GeneralHr Library

The Devil Loves Your Vanity

Source | LinkedIn : By Ramesh Srinivasan

In the movie The Devil’s Advocate, inimitable Al Pacino is the Devil called John Milton, who heads a firm of lawyers that never ever loses a case. Kevin Lomax (played by Keanu Reeves), a junior in the firm, yells in frustration, “I am a lawyer. I don’t lose. I win! I win!!” The Devil (Pacino) is delighted to hear that, and says, “I rest my case. Vanity is definitely my favourite sin. Kevin, it’s so basic…. (the) Self-love (of humans).” In the film, much greater sins are easily resisted, but men fall for vanity every single time, much to the joy and amusement of the Devil.

At a smartphone showroom, a buyer was loudly complaining about certain features (that he called ‘useless’) and demanding a few features that were not there. With the buyer indulging in his vanity of being a customer, the hapless shop assistant could only offer silence in reply to this tirade. The customer was no fool, and he definitely knows that the showroom did not manufacture that smartphone. He was in love with his knowledge of smartphone features.

In a training course on Engaging and Energizing People, a manager who had just been given the responsibility to manage people had a legitimate doubt on how the organization’s stated values may come in the way of a manager’s style. The trainer tied himself into knots trying to answer that and then, very soon, his vanity kicked in. He dismissed the comments as irrelevant, and moved on. For the rest of the course, the trainer completely ignored this manager by labelling him a ’heckler’. The trainer had the pedestal, and the agenda has been approved by the ‘higher powers’. The vanity of the trainer decides what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ of the context.

Vanity is pride at its minimum, and conceit at its worst.

A couple in our friends’ circle have become the butt of many a joke for their creativity in looking for ways to brag about their latest acts of charity. The details of the suffering in the lives of those they have chosen to help would ring a lot true if they did not juxtapose them with their own cleverness in discovering the ‘needy’. This is a not-so-subtle form of arrogance.

In a symphony orchestra, there is no place for displays of self-importance by the individual players. Everyone has to remain subservient to the symphony being played. Imagine the cello player who wants to be the one who begins the symphony every time only because he is the senior-most musician in the orchestra. You need to know the score, and your part in it. Vanity makes you show yourself when you should not. That makes it easy for the devil to pick you up.

Pulling up people in public, not being able to take harmless humour about your job or your habits, taking umbrage at generalized comments by imagining them to be directed at you, showing disinterest in a meeting after agreeing to be there, giving more importance to your own activities/schedule over those of others, being selective about showing common courtesies, doing things for publicity, comparing the importance given to you versus those given to others…..

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