This quote from Franklin’s autobiography (1771) shows the dangers of pride. That’s why the Independent Spirit gets so many officers in trouble.

When I was presenting the Dynamic of Authority at a National Sheriff’s Association Conference a few years back, I had said that our ego (pride) can be one of our worst enemies in a crisis and set us on that most dangerous Path of Destruction. One of the sheriffs in the audience challenged me on this. He said he considered his ego as his most valuable weapon when on the street. When I tried to explain that pride and ego can get in the way of accomplishing the police mission, and that although we represent any number of authorities, the one thing we do not “officially” represent is ourselves, he got up, gathered his things and left the room.

It can be a difficult teaching to accept because it goes against our human nature to a degree. I’m glad that our Founders, like Ben Franklin, were able to put their egos aside as they built the greatest nation on the planet.

About the Author

4 Responses to “In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself.” — Benjamin Franklin

  1. Pride is a stumbling block for proper leadership. Pride prevents a supervisor from learning from mistakes. It also cripples the supervisor because it prevents them from feeling at ease to ask subordinates their opinions. I have worked in law enforcement for approximately 28 years and I have found that you have to lose the pride and be more focused on accomplishing the mission to the community.

    • Capt:

      Well said. That was exactly the message I was hoping to communicate to that Sheriff who walked out of my class. In a moment of crisis, when the pressure is on, our ego can be our worst enemy.

      A good example is when we ask someone to comply with a lawful order, such as “Let me see your driver’s license.” When confronted with that one word challenge to authority, “Why?”, most officers respond with, “Because I said so, that’s why!” What an amateurish approach! That doesn’t even work at home. Why would we expect it to work on the street? All it does is set the officer up for an ego battle.

      The professional has learned to put his ego aside and appeal to a higher authority. The proper response is not “Because I said so, that’s why!” The professional response is something like, “Because the law says so…” This officer placed his ego aside, because as you said it is a stumbling block, and appealed to one of the authorities he represents – in this case the law.

      Thank you for your insightful comments and keep your eye on the blog. I will be posting more training segments soon and would love to have your input.

      Sheriff Ray

  2. Earl Worsham says:

    I would just like to take this oppurtunity to personally endorse Sheriff Nash, and the incredible work that he is doing. I met him when he was Chief of the Summerville,South Carolina Police Department. I had the good fortune of serving as a police officer in his command. I have known him for over twenty years and there is no individual in the law enforcement profession I hold in higher esteem. I have observed him over the years to be of great character and integrity. As my Chief he refused to settle for any less in his subordinates. As Sheriff of Dorchester County, South Carolina he was well known for his character expectations of his deputys. I find that so honorable, and I wish I had followed him as many others did. It has been deep regret for me.I know there are many officers who have served under him that I am certain still hold his principles in their hearts. I have seen him consistently make the proper decisions in his dealings with all individuals. In my relationship with him he has always been willing to support me and offer me direction. Thank you sir. I would encourage anyone to follow his teachings and am a witness to the impact it will have on your life and law enforcement career.

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Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

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Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

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[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
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Cincinnati Police Div.

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Chickasha, OK

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Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
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City Manager
Owasso, OK

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Tarrant County, TX

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Willard, MO

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Grand County, CO

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Cleveland County, OK

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Indiana State Police