sinsI blew up today. I mean, I got really mad. People who are unreasonable can do that to me. So can people who are unfair, cruel, dishonest, greedy, intolerant, or relentlessly negative. I suppose those are my seven deadly sins of other people, the qualities I just can’t bear in those I deal with personally or professionally. I won’t bore you with the trivial details, except to say I got threatened with bodily harm, threatened with arrest, and almost run over by a tractor.

While trying to cool down, I compiled my own list of seven personal deadly sins. I’ve resolved at various times in my life to overcome these character flaws, but so far without success. I suspect I’m in good company with many of them. If anyone has any self-improvement ideas for these, please let me know:

  1. Inarticulateness: especially under pressure, and despite all my blogging
  2. Gracelessness: in the social, rather than the physical, sense. Some people just instinctively know how to behave in difficult situations, how to defuse a situation, how to behave with what the British call ‘aplomb’. I am completely plumbless.
  3. Intransigence: not so much stubbornness as just an inability to adapt and accept things I cannot change. I’m way too idealistic for my own good.
  4. Insensitivity: I’m a guy, maybe that’s all I have to say on this. It’s sad but true.
  5. Procrastination: everything last minute, no matter how I try to train myself to leave lots of time for things.
  6. Lack of stick-to-it-iveness: I’m sure there’s a word for this, but I just don’t persevere when the going gets rough. I hate to fight, hate conflict, would rather solve everything peacefully even if there is no peaceful answer. Maybe cowardice.
  7. Discontent: I’m unable to relax. Insomniac. Never really at peace.

I don’t think my personal deadly sins are as bad as the seven I can’t abide in others. But thanks to personal deadly sin #7, that’s small consolation. Anyway, I’m calmed down now.

(Can’t remember where I snatched this remarkable picture from. It was an online gallery of art works, and if I remember correctly the original was for sale. When I find the reference I’ll put it up here.)

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13 Responses to SEVEN DEADLY SINS

  1. Bryan says:

    hmm… only 7 and 3 seem bad. 3 because you say you cannot do something! you should think higher of yourself. 7… uhmm good luck with that one.i made threaded comments on my site if anyone cares to know, some of us were discussing that a few postings ago on here.

  2. Well, and I used to think I had exclusive rights to those 7 sins. Seems I have to share …

  3. quux says:

    Hmmm, great. Just came here after having vented on with regard to some ” Seven Survival Tips for Knowledge Managers” and realize a profile like mine here. So well – some t_h_e_o_r_e_t_i_c_a_l cure ad 1) avoid pressure (see 5.) – use your breathe to take control – this is generally a good thing that from my experience seems to work finead 2) take a different general stance – deaccelaratead 3) question yourself whether it is indeed the type of idealism as describedad 4) perhaps train self-awareness firstad 5) try to make a schedule and cling to it (I continuously fail on that one); work sequentially, not in parallel if at all possiblead 6) perseverance – it is easier if the goals are set in a time frame tuned to avoid conflictsad 7) separate work from sparetime (here I still fail here catastrophically); again – deaccelarate; go for like Tai Chi or whatever lookalike suits youYes, its all trivial and way not original – but I say so. Add value to seemingly trivial things you cannot handle, e.g. it is an achievement if you manage not to run into time pressure.See a coach if you not already do so (the bias is that you do – if so, change the strategy)Beware of getting workaholic and prevent burnout.Yes, it is all theory — grim grin.CC.

  4. mark says:

    Mmm, I can help with one of these, gracelessness… I have been able to overcome that. I realized that it arose from my need to see myself as superior to others – not only to see it, but to project it. I think it can be solved by seeing others as their own unique being, their own little planet in their own little orbit. Not that it’s a planet you necessarily want to visit, but it does have a right to exist. And I’ve gotten in the habit of asking myself, before saying something negative, ‘What purpose does it serve’.Of course, that’s only one of about a thousand negative personality traits I’ve resolved.

  5. Steve says:

    I recommend Rush Dozier Jr.’s “Why We Hate” book. I’ve found I’m far less likely to get angry after reading the insights in it.

  6. David Jones says:

    I have to add “aceptance” to the things that make me boil. And by that I mean acceptance as stated in that horrid prayer about “things I can change, things I can’t and wisdom to know the difference.” I meet so many people who are really, really unhappy about something and are in total denial about the importance of expressing concerns personally, by mail or by a phone call. A minimum of Canadians ever write their MLA or MP. Most complainers do their carping to radio talk-back shows – which is about as useful as saving snow in a furnace.

  7. Jon Husband says:

    I like David J’s comments. While I agree wholeheartedly with Dave Pollard’s dislike of unrelentibg negativism, I also find myself wondering quite often why there seems to be such a taboo against pointing out that things don’t always seem to be “going great”, and that maybe, just maybe the systems in which we live need some deep looking at. At the end of the(judgment ;-) day, I’ll bet there’ll be a wholesale realization that the planet is first and foremost a human and natural system, not a first-and-foremost economic system.I think people (esp. consultants, of which I am one) go to incredible – and devious -lengths to be accepted, focus on “solving problems”, and appear as if they are challenging and confronting the conventional wisdom, the status quo, while not really doing anything of the kind. I think blogs are popular ’cause they’ra about the only place left, except for your own bedside journal, where you can say what you really think/feel – everywhere else is subject to “the market” and the niche you can create or find. I cry sometimes for our society – debate is getting ridiculous – Janeane Garofalo guest-hosting CNN’s CrossFire so that the electronic version of the Forum’s gusets can watch her and Tucker carlson insult each other – it’s WWF with clothes on – while real dialogue is pushed into little cafes in houses, where earnest and concerned people can console each other that they may be doing something. The only show I enjoy watching is Charlie Rose, and I was suroprised by him as well, when he had paiul Wolfowitz on recently and didn’t test him at all.Canadians – ever-polite and ever-accepting, and as long as the loony stays down, able to continue as we have been since the US is next door.

  8. Dick says:

    If you get any hot tips concerning the eradication – or at best moderation – of your list of 7, let me know, Dave. They’re all mine too…Dick

  9. Dave Pollard says:

    Bryan: Interesting website you have there — like the threading of comments blended right into the body of the blog. As for your advice — most people would say I think plenty highly of myself already. ;-)Markus: You’re actually welcome to have them all to yourself, if I could find a way to get them to stop sticking to me. BTW, how do you get the text to change on your website by merely passing the cursor over a hotspot instead of clicking, and does it affect the number of hits, or is it actually all one ‘page’ and the cursor merely ‘unhides’ one particular section?Quux: Great advice, except that I’ve already tried it all, and because of #6, haven’t stuck to it, even though I know it works. It just isn’t ‘me’.

  10. Dave Pollard says:

    Mark: That would work if we weren’t actually superior to most people ;-) I love the fact that your spam-mocking contest has attracted entries so realistic that you’re mistaking the satire for the real thing!Steve: Hey, a self-help book that makes sense and doesn’t just state the obvious — thanks for the reference and to the precis of the book on your site. It’s great advice. I’m pleased to say that part of my problem is I get angry so rarely (a half a dozen times max in the last decade) that I get out of practice dealing with it, and hence tend to overreact more. I’ll definitely check this book out.David: You’re right — there’s a big difference between ‘acceptance’ (being too lazy or resigned to challenge something wrong) and ‘acceptance’ (acknowledging that there is really nothing that can be done, or need be done, to deal with an annoying situation). I’m in the midst of a fight with my MPP (who happens to be the premier) that others think I can’t win, but is so important that I won’t accept defeat. At the same time, the ‘tractor’ issue I was blogging about is one that I have to confess has no satisfactory resolution — I’ve logically (if somewhat passionately) analyzed and proffered all possible compromises and all have been rejected, so there is no recourse left but to accept that I did my best and the individual concerned is just an asshole.

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Jon: Very good point, and I confess that sometimes lack of imagination, and lack of courage, have us putting up with situations we shouldn’t and needn’t tolerate. And don’t give up on Charley — he doesn’t have carte blanche and sometimes there are compromises just to get an interview at all, and for every weak interview he has a dozen strong ones.Dick: The book Steve mentions (his site has an extensive summary of it) might help with #1, #3, #4 and #7 by dealing with one of the underlying causes (tendency to fly off the handle) of all four of them. I think if there were true silver bullets for any of these they’d have been found and publicized by now.

  12. Camilo says:

    And why is that it was your sin when you were the one threatened? Perhaps you were inexperienced in dealing with this particular kind of situation, but now you know what you need to learn. And you can learn things, can you?

  13. Dave Pollard says:

    Yeah, Camilo, I can and do still learn. But you’d think that with more learning and more understanding would come more patience, and with me, alas, it seems to be the opposite.

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