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Sloth – The Bringer of Peace?

In this series of blogs, we’re trying to rebrand the Seven Deadly Sins as The Super 7. Our contention is that on the whole they are neither sinful nor very deadly and that far from being something to steer well clear of, we should learn to embrace them a little more kindly. We think it’s worth having a fresh look at them

In so doing, we think we can spot some benefits that will help your business flourish whilst protecting the interests and welfare of your employees.

We continue our journey with Sloth.

The Third of The Super 7: Sloth – the bringer of peace!


Step forward Sloth and take a bow. 

Take your time, nice and slow.

There is no rush, no need for speed,

It’s time to think that we all need.

We are constantly going on about work-life balance. It’s a strange notion because it implies that working is not a legitimate or enjoyable and integral part of living. The inevitable conclusion is that you can have a life and you can have work but not at the same time! So presumably work = death?

I think the reason why the notion of work/life balance has taken such a hold is because we work too hard.

That doesn’t mean we work smart, by the way. We simply work too hard, for too long and at a frenetic pace, often in jobs we loathe and despise or, if we’re lucky, only derive moderate pleasure from.

We seem to have lost the capacity to deeply relax, pace ourselves, and keep ourselves in a state of equilibrium. Relaxation time (usually defined by anything that’s away from work) is a small window through which we dive, bingeing heavily on pleasure as quickly as we can before returning to the treadmill of work. Our lives are lived at a desperate pace, where we try to squeeze in far more jam than is humanly possible into the tiniest jar.

This is personally and professionally damaging. Performance suffers and health suffers. Burnout in some form or other is inevitable, even for the most robust.

Stephen Covey’s seventh Habit, Sharpen the Saw, recognises that human beings have a profound need for balance, recovery and re-calibration  Rest, relaxation, a change of pace and time to reflect are vital requirements that we cannot live without. But this is often talked about as something that needs to happen away from the workplace.

Too many work cultures frown on the idea that someone can sit quietly at their desk just thinking. They call it out as ‘slacking’ or ‘not pulling your weight’. They don’t like it because you don’t look like you’re working hard enough: the focus in not on business, but on apparent busy-ness.

I say, let’s bring on a bit of sloth! Let’s stop or slow down for a while. Let’s not be

afraid to sit at our desk and stare into space, or take a leisurely stroll across company grounds. Let’s stop thinking that the only productive person is the person who’s racing around at 150 miles per hour weaving a trail of turbulence around them.

We know that longer hours do not contribute to better performance or higher productivity. The law of diminishing returns explains how performance decreases the longer someone works without a break. So being the last to leave the office and doing 12 or 14 hour days doesn’t mean that you are the highest achiever, but it could mean that you are the biggest loser.

Sloth is, according to Wikipedia, defined as “spiritual or emotional apathy… and being physically and emotionally inactive”. Not too far away from meditation, then. Sometimes, we need to shut-down in order to reboot. Doing so gets rid of the glitches and enables us to process information and ideas more quickly. It also gives us space to recalibrate, which enables us to look afresh at a situation where our judgement was previously clouded.

A little dose of sloth can also help to take the heat out a situation which is getting out of hand. There can’t be a war with two slothful parties!

As with our other friends in The 7, too much sloth is as bad as too much of the other extreme. So maybe it’s less about work-life balance and more about a balanced LIFE, where Sloth feels able to take its rightful place at the table, and at your office desk. Don’t knock it until you try a little bit of it.


Please comment if you think Sloth should be rehabilitated as one of the Super 7.

And keep coming back to this site to read how it might be possible to welcome back wrath, greed, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

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