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What Makes Us Proud

What Makes Us Proud? by Bob Nelson, Ph.D.

Having just enjoyed a long Fourth of July weekend got me thinking about the meaning of the holiday, the signing of our Declaration of Independence from England, and the establishment of a new country based on democratic ideals. It was a grand experiment initiated 245 years ago that still remains strong even through recently challenging times and even with our country currently having a deeply divided populace along political lines.

Charles Cooke in this week’s The Week magazine stated: “Zoom out into space and look back at the Earth. Where, and when, would you live if you had an unfettered choice? In my estimation, there is only one sensible answer to that question: In America, now. There is nothing at all wrong with our bitching and moaning all day about the government or the culture or this or that; indeed, as citizens, that is our right and our responsibility. But it is a great sin to do so absent context, and the reality is that Americans who are alive in 2021 have won the grand prize in the cosmic lottery. To be ungrateful for this would be absurd.”

A recent Gallup World Poll, supports this viewpoint in which 158 million people from other countries indicated that they would love to move to the United States—roughly 15 percent of the world’s population.

What makes us proud of America with all its faults and how can we develop more pride in other parts of our lives, such as where we work and what we do for a living? Wikipedia defines national pride or patriotism as “the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a country and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment to create a feeling of oneness among the people.” I think for any of us, focusing on the positives our country has to offer helps to increase the pride we have in America. We each have freedoms that many other countries do not readily have: Freedom of speech, freedom of choice and individual privacy, freedom to travel all come to mind. Yes, some freedoms get challenged, and often become stronger for that challenge. Contrast that with, for example, North Korea, where I recently read that men are only allowed to have one of 12 officially-approved hairstyles.

We have even more freedoms when it comes to the work we chose to do with our lives, where we choose to live, and the ways we choose to pursue happiness. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word proud as “very happy and pleased because of something you have done, something you own, someone you know or are related to or associated with.”

In recent research I was a part of, professional researcher, Dr. Rick Garlick found that work pride stemmed from a combination of pride in one’s work and pride in one’s company. We’re still analyzing the results, but preliminarily we found that pride in one’s work is largely driven by feeling 1) as though the work you do is extremely important, 2) that you make a uniquely special contribution, and 3) that you can see the direct result of how your work impacts your company and its customers. Pride in one’s company is largely tied to the company’s culture. These are all elements that any company can directly impact and, in so doing, help build the pride its employees have for both their work and for being a part of the company.

But even if your company is not actively helping to make these connections, I believe we each control our outlook in life and what we most choose to focus on. Looking for ways your work positively impacts others is something any of us can do as opposed to focusing on the negatives that exist in your work and workplace. For example, I’ve read that the average employee spends 15 percent of their time at home complaining about their boss. Other than letting off some steam, what good does that do anyone?!

If you start to focus on the positives over the negatives in your life and share those with others, you’ll build better, more positive relationships that will further amplify your pride and outlook on work as well as life. It’s really not that difficult to do and we each have the choice to do it.

About Bob Nelson, Ph.D.

Dr. Bob Nelson is the leading authority on employee recognition and engagement, a multi-million copy best-selling author of books on those topics (eg, 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees, 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees, and his most recent book: Work Made Fun Gets Done! Easy Ways to Boost Energy, Morale, and Results), and president of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego. He has served as an HR Strategist for 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies and is an affiliate partner of WorkProud.

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WorkProud is committed to helping its clients create a unified approach to the employee experience by helping them build cultures of workplace pride. Trusted by millions of users at some of the world’s most recognized employer brands, WorkProud delivers a comprehensive approach to building company cultures that inspire people to be Proud of their Work and Proud of their Company.

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