Several years ago, I was talking with a friend who was thinking of going into the field of investment banking as an intern and then an analyst. His ultimate dream was to become a social entrepreneur bringing millions of people out of poverty, but his college career office, parents, and peer group were convincing him that a high-paying Wall Street job would give him the credibility, skills, capital, and network to change the world (I was skeptical).
He then told me about a really successful and charismatic investment banker who had given a really convincing pitch for why my friend should become an investment banker. One day it clicked for me: “Of course this successful investment banker would make the case for why it’s smart to be an investment banker — he is projecting to validate and protect his ego! Why in the world would he tell someone not to become an investment banker? That would only make him second-guess his use of the last 15 years and face elements of his own self-deception.”
There’s nothing wrong with being an investment banker—some people really enjoy it, and investment banks do valuable work for the economy—but in the case of this investment banker (who projected his experiences onto my friend without weighing any other options or asking my friend what his ultimate goals were), he was projecting. I later heard from another friend that this very investment banker turned out to be incredibly unhappy and couldn’t figure out why. His unhappiness only confirms that his projection indeed came from a place of self-deception…but even if he loved his life, an acknowledgement of difference in contexts would have made his case far more compelling and effective. In any case, my friend did not become an investment banker. If the investment bankers at leastRead +Ted Gonder's post in Medium.