In the most basic sense, primility is keeping your pride and your humility in balance.
Doing this is a challenge because in many contexts pride and humility are opposing forces.
But it makes more sense when viewed along a spectrum.
The primility spectrum
Here is a crude illustration of the primility spectrum:
On the left side, you have humility and its extreme version, meekness.
On the right side, you have the two kinds of pride. (Hubristic pride could also be described as arrogance.)
And there in the middle is the sweet spot: primility — where your pride and humility come into balance.
In the sweet spot, you are confident in your abilities and your voice, and you are working hard to achieve success so that you can enjoy the fruits that come with it (pride); simultaneously, you are open to learning and listening, respectful of the challenges you’ll encounter, and focused on contributing to a greater good (humility).
Yes, pride and humility can be opposing forces, but there is a sweet spot where they can work in synergy to help you fulfill your potential and achieve meaningful success.
How do you know when you’re in the sweet spot?
And how do you get back to the sweet spot when you’ve drifted out of it? Those are the million dollar questions.
The key, in my experience, is to live an examined life.
By that I mean that you need to be regularly examining your thoughts, actions, and objectives.
I personally do this through journaling. There are other ways.
The medium matters less than the mentality. However you do it, you have to examine yourself with honest self-awareness.
Through that process, you will be able to assess which part of the primility spectrum you are on at any given time in any given context.
Then you simply make your next decision to pull yourself back toward the sweet spot.
How primility works in practice
Here is a quick example for how this can work in practice:
Imagine that you have been tabbed to give a 15-minute speech at an upcoming professional conference.
You examine how you are feeling about this opportunity, and you find that you feel great about it. It’s a subject you know, you’ve spoken on it before, and you’re excited to rework your slide deck for this audience.
In this moment, you’re feeling authentic pride. Great!
But to pull yourself back into the sweet spot, and to prevent yourself from drifting toward hubristic pride, you want your humility to guide your ensuing actions.
These actions might include:
- Assuming you don’t have all the answers — so you research the latest developments in your field to ensure you don’t miss something.
- Focusing on the audience you’re speaking to — so you research who they are how you might tailor your presentation to them.
- Not taking the details for granted — so you proofread your slide deck multiple times to ensure it is buttoned up and not sloppy.
When you combine your authentic pride with this level of humility, you ensure that your presentation will be well-delivered and well-received.
Now let’s rewind and flip it.
Say that when you examined how you’re feeling about the presentation, you recognized that you’re not feeling confident about it.
You really want to help the audience, but you’re worried that you’re not qualified. You wonder what value you have to deliver.
In this moment, you’re feeling humility. Great!
So to pull yourself back into the sweet spot, and to prevent yourself from drifting toward meekness, you want your authentic pride to guide your ensuing actions.
These actions might include:
- Thinking about the reasons why you were invited — you earned the invitation somehow; it might even be worth asking why.
- Focusing on the successes you’ve achieved in your field — these will build your confidence and might provide stories you can include in your presentation.
- Assuming that the audience is there to learn from you — so it’s your job to put in the work to deliver them something of value.
When you combine your humility with authentic pride to help you build your confidence, you ensure that you’ll bring your best self to the presentation.
In summary, this is primility:
- Knowing that your goal is to keep your pride and humility in balance.
- Thinking in terms of the primility spectrum.
- Spending time examining where you stand on the spectrum in any given moment.
- Determining your next action based on which direction you need to move in to get back into the sweet spot.