Fun with the Seven Deadly Sins

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

By the time you finish reading this I am hoping you will see that there can be fun and utility with the Seven Deadly Sins. Up front I will say there is no theological agenda in writing this, as well as no disrespect at any level. 

Most of us have heard of the Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, which have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians regarding people's tendency to sin. The sins have changed over the centuries but currently they are: 

  1. wrath: strong, stern, or fierce anger
  2. greed (avarice): intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food
  3. sloth: reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness
  4. pride (vanity): excessive admiration of one's own appearance or achievements
  5. lust: very strong sexual desire
  6. envy: a feeling of discontent aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck
  7. gluttony: habitual greed or excess in eating

Before I continue I will want to point out that Scientific America MIND dedicated a special issue to The Seven Deadly Sins - Turn temptations into a source of strength (November/December 2013 issue). This magazine focuses on Behaviour, Brain Science and Insights and is affiliated with Scientific America so I think it is fair to say that there is credibility with using the Seven Deadly Sins for insights into business thinking and anything else that strikes your fancy - I thought I would throw this out there for anyone asking themselves, "Where the hell is he going with this?"

Up front I will let you know my deadly sin is Envy... yes the little green monster. I have come to a point where I laugh at it now, as there is nothing that I have to envy in a practical sense  - But I still catch myself.

As I mentioned, I have found great fun and utility with the Seven Deadly Sins and want to share some of them with you. First of all they simply are fun as a conversation starter or even a party game - All you have to do is ask, "What would you say your Deadly Sin is?" More often than not people have heard of them but there is always some clarification as to what they are... I have been playing this game for years and always struggle with remembering the seventh myself. It is in the answers that are both fun and telling; not so much with regards to which sin a person picks but how they go about articulating it. I have had people tell me they don't have any sins. I then just smile and wonder if they are not self actualized enough, even at this playful level, to pick one, or are they so insecure that they do not want to admit a fault. We all have a sin so it's not really the point as to if you have one or not... the point are the specifics and that makes it fun.

So now you have a new party game but lets consider this in a more professional setting - For example as an interview question. Like the party game, I am more interested in whether a person  answers the question with a sin or avoids the one word answer with some justification that they really have no "sins". For me, this is an indicator of self-actualization or reflection and not being confident enough to highlight a personal challenge. With the articulation of a sin, like a perceived weakness, it then allows for the obligatory discussion as to how the person is addressing the weakness. Lets take me for instance... with envy, and I will say up front, it is one of the nastier sins, it has allowed me to strive and stretch harder to overachieve goals as well as learn how to turn my envy into a benign entity instead of something that is destructive.

Ultimately this is why I like the "Seven Deadly Sins Game": In a very simple way, it forces us to look at who we are, our triggers and biases. This can better help us understand ourselves as well as develop checks and balances particularly when we are looking at situations with a critical and objective it individually or with our teams.


PS: Check out the Robin Hood Game.... it is also fun and insightful. Click Here