7 Career Sins….Revealed

7 Career Sins….Revealed

If you grew up watching Star Movies in the 90s and early 2000s, chances are you would have seen the classic, intensely dark psychological thriller SEVEN. Seven (stylized as SE7EN) is a 1995 American crime thriller film directed by David Fincher starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey and John C. McGinley. The film tells the story of David Mills (Pitt), a detective who partners with the retiring William Somerset (Freeman) to track down a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as a motif in his murders.

I remember feeling edge-of-the-seat horror and shock each time one of the sins was revealed, leading upto the devastating end. The superlative acting and the dark style made the movie a huge success both with the critics and the masses. Anyway, the story and the theme of the seven sins – Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Jealousy and Wrath, left an indelible impression on me. 

So, twenty five years later, here I am reminded of the seven sins, through my conversations as a career coach. We are all guilty of one or the other career sins, some time in our working lives – here’s a quick analogy of the 7 sins related to careers in today’s times. 

Gluttony – this is the equivalent of ‘I want it all and I want it now’ from my career – money, prestige, high-powered luncheons and globe-trotting, exciting projects, rapid growth, great bosses and colleagues, a culture where I fit in, and the list goes on….usually those guilty of this sin, have bitten off more than their systems can responsibly digest or they experience a wide gap between their expectations and reality, leading to literal and figurative heartburn. 

Greed – shows up as very short-term focus in one’s career. For instance, I have come across people who are hardly 6 months into a new role and they are already dazzled by the prospect of a fatter paycheck and a snazzier office at another company. 

Sloththis one is far too common, where like the ostrich who buried it’s head in the sand, there is little initiative taken to learn and look outside to know what’s happening; rather such people are waiting for career magic to happen to them. 

Lust- looking a bit like gluttony, lust is mostly about a powerful, intense desire for something in particular, maybe wealth or power or even impact, and being in the grip of that desire. All of us crave one or the other thing from the work we do, but literally lusting after that one thing alone, can throw our lives off kilter. 

Prideamong those afflicted by this sin, is a feeling of smugness and complacency that there’s little that can upset their career ‘gravy train’. The pride may be the result of heavyweight credentials such as one’s educational qualifications, top-notch brand names associated with and prior accomplishments. In any case, these are people who have a chip on their shoulder. 

The 7 deadly career sins

Jealousythis manifests at taking career decisions, or basing one’s idea of career success on what others have/do, with little thought about who we are authentically and what our own abilities, values and motivations are. The desire to keep up with the Joneses puts constant pressure on the decisions of those suffering from career envy. 

Wraththe last sin, is akin to the arrogance and even vengefulness shown by some in positions of power over those who are weaker in the system. Even if there is just cause, actions taken at work, motivated by wrath or anger, create fear and toxicity 

As I said before, most of us are guilty of some career sin or the other to some degree.  And very often, we realise these through hard knocks and disappointments over the course of our working lives. As with every psychological thriller, there is a back story to the psychology of the anti-hero. So also, we need to accept that being inclined towards a particular kind of career sin, is because of codes/behaviours that we imbibed at an impressionable stage and undoing and unlearning some of these is important for us to create sustainable careers for ourselves. Working with a coach or mentor can help us identify and overcome these. 

And finally, if you haven’t watched Seven, grab your favourite snack and tune into it on Netflix. 

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KAVITA NEELAKANTAN

Kavita, an alumna of IIM Ahmedabad, brings over 16 years of experience in the domains of Experiential Learning, Adult Learning, Personal Growth & Change and Organization Development.

Kavita has completed her internship in Applied Behavioural Sciences from the Sumedhas Academy for Human Context http://sumedhas.org. She has worked with leading Indian and international companies including Johnson & Johnson India Ltd, Xseed Education, Goldman Sachs and Usha International Ltd. As a facilitator and coach, Kavita brings sharp insights along with a deeply supportive and empathetic style. She has worked with clients across domains, including IT, higher education, social entrepreneurship, development sector and healthcare.

Kavita’s forte is Transition coaching and facilitation. Her work around Transitions is influenced deeply by developmental and social psychologists (such as Robert Kegan, Jean Piaget,  Clare Graves, Suzanne Cook-Greuter etc) and looks at how individuals and collectives (such as organizations) go through stages of development, with associated behaviours, perspectives and challenges.
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