display after we'd had an achievement, not kind of before. Some sort of agonistic encounter, some sort of fight as a way of threatening people when we do that. And I think we do do that, but that's much more of a dominance display. I think it's more intentional. It's more of, "I'm going to show this guy what I'm doing." So I think that's the difference between humans and chimps. And I think it's something that's evolved along with humans, unique sense of self. I don't think chimps experience pride in the way that we do simply because they don't have a complex sense of self and the way that we do, right?
[00:24:15] They can recognize themselves in the mirror, which is quite advanced. Very few animals can do that. We don't have any evidence to suggest that they hold in mind the complex, various self-representations that we hold. The sense of, you know, who I am now is who I'll be tomorrow, my relative place in every different group that I have and how it varies across the different groups, how I might be high status in one group and low status in another group. And all the various ways in which we're able to think about ourselves and incredibly complex ways. I don't think chimps have that. And the fact that we have it gives us a lot more than they have in terms of getting along with others, accomplishing things, being motivated to achieve certain kinds of things and hold up a certain reputation. So there's a lot of advantages to having that kind of self. And I think with it comes, this need to sort of, after you have an accomplishment, convey it to others through a pride expression. I think that's why we do it after, rather than before.
[00:25:04] Jordan Harbinger: I assume that's because that affects social status and things like that in modern society.
[00:25:09] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, exactly. And we found that when we see other humans display pride, we have this unavoidable automatic sense that they deserve high status. We've done studies where we've shown people who are clearly low status. Will have a homeless person, for example, showing pride, we know homeless people, they are sort of the lowest status segment of society. But when we see them show pride, our brains automatically perceive them as high status and we can't help, but make that perception. You've only instructed people in various ways to not do that. They sort of can't override that tendency to see the private expression as indicating high status.
[00:25:39] And that generalizes across cultures as well. We actually did a study in Fiji, again with people who are totally cut off from the Western world. And when they see pride displays, they have the same automatic response. They sort of can't help, but see that person as deserving high status.
[00:25:52] Jordan Harbinger: So is the right type of pride, namely authentic pride, is that somehow then beneficial to society? And if not, why haven't we gotten rid of it yet?
[00:26:00] Jessica Tracy: You know it is. It's very much beneficial to society. I think it's, you know, one of the most important reasons why our societies are as complex and developed as they are actually, is because of authentic pride. I think that it's what motivates us to achieve, to do all the great things we do, whether it's art or science, technology, or being a good person, whether that means, taking care of your children, taking care of your family, being a good partner. All that stuff the reason we do it is because we want to feel authentic pride. We want to feel good about ourselves. And when we don't feel it, when we realize we're lacking that sense of authentic pride, we don't feel good about what we're doing in our lives, we make a change. And we're motivated to make a change because of the desire to feel authentic pride.
[00:26:40] So in the book, I tell examples of this. I could give you an empirical example. We did a study in which we looked at how students responded to exam performance. They would take an exam, a real class exam. And then we looked at how they did, and we asked them to report how much pride they felt in response. And our thinking was that students who did really well would feel a lot of authentic pride. And then that feeling would kind of motivate them to work even harder in the future. They would do even better and sort of pride would be, get more success. But that's not exactly what happened. It turned out that the people who did well felt pride and they did well again in the future, but the pride that they felt had no impact on their future success, because those are people who, regardless of their feelings, they're studying hard, they're doing well. They know how to succeed in the exam domain. Pride isn't going to play a role one way or another.
[00:27:25] What was interesting was that the people who didn't do well on an exam, the people who did poorly. Many of those people told us that they felt a lack of pride. They did not feel authentic pride in their performance, which is correct. They shouldn't. And because of that lack of pride, we found they changed their behavior. They told us they were going to study differently for their next exam. Those differences, that sort of thing, new way of studying or new amount of studying actually led to an improved performance on the next exam, which we were able to trace back directly to that lack of authentic pride. So in other words, for people who did badly, the lack of pride they felt in their performance directly contributed to them changing their performance, doing better in the future. And so that tells us pride is motivational. The desire to feel pride is what gets us to work hard.
[00:28:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So authentic pride is, it sounds like it's critical for fostering achievement and working on long-term goals and putting in the work. You mentioned that both forms of pride are adaptive earlier. What does each form of pride do that works for us? Because it seems like all we've talked about is hubristic pride being bad, but obviously it has a function.
[00:28:29] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, you know, I agree. Both forms of pride are adaptive in the evolutionary sense, which means I think they help us spread our genes, not in a psychological sense. And I think that's an important distinction. Something can help us spread our genes, but not being good for our psychology. It can make us not feel like we're a good person while still helping us spread our genes. And I think that's the case with hubristic pride. The reason for this is that both forms of pride help us attain high status. They both help us climb the social ladder. Get high rank.
[00:28:56] Authentic pride, I talked about it, helps us get prestige by basically making us seek out those accomplishments. Work hard toward achievements. Having achievements is basically a way of telling others that we are an accomplished person who deserves respect, power, status. And others willingly choose to defer to us. They choose to look up to us, treat us as leaders because they want to learn from us. They think that we have something valuable to contribute to it. And prestigious people are nice about it, right? They like prestigious people. And so they think, "Okay, well this is going to be a good deal. I'm going to have a leader who I like and respect, and he or she will be nice to me." That's why authentic pride is adaptive.
[00:29:28] Hubristic pride also gets people power, but it's a very different kind of power. And we call this kind of dominance. So hubristic pride basically motivates people to engage in behaviors like aggression, grandiosity, putting others down. These behaviors allow people to basically take control, take charge, even when followers don't want to give them power. So this is sort of the power that comes from intimidation and threat, right? This is the leader who, it's not that people look up to, but people feel they have no choice, but to give him power because he says, "I'm going to fire you if you don't do what I say." That boss who kind of constantly uses that threat as a way of retaining power. And there are bosses like this, unfortunately. I think many of us know people who are like this, whether it's a boss or a coworker, schoolyard bully. The person who gets power by saying, "If you don't give me what I want, I'm going to take your lunch money. I'm going to beat you up. I'm going to control this resource that I have." Often wealth, in a really manipulative and aggressive way, essentially forcing you to give me the power I want. And it works.
[00:30:26] We found that in small groups of undergraduates working together on a task. People with real dominance actually do get power. You know, it's kind of amazing. These are groups of people who will probably never see each other again. They don't know each other before. They have no reason to fear these other people. And yet what they tell us is that guy in the group who they found to be kind of threatening and scary, who they didn't like. He was a leader. He did get power. And we validated that by having externally outside people watch videos of these interactions and they say, "Yeah, that guy was a leader. That guy is able to convince people to adopt his opinions."
[00:30:57] We look at behavioral measures of who is able to convince people to do what they want the most, the dominant people are quite effective. The prestigious people are too. It's not the prestige doesn't work. It's that they both work. Both are an effective way of getting ahead in groups. So I think that's why hubristic pride is adaptive. It helps foster this sense of dominance. But, you know, you're not going to have people like you, but you are going to get power.
[00:31:19] Jordan Harbinger: Prestige is something where if your friend has it and he's your friend, it rubs off on you. So you want other people around you to also have prestige because it makes all of you more prestigious. Basically the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in this way. Whereas dominance is kind of a zero sum game where if you have it I don't. So authentic pride being transitive here, if we're going to translate this down to our value scale along with your scale of dominance versus prestige, it seems like we would almost always want to choose authentic pride and prestige over dominance and hubristic pride. Because it's, one, better in the long run because you're actually well-liked and two, you can constantly ratchet that up, right? If you look at celebrities that we like, guys like Mike Rowe, for example, everyone loves that guy. If you hung out with him, you wouldn't be like, "Oh, I got to show them how I'm better than Mike Rowe." You just be like, "I'm hanging out with Mike Rowe," right? So you'd be stoked about that. Why do people choose the strategy of dominance and hubristic pride versus the strategy, the long-term win of authentic pride and prestige? Why do people go there?
[00:32:24] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, it's a great question because I absolutely agree with you that both get you powered, but prestige also makes people like you. It's a win-win for everyone. It has longer staying power because even if you're no longer able to sort of back up your accomplishments, people like you, so they're not going to kick you out. They're still going to keep you in the group even if you're not as high status as you once were. Dominance, as soon as they lose their power, they're out. You can think of the chimp when alpha chimp can no longer back up his claims of threat, he's often killed or disgraced in various ways. So it is the better strategy in that way. However, it's not attainable for everyone.
[00:32:56] You know, I think there's both an objective sense in which it's not attainable. If you're not someone who can accomplish things, if you don't have the skills or the intelligence to get things done, it's going to be very hard for you to attain prestige. And if you're someone like that, but who's still big and strong or wealthy, you might think, "I don't have to be a low ranking member of the group." That's what happens if you have nothing. If you don't have the wealth or the strength or the smarts, you're just a low status group member and that's fine, but if you're big and strong, or wealthy, you might think, "You know what? I can get power. I can run this group." And if you don't have the intelligence or the competence to get prestige, it's a viable way to go.
[00:33:31] There's also personality factors. Some people dispositionally due to a combination of genetics and environmental upbringing aren't very agreeable, right? There's people out there who are just kind of irritable jerky, emotionally unstable, volatile, due to personality stuff. For those people, it's going to be very hard to attain prestige because an important part of prestige is getting other people to like you, being sort of charming, being nice, being helpful to others. A dominant doesn't have to be well-liked and dominant in fact is often not well-liked. And so if you have sort of a naturally disagreeable personality, dominance is going to be a more viable strategy for you to take
[00:34:06] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Jessica Tracy. We'll be right back.
[00:34:10] This episode is sponsored in part by Blue Moon. Blue Moon is on a mission to bring some brightness to your life. Break up the old routine. From its refreshing flavor with Valencia orange peel for a subtle sweetness and hints of coriander. Does anybody even know what coriander tastes like though? I don't know. I don't even know, but it's in Blue Moon, whatever. It's a one of a kind beer. That much I know because they wrote it right here in the copy. Blue Moon is here to break up the day and remind you what life is like when you step out of your routine. After the monotony of being home and working for way too long, I would love to be able to go out into, of course, a very safe, open air facility and have much needed quality time with friends hanging out. Of course, consumed a little bit of beer here and there. Those once in a blue moon moments should really happen more than once in a blue moon. Of course, it's also the official beer that I drink with pizza.
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[00:37:41] And now for the rest of my conversation with Jessica Tracy.
[00:37:46] We see people trying to control pride in certain ways, especially the dominance and hubristic pride. I feel like we see people in groups controlling this. And looking back at high school and middle school, and even now in the Internet, let's be real. If you see somebody who you think, "Oh, this person doesn't deserve the type of pride they have," you either try to minimize it and ignore them or cast them out or you make fun of them and you make caricatures of them. And we see this with Srdja Popovic here on the show a few months ago, who had helped foster a revolution in the former Yugoslavia against Slobodan Milošević.
[00:38:18] And one of their main tools was let's make fun of him. "Because we're never going to be able to outgun this dictator who controls the military. And it's terrorizing our country and standing off against the United States. We can't really minimize it because he's got secret police and he's pervasive in our lives. But what we can do is spray pink caricatures of him." And I think, at one point, they had a barrel that had a cartoon of him kind of spray painted on it. And they had a hammer near there and they had a sign, that says, "Wax Slobo," and people were just walking by bashing this barrel until the police came by and arrested a big spray painted barrel or garbage can. And so they used all these types of techniques to ridicule dictators, and we see this with Otpor, his organization, exporting to send to other countries as well. We try to ridicule leaders that we don't like. We see plenty of that happening right now in the United States as well.
[00:39:08] So there seem to be methods of control against pride that we feel is unjustified. Does that happen more with hubristic pride or does it happen equally with authentic pride as well?
[00:39:19] Jessica Tracy: My guess is that it happens more with hubristic pride. I mean, it's sort of a societal question, not a psychological question. So I can't draw on my psychological expertise that much, but I think it makes sense that it'd be more effective with hubristic pride, because hubristic pride has this artifice, this defensive quality that really is sort of based on this inflated artificial sense of self. It is a viable way to take someone down, right? Someone who feels a sense of hubris and is constantly ridiculed and attacked is going to respond, is going to get really angry, really upset, is going to lash out and fight back.
[00:39:48] That's what people who are narcissistic do. When they're attacked, even if it's for something meaningless, even if it's for something that you think, "Why would they possibly care about this thing? They're leaders of this country, why should they care if someone's making fun of their haircut?" Or, you know, whatever it is, their hand size, they feel they have to kind of defend against everything and attack against everything. And that's the hubristic pride. That's that need that constant sense of, "I'm not good enough. So anytime anyone comes after me, I need to fight back and show that." So it's an effective means I think of kind of getting under someone's skin and knowing them and potentially revealing to others that hubristic pride. I think the hope in many cases is that other people who support the person will come to see their arrogance as arrogance. You know, see it for what it is as sort of artifice. If they see, "Wow, this person who should be caring about these big things is getting all wrapped up in this little kind of fight. This little battle that's meaningless." That might be kind of a wake up call to followers.
[00:40:42] People who feel authentic pride who have a genuine sense of self competence. I don't think it's particularly effective for it because if you truly feel good about who you are, if someone makes fun of you or ridicules you, you should be able to kind of blow it off. "It's who cares what they think. I know who I am. The people who know me know who I am, the people who respect me, respect me for who I am. They can say what they want. They've got their own thing going on." It shouldn't bother you so much. And there's evidence to suggest that the people who have genuine self-esteem aren't particularly bothered by kind of little meaningless attacks. Negative feedback on an essay for a school class, or even for a research study that shouldn't matter at all drives people who are narcissistic crazy. Right. They lash out. They want to fight back. People with genuine self-esteem are able to kind of blow it off and say, "Who cares?"
[00:41:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think this is a great sort of arrow in our quiver on typing human behavior. So what can you tell us about moving from more hubristic pride and external sort of validation in ourselves and the associated problems that that causes to more authentic pride? What can I do to be more authentically proud if I find that I might be lacking in that area?
[00:41:45] Jessica Tracy: I would think that the key is to think about who you are, what's most important to you in terms of who you are, and try to not think about what other people think. It's really hard, because I don't want to say, well, authentic pride is not at all about what other people think, because that's not true. You know, the things that we come to feel authentically proud of ourselves are typically things that we've learned from inculturation growing up in whatever society we've grown up in. These are things we should care about. These are things that we've sort of learned throughout our life we should care about. But at the same time, if you're someone who tends toward hubristic pride and you know that about yourself, I think it can be really useful to kind of step back, shut out those voices, and just for a moment, think who am I what's most important to the kind of person I want to be and what can I do to get there? I think the question people often ask is, well, what if I'm not feeling pride in my life? I think that's a really common thing. Not that I'm feeling hubristic pride, but I'm just going about my everyday job. It's fine. Everything's going well. But I'm not feeling that sense of real accomplishment. That sense of pride that I longed to feel.
[00:42:41] And, you know, in the book I told a story about how I felt this way back right when I graduated college and I was working in a cafe, which I really liked. I had plenty of time to read and hang out and do all the things I want to do, but I wasn't having that sense of pride. I was really missing it. And so I think that's where the key is to think, "Okay, well, what kind of person do I want to be? And what do I need to do to get there?" And it could be as simple as, "You know what? I miss having art in my life. I want to spend some time taking a photography class," or, "I miss feeling like I'm being accomplished with my body and my athleticism. I'm going to go start a running program. I'm going to train for a marathon or half marathon," or it could be, "You know, I need to feel like I'm helping my kid more. I'm going to go coach her soccer team." You know, there's lots of different ways to do it. And it could be to the point, "I need to change my career around this career is never going to let me feel pride in who I am. I need to find a way to have the career that I've always dreamed of having that really fits with the way that I see myself." So there's a whole range of things to do, but I think that's the key.
[00:43:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This makes sense. Right. Having something in one area where we can sort of always strive to get to the next level, whether that's something with art, whether that's something in our career, or both. And it seems like, yes, you probably need to be fulfilled in multiple areas. And I know we're kind of reaching outside the topic at hand and probably reaching into some of our Jonathan Fields subjects, where he talks about the buckets of health and relationships and your personal life. And I know for me, things that have helped with this in retrospect, I wasn't doing it consciously in the beginning, at least not for pride purposes, were things like learning Chinese when I found that I was only working on my business the whole time. I considered myself as well-traveled linguist and I hadn't done anything like that just forever. And so I decided to learn Mandarin and that's been kind of a cool source of pride that comes from my own achievement that has nothing to do with the whims of the market or how our monthly sales report looks or our download numbers or anything like that. And it tends to be more within my control.
[00:44:32] And I think also when we see things that we're working on in our life, we can sort of make a map. What kind of person do I want to be? Let me pick up a new hobby. Let me get back in shape. You start to look for the holes that maybe you once felt really proud of your physique, because you were working out every day in high school and playing hockey and you haven't done that for a decade. You might not think I need to get back in shape. You might just be thinking, "Eeh, I don't like my life right now for these vague reasons that are emotional instead of logical." And then suddenly you end up going to the gym and endorphins aside, you start to go, "Oh, I'm feeling like I'm more comfortable in my own skin now because I actually made this happen."
[00:45:09] Do you see levels of self-confidence and self trust and authentic pride translating from one area to another? Say I get back in shape. Do you find in the subjects that you work with? "Oh, now I'm actually feeling better and more empowered in my career because I felt more empowered in this other area, taking control of my health or learning something new." Do you see that translate?
[00:45:30] Jessica Tracy: You know, I can't say empirically that we have the direct causal evidence you're talking about, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that people who dispositionally feel authentic pride and that can come from any domain, do have a greater sense of confidence across domains. Right? That's what it is. If you're prone to this kind of pride, if you tend to feel it, you know, in a trait-like way, it's going to affect all the domains of your life. And so I absolutely think that it makes sense that if you get it in one way or, you know, one place in your life, it's going to play out by allowing you to have better relationships with people in other domains of your life, doing better in your career.
[00:46:01] You know, I love your example of Mandarin. I think that's such a neat example where it's very much about the way that you want to see yourself. It fits with this identity that you have about yourself. You're doing it not because I think, you know, I assume at the time you weren't like, "Oh, well I'm going to China. And so I need to know this," but it's really just, this is who I am, and this is going to make me feel better about myself. And then you get these real consequences where it does have that effect. I think that's fascinating. And I think it's a great example of how this stuff works. And we don't often don't realize that those consequences are going to happen. And then they do.
[00:46:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it actually, it wasn't anything like that. You're right. It was just, well, I learned German and I learned some Spanish and I learned some Serbian, but am I really a linguist? Everybody says that Chinese is the hardest language. Can I do it? Because if I can't or that remains on tests, I'll never really know what level I can attain in this particular field. So learning Mandarin is kind of like, "Oh, I guess I can run in the Olympics, you know, of languages," so to speak. It's not just, "Yeah, back in my day, I was really good at this. And I was on my high school track team." It's kind of like, "Can I get to the top? Can I touch the brass ring of languages, so to speak?" And that's been really fun for me, even though I'm doing it at kind of an amateur level.
[00:47:07] Last but not least though. We interviewed someone named Angela Duckworth. I'm not sure if you're familiar with her work.
[00:47:12] Jessica Tracy: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:47:13] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like there's an intersection of pride and grit somewhere along in your work. Can you tell us about that? Or am I imagining that?
[00:47:22] Jessica Tracy: You're absolutely right. And in fact, in the book, I talk a lot about this. I think in the last chapter I get into this idea of how grit plays into it. So grit, your listeners probably know grit is this sense that some people have that they want to put in the hard work for a goal that typically is kind of a very long-term goal. It's not sort of just, "Well, today, I want to get this done." It's much more like, "Here's my long-term career goal. I want to be this kind of person." And the people who are gritty are the ones who are able to work hard day after day, week after week, year after year, even when the work is tedious and boring. And I think that's one of the most important parts of it. She's found that it's not the gritty people who get excited about new ideas and do all the fun parts. It's that even when the work is not fun, right? There's always times when it's not fun.
[00:48:03] I tell the story in the book of Dean Karnazes, this ultra marathoner, who spends day and night basically running. And he loves it. It's his dream come true. It's allowing him to be the kind of person he wants to be. But there are plenty of hours where he's out there running in pain and agony and it's not fun. And grit is the thing that gets people through those moments that pushes them, even when it's not fun when it's boring and tedious to keep working.
[00:48:24] And I think, you know, I love her work. I think it's fascinating. But the only thing it doesn't tell us is what makes people have grit, what motivates them to put in that work. And that's where I think pride comes in. The desire to feel authentic pride, that drive to feel good about ourselves, that's what makes people gritty. And so I think it's nice because I think it can be harnessed by anyone. You know, some people are more naturally disposed to it, which is why she finds these individual differences where some people have a lot of grit and others don't. But once you know that it's about authentic pride, I think it can be harnessed by almost anyone.
[00:48:54] Jordan Harbinger: Jessica, thank you so much. Of course, the book will be linked up in the show notes. The book is Take Pride that we'll be there. So don't you worry about that? Thank you so much for your time. This has been excellent.
[00:49:03] Jessica Tracy: Great. Well, thanks for having me. You know, it's been a lot of fun to talk, so I appreciate it.
[00:49:08] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that check out episode one 15 with Michael Scott Moore here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:49:16] You're in Somalia trying to track down pirate gangs, and I'd love to kind of hear what this felt like.
[00:49:23] Michael Scott Moore: We went with the big security team and we paid the security team a lot of money. And it was this one portion of a clan in Central Somalia. It was supposed to protect us.
[00:49:34] Jordan Harbinger: So how did they get you?
[00:49:35] Michael Scott Moore: My partner Ashwin flew off to Mogadishu. I drove him to the airport and then we saw him off. He got on the plane safely and then on the way back from the airport. Back into town towards our hotel, there was actually a truck waiting for us. It was a truck with a cannon welded in the back. These are very common trucks that are called Technicals. At first, we thought it was there to watch over us or protect us or something, but actually it stopped our car. And 12 gunmen from the flatbed came over to my side of the car and they actually fired in the air and then opened the door and tore me out of the car.
[00:50:07] They were waiting for me and they were probably waiting or hoping for both. I think they were a little bit disappointed that there was only one journalist. They beat me and they broke my glasses and I was wearing glasses at the time and they had another car waiting and they bundled me into it and off we drove into the bush. For about three hours, something like that, hard to keep track of time, but at some point we stopped. They blindfolded me. And they took me a few steps over to her mattress. So there was a mattress waiting for me in the middle of nowhere. There were other people there, other guards, and other hostages, and I sat down. For the next two years and eight months, I was a hostage.
[00:50:43] Jordan Harbinger: For more on life in captivity, under the thumb of Somali pirates and how he made it out, check out episode 115 with Michael Scott Moore here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:50:55] Fascinating stuff, of course. I think we all know somebody with too much of the wrong kind of pride and maybe that person is us or was us. Knowing how to type these concepts and tell them apart and identify this behavior on ourselves, and of course, in others seems like a very useful skill that I think we can all put to use. I just wish I knew about it when I was 25, although then I would have been too proud to actually. The book is called Take Pride. Special thanks to Jessica Tracy for joining us. Links to everything will, of course, be in the show notes and please use our website links if you buy books from the guests. That stuff does add up and support the show. Worksheets for the episode are in the show notes. Transcripts are also in the show notes. Our YouTube channel is jordanharbinger.com/youtube and jordanharbinger.com/clips. Of course, that's where you find highlights and cuts that don't make it anywhere else. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[00:51:45] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free. Dig the well before you get thirsty. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. And most of the guests you hear on the show, they're in the course, contributing, subscribing. So come around and join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:52:06] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's interested in psychology or maybe needs a little hint, hint about their pride, share this episode with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode of this show. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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