4 Faces of Greed: The Everyday Wolves of Wall Street

March 31st, 2014

Greed is sometime amplified and made popular by blockbuster movies such as “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In the film the star, Jordan Belfort, tells the audience “Was this all legal? Absolutely not” in regards to the millions of dollars he had made. Additionally, the movie “Wall Street” (1987) featured Gordon Gecko telling his young protégé “Greed is good.”

The movies may be different but the message is the same. Greed may be good, even great, while you’re compiling your treasures. But ultimately, it is a destructive source. In everyday life we may not experience the Belfort and Gecko levels of greed, but in other, more subversive ways, we do. Oftentimes it is something we may not even categorize as “greed” but by definition it is.

Greed is a practice of gluttony: to take more and more without reservation. It doesn’t matter what the “it” is. Gluttony implies that there’s just never ever going to be “enough.” This kind of behavior is one that can be embodied by anyone. It does not discriminate by race, gender or social standing in life or business.

Now before I share the Four Faces of Greed let me say this: there is nothing wrong with wanting to experience abundance or advance yourself. Not at all. However, an excess of any good thing procured in an inappropriate manner can often turn its head and nip us in the butt.

Do you see yourself?

* The Hoarder – The hoarder stockpiles what they have. They can never find enough stuff to insulate themselves with. It’s not unlike the TV show where people are dug out of their homes with a bulldozer. There’s never enough stuff to satisfy them, to allow them to feel safe and secure in the world. A hoarder at work would be someone who piles up accomplishments, bonuses, physical trophies, or has symbols of their success on display at all times and makes this a big part of their identity. The thrill is more about having all this stuff around them that props them up to show their importance and self-esteem, or false esteem.

* The Sneak – This is the person who sneaks around to get what they want. They are often stealthy in their activity. They take more than they should. Like those who cook the books, falsify documents or reporting for their own gain. Many would say that there aren’t a lot of those around except the ones we’ve seen in the news. So, let me ask you: have you ever hidden something from others on your team or from your superior to make yourself look good? Have you ever minimized facts until you could get the accolades, saving this type of reward all for yourself? Not being truthful or disclosing to others for your own personal gain is sneaky and greedy.

* The Bully – They take something no matter whether they want it or not, just so someone else can’t have it. I liken this form of greed to the playground bully. This is a power play, “You want this?” Whatever “this” is – a promotion, a recognition, a place on a special project – it doesn’t matter. They want it because you want it. It’s sport for them to take something away from another person because “they can.” This is a bully mentality that says “no one should have more than me, no one should feel good about themselves other than me, and YOU certainly cannot have more than me….ever.” You could also call this a form of self-entitlement… which may require its own category of greed!

* The Thrill Seeker. This person acquires stuff for the sheer thrill of it. Not because they feel the need to bully anyone or take from another person. It is purely because they like the thrill of the chase – but once the chase is over they are uninterested in the reward. Some will do this with rank and status in the office, in the real estate they acquire, or even the relationships they have with others. The thrill IS the chase. The mounting stuff is discarded and is rarely ever actually utilized.

If you work with any of these greedy sorts, there’s not much you can do aside from understand the personality that goes along with it. Knowing why and what they will do can help you steer clear of any personal trouble. Your job is not to change anyone. EVER. But knowing what motivates someone, will help you communicate better with them.

If you can identify yourself in any of these 4 faces, reconsider your behavior and your motives. Adjust your perception of what is enough to satisfy you. Shift your behavior from lack to knowing there is more than enough to go around.

Think long terms gains rather than short-term instant gratification and conquest. In other words, don’t be a Jordan Belfort or Gordon Gecko.

Leave a Reply