Disraeli Drawer

Do you have enemies?

You know, those people, who when they cross your mind, set off hours of revenge fantasies?

Here’s how I learned a powerful, non-violent way to deal with enemies, thanks to Charlie Munger and Benjamin Disraeli:

Everyone has enemies:

  • That boss who fired you after you did all his work.
  • That ex who thought you’d never succeed in life.
  • That nemesis from high school who taunted you.

They say success is the best revenge, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Ask anyone who’s gotten to the top – they still have old resentments. And more enemies than ever.

I’ve got enemies too:

  • Kids from school who were racist to me.
  • Investors whose money never showed up.
  • People who spread lies about my family.

I needed a powerful way to deal with these enemies, and I found it in a 1986 speech by Charlie Munger.

In his 1986 commencement speech at Harvard University, Charlie Munger first quotes Johnny Carson’s three “prescriptions for sure misery” in life:

  1. Ingestion of chemicals to alter mood or perception
  2. Envy
  3. Resentment

(I’ll write about #1 and #2 later.)

Munger offers his solution to Resentment, which he calls the Disraeli compromise:

From Charlie Munger’s June 13, 1986 Commencement Speech at Harvard-Westlake School (via Poor Charlie’s Almanack)

It’s so simple!

  1. Write down the names of your enemies on paper. (One piece per enemy.)
  2. Put the pieces of paper in a drawer you rarely use.
  3. Return to the drawer whenever you need an energy boost.
  4. Marvel at how your enemies have destroyed themselves.

And it works!

I’ve been using this strategy for a decade now and the Disraeli drawer is undefeated:

  • That VC? He got sued by one of his partners and lost his fund.
  • That reporter? He got cancelled after the worst in a long line of racist comments.

It almost works too well:

  • I found out that one of the kids who was bad to me in school now has a broken life.
    • Now I pray for him, I hope he will be okay; that the cycle of pain ends with him.

When I saw how my enemies were sick and suffering, my resentments disappeared.

I felt sorry for them.

These people who had hurt my younger self were not a threat to me. They were a threat to themselves.

It taught me that pain begets pain.

The only way to stop the cycle is to let it go.

And the only way for me to let it go is to write it down and let it out.

This is how I learned to deal with my resentments and live a happier life, with a little help from Munger and Disraeli.

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Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is a scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. He is the founder & CEO of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup designing low-cost respirators and ventilators for COVID-19 and beyond. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Labdoor, a consumer watchdog that independently tests and ranks supplements and other health products for its 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has worked with community organizations since 2007 and political campaigns since 2016 to fight for better education and economic opportunities in Michigan.