"Pride in self or pride in one's achievements is not of itself a bad thing. It can be the catalyst to building self-confidence and is always a common feature in one's good health. Too much pride however can lead to an inflated ego and precipitate a big fall to come.
When I was young, my mother used to say to me whenever she was of the view that I was bragging, 'Billy, A proud heart in a poor breast, gives its owner little rest.' At the time, I must confess that I knew not her meaning. Neither would I know that I'd be approaching 50 years of age before her words hit home.
In 1990, I wrote my very first children's book and within a matter of a month it was a huge success in most of the schools in West Yorkshire, selling over 4,000 copies. I am not sure if I was a better publicist and crusader than an author at the time, but very early on in my writing career, I got the idea to invite famous faces and national celebrities to visit Yorkshire schools to read from my books to assemblies of school children.
This idea of mine proved highly successful (probably because I was writing books to raise awareness with school children about certain issues which adversely affected their lives, such as parental divorce, bullying, bereavement, loss, sexism, homelessness, racism etc etc). It also helped to persuade the celebrity readers to accept my invitation, as I gave all profit from my book sales to charitable causes; something which I am proud to say I have always done since and will do in perpetuity.
Because of the huge numbers of famous names who accepted my invitation to read in Yorkshire schools and libraries between 1990 and 2000 (Eight hundred and sixty celebrities from film, screen, stage, sport, church, politics, etc) and the high profile names who publicly endorsed and supported my work (Princess Margaret, Princess Diana, President Nelson Mandela, international film stars like Norman Wisdom, famous authors like Dame Catherine Cookson, Arch Bishops and a number of Prime Ministers and their wives etc), all my book sale-profits enabled me to give over £200,000 to charity. During this ten year heady period of my life I wrote dozens of books, I received a medal from the Queen, I had over 2,000 press articles about my writing and charitable work and was interviewed on either the local television or radio every month.
One decade of constant praise and adulation must have gone to my head without it dawning on me. They do say that there is none more haughty than a common place person raised to power. It is also said that they who are most often at the looking glass frequently spin.
By 2002, I was doing some work in conjunction with the Minister for Education and Youth Culture in Jamaica between thirty two schools in Falmouth, Jamaica and thirty two schools in Yorkshire. I was still high profile in all the local and regional press and occasionally, I made the national press. I was riding the crest of the wave.
One day while visiting my parent's grave in Heckmondwike, I reflected upon the humbleness of my father who actually played international football for Ireland as a man in his twenties and never told his children until I was ten years old; almost eighteen years later. I left my parent's graveside thinking about the difference between my father's natural humbleness and my mounting pride.
The next day I made a decision. I thought about the many daily school assemblies where I had brought famous names to read to the children so that they might feel 'special'. I had to conclude that while the children no doubt felt special to have the press and television cameras at their schools, it was the school staff, the children's parents and myself who really felt 'special' by all the fuss and publicity. It was we who knew the celebrity readers to be stars, not the children! The faces of many huge celebrities were strangers to their world.
From that moment on, I decided to invite no more celebrity readers to promote my books in schools after Michael Parkinson and Richard Whitely had done their readings. I decided to read to the children myself. After all, I'd written the books; I was more familiar with their content and could therefore dramatise the readings and make the stories more animated, which the children infinitely preferred. I also stopped giving interviews to the press and media, and with two exceptions over the past ten years, I have maintained this decision of a press and media embargo.
Over my lifetime, I have found women more expressively open than men. Therefore, haughtiness is harder to hide whenever present in a woman. This trait usually comes across as the high heeled shoe of low standing, whereas pride tends to be more deeply hidden in a man.
Since I discovered too much self pride, I have earnestly tried to become more humble in my behaviour. Humility is a great asset if you have it. For those like me who don't possess it naturally, we have to work hard to be genuinely humble.
Many think falsely that humility is not an admirable quality to hold, but they are so wrong. Humility is not a weak and timid quality in mankind and it should be carefully distinguished from possessing a groveling spirit. There is such a thing as an honest pride and self-respect. Though we may be servants of all, we should be servile to none." William Forde: October 10th, 2015.