Luxuria - First of Seven Deadly Sins

Early Christians used these seven major human vices to educate followers about the human trend to always default to sin. The list was published in Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy in the 1300's, and was also used in the same order previously by Pope Gregory the Great in the 500's. The order they were listed was: Luxuria, Gula, Avaritia, Acedia, Ira, Invidia, and Superbia - in Latin. In English they are Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. One interesting thing about these 'deadly sins' is that they all relate to things that all human beings need to do - it is the proportion they are made that makes them sins.

And the first one is Luxuria, or Lust. Although it may come to mind the most common meaning, the extreme sexual desire or craving, it also means metaphorically "lust for power" or lust for other things such as success or recognition. It is an inappropriate, overwhelming desire or craving for something. It is completely normal to want to be successful and recognized, but as with everything, an excessive energy applied toward this as the only goal in life may lead to wrong behaviors. In Corporate America today - as well as in almost any business in the western civilization - there are many examples of people doing the wrong things driven by this sin.

I believe we have all seen this kind of behavior in business. People forget basic rules of living in the workplace because of this excessive interest in becoming powerful, or to reach success at any cost, or to get that "recognition" that will boost their performance review. Nothing wrong with being successful and recognized, but doesn't it matter how you get there? One has to look for having the correct focus, and sometimes people worry too much in making "the numbers" look right and forget of the main things, which are our people, our customers and the health of our business. It is the lust for power that makes natural, small divergences turn into huge dysfunctional conflicts that disrupt businesses. It is the lust for success that ultimately leads good people to failure. And it is the lust for recognition that causes careers to take wrong directions and remain in the limbo for years.

This is serious material for thought. How this "sin" relates to one's day to day life? How can someone not let the natural desire to succeed transform in Luxuria and ultimately work against goals? Alchemist Parecelsus wrote that everything is poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose allows something not to be poisonous (from the German phrase attributed to him: "Alle Ding' sind Gift und nichts ohn' Gift; allein die Dosis macht, dass ein Ding kein Gift ist") .