Anyone who has gone through the grueling training necessary to become any kind of SOF justifiably has pride in what he has accomplished. Many of these selection and training courses have up to 50% or higher attrition rates, and for good reason. Earning that Recon Jack, Ranger Scroll, Green Beret, or Trident is a hell of an accomplishment.
But there comes a point where that pride threatens to become arrogance. I’ve written earlier about the importance of humility for the operator. That piece was largely concerned with one’s peers in the chosen career field. But hand-in-hand with that lesson is that while you might be better at your particular profession than some of the others around you, it doesn’t necessarily make you a fundamentally better man.
Some of the best leaders taught that you don’t look down on the support guys. Make friends with them, because when you’re tearing your hair out trying to get ready for a mission, they can make life easier for you. Besides, for all you know, that guy stuck in the S-3 might just pick up with the next BRC class and be in a team with you next deployment.
Professional pride is quiet. It is the flip side of humility. It is the recognition of what you have accomplished and what you are capable of. It does not require everyone’s acclaim. It has nothing to prove except to the one who holds it.
Arrogance is noisy. It is puffed-up chest-thumping that looks down on anyone around it. “You haven’t gone to (x) school? You suck! Get behind me and bask in my awesomeness!” It serves no purpose except to inflate the arrogant man’s ego. Ego is a liar. Ego kills in combat. Some of the biggest talkers in the rear crumble when the rounds start snapping.
Taking professional pride in your work is fine. But every operator has to have the self-awareness to keep it from becoming arrogance.