When I started working right after finishing my college, I had simple needs. I wanted to learn, become a better person while earning modestly enough to cover my needs. By the time three years passed, I was deep in the race and barely going home in time to have dinner with my family.
After successive failures, I began freelancing. Those were exciting days – finding the leads and converting them in real money. Before I knew it, my focus shifted from being more with the family to ending projects on time. I could have taken it slow, but didn’t want to lose the momentum. I was going to client meetings in the days, working on laptop till late evenings – all to reach a position where I was comfortable. Then late evening work habits stretched into nights. By my fifth year as a freelancer, I was on my desk nearly every night. My greed wasn’t money, but to finish more and more projects. I loved it. But in the process, I sacrificed my health. I could have sworn I wasn’t greedy, because I accepted lot of pro bono work. But the truth is, I was —I liked when people recognised my skills and appreciated my work.
And that’s when I realized – greediness doesn’t just mean more money. It was be about everything –fame, fortune and ambition. I was greedy. Wanted more and more of something, and focuses single-mindedly on getting it.
Now when I look back, I understand the symptoms. They may not be same for everyone, but somewhere, somehow, they start making their way.
Symptoms of Greed
- Hurry…there is always urgency: When you feel that the thing you are chasing isn’t getting acquired fast enough, know that greed is working you. It runs down your patience, and forces you to take shortcuts. Consider binge buying on credit cards for example. Who’s seen tomorrow, right? So you get everything today. That’s a shortcut right there, sitting in your wallet as a plastic card, inviting you take the plunge.
- Choosing to compromise: Have you ever been in a position where you had to do/decide something, and you took the easiest way out? Like when your boss asked you about delay in a project, you conveniently shifted the blame on a co-worker? Or while narrating an incident, you portrayed yourself as the champion without acknowledging the efforts of others? Does greed for recognition makes you contemplate a compromise on your personal values? If it does, realize that greed is overtaking you and you are letting go of your innate values for a short term goal. Whenever you find yourself in a position of self-praise, take a step back. Become aware of it and reverse your actions before it becomes too late.
- Making everything about yourself: Choosing to do everything for yourself first – eating first, crossing that red light first, taking your car out from the parking lot first, jumping the queue to get your billing first. There are millions of ways you jump, leading to turbulence that warns that greediness in the form of self-importance is sneaking in, taking the shape of impatience. Living in twenty first century has made us technology-obsessed hyper individuals who seem to want everything yesterday. So when it comes to giving space to others, we just don’t have enough time for it.
- Taking becomes natural: From parents, companies, friends, neighbours – someone called you for a party, and you fill your stomach beyond the fullest. Invitation for a wedding reception and you make sure to eat worth the cost of the gift. Accepting presents on Diwali, New Year because your position entitles you to. That’s greed making its subtle entry.
Greed can infect in many ways. It can distort your vision of life, alter your goals, or twist your relationships with business partners, colleagues, spouse, or children. It’s a trap, and when you let your guard down once, it gets difficult to stop.
Think about it.
Generosity isn’t a bad way to live. In all the times and all the situations, you have a chance to be generous – not just when it suits you – because the heart that gives, gathers.