Pride goes before a fall

“It is virtually unsinkable…”

“It is completely unhackable…”

Both of these quotes were spoken by people who thought they knew what they were talking about. Both of these quotes proved to be unfounded and left the speakers with more than just ‘egg on their faces’.

When the Titanic sunk on Apr 15, 1912 it sent shock waves around the world – confidence in the Industrial Age was forever shaken. When the Australian Census was hacked on Aug 9, 2016 everyone in Australia wondered how such a blunder could have been allowed to unfold.

It will be interesting to see, in years to come, how this year’s statistics match up and whether many people will simply not bother to lodge their census at all.

The truth is that things do not always go as planned and sometimes they can take a significant turn for the worse.

Last weekend I spent a day digging a trench to fix a plumbing problem at home. I knew that it would be a challenging task but I confidently stated that I would be able to “do it in a day” – I joined the designer of the Titanic and the head of the ABS both in hubris and error.

The trench was not particularly deep but it was 40 metres long – interestingly 39 meters were dug in about 8 hours but the first metre took almost 9 hours to complete – I knew that it would be hard but I didn’t know that it would be that hard… When we finally broke through the first metre, we had to call it a day and the task was mostly still undone… The second ‘day’s’ work went without a hitch and the task was completed but it certainly made me think about the similarity of sinking ships, crashing websites and trenches that refuse to be dug.

The similarity is over-confidence and pride in something we think we control. We all suffer from these maladies in different measure – some just speak louder than others and it is when you raise your voice and draw attention to yourself that it really becomes a problem.

The Bible says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov 16:18)

Perhaps this is an appropriate time to check ourselves and what we think we are capable of. Pride is not attractive, it forces people away and sets us up for failures.

Maybe your success would be more successful if it was tinged with a little humility?


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