• James DeMile

Pride vs ego

A specific answer to some general questions. Pride versus Ego. A question generated from students interested in having a better understanding of their instructor. The definition of each can be very broad and overlapping, so I will give you my view, as related to Martial Arts. Pride is personal, and a private reflection of one’s accomplishments. Ego, is an inflation of Pride and often includes an exaggerated views of one’s self, and the need for outside reinforcement to maintain the elevated image. The difference, for an instructor, is how they teach. The teacher with Pride, believes in their material, and tries to make the student better than they are. The teacher with an Ego, never teaches to bring out the students full potential. Ego needs to be constantly fed, and most teaching efforts are to create followers who sustain and continue the journey of the instructor becoming a “legend in his own mind”. Bruce Lee had both Pride and an Ego. His Pride was confined to the martial arts, his Ego, to Hollywood. His Pride in his martial arts skills, gave him great personal satisfaction. He knew his limitations, yet was very proud of his realistic skills. But, he did live in a world of fantasy, when he saw himself as a super star. Fantasy, because so much of Hollywood is created above mortal means. In films you could leap tall buildings in a single bound and slay the ugly dragon. You can fight 20 opponents and not move a hair on your head. You can run through a hail of bullets and not get scratched, yet shoot 10 assailants with 10 shots. Bruce knew this was fantasy, but, like most other actors, the Ego becomes fueled by the adoring fans, and much of fantasy, becomes reality. However, lets be realistic, I think we would all have a problem separating Pride from Ego, in the same situation. Pride and Ego can both be positive. The term “who motivates the motivator? The motivator motivates the motivator” is a very true statement, for both Pride and Ego. If you do not believe in yourself and your potential, than failure is certain. As a martial artist, Bruce Lee was one of Bruce Lee's biggest admirers. He did not have to wait for anyone to tell him how good he was, he already knew it. It was not a martial arts gene his parents gave him, it was hard work, tenacity, determination and a positive attitude to reach his goals, that gave him Pride when he looked in the mirror. Are you a fan of Bruce Lee who only looks at his movies, pictures or statues in awe, or are you the follower who seeks to springboard past Bruce to realize your own destiny. You can become the motivator, rather than the motivated. Turn Bruce’s teachings and philosophical thoughts into something more than martial arts conversation.

Step back, and look at your instructor, not as an instructor, but a person. They will show you what drives them, Pride or Ego. An instructor with an Ego can still be a good instructor, if they do not limit the students growth. Beware of the instructor who uses too many “I” when they talk or is constantly demonstrating how good they are and/or putting down other styles or instructors.