Every city worships its unique god. It serves its idol.
In NYC, “How’s your fund performing?” shows the money chase.
In DC, “Going to the correspondents’ dinner?” flaunts proximity to power.
Vegas asks, “Got a hookup for XS?” – it’s all about pleasure.
LA name-drops, “Met Kim K’s manager,” seeking fame.
Which idol are you chasing?
Falling for my own bait and switch
My 15 year career on Wall Street was very much anchored by chasing the money idol.
So many people in NYC chase the “net worth” game.
Bankers, FAANG’ers, lawyers and entrepreneurs.
In their 20s, folks openly discuss their compensation.
And then in their 30s it turns into quiet flexes.
Name dropping your Hampton home, pre-school interviews and NeueHouse memberships.
I got caught up in that game. Until I decided to quit.
But unbeknownst to me, I started chasing another idol.
The four false idols
I first learned about the Four False Idols from Arthur Brooks on the Tim Ferriss Podcast.
What idols all have in common is that they’re God-like, but they’re not God. They’re convenient substitutes for God. That’s all an idol is. There are four substitutes for the real secrets to happiness.
They are money, power, pleasure, and fame.
Brooks continues to describe how we each have “one or two that animate us,” yet this often happens at a subconscious level. And here’s where the danger lies.
The failure to recognize your idol is what “leads you astray and leads you to do the things that you later regret because you were following that idol.”
So back to my Idol switcheroo
When I left finance, I embraced creativity.
I embraced writing, teaching and building an following on social media.
Did I love all these activities?
But I also was chasing a new idol. I was chasing fame.
Not in the Kim Kardashian sense. But in the tiny moments of feeling validated and seen that come from being online 24/7.
And the dopamine of validation feels damn good. (Especially if you start with a leaky bucket.)
Have I ditched fame?
Absolutely not. The dopamine feels good.
But I’m now hyper-aware of when it dictates my decisions.
And the pursuit of fame usually rears its head when I do something that’s misaligned with how I want to live my life.
When the wheels fall off the wagon, I’m more tempted to say yes to a project that is fame-inspired, but makes me feel dead inside. Or I might say yes to a media appearance on a platform that doesn’t share my values.
But noticing the idol acts like a huge speed bump in the process.
It robs it of its power.
So back to the Four False Idols: fame, money, power and pleasure.
Which are you chasing?
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