Ultimately, we are all “in it to win it.” This is true of our personal lives, professional lives, careers, and businesses. If you believe this statement to be untrue of yourself, you are either naïve, lying to yourself (and others) or both.
If you focus on the personal front first, all you need do is ask yourself when was the last time you chose your needs or even wants over those of someone else? Took the last of the treats in the cupboard, parked in a parking space you clearly were not supposed to, didn’t obey the rules because you were late. There are countless instances where we place our own requirements above those of others, we do this almost automatically. Those of us who are more “selfless” (or strive to be) are better at considering others before ourselves, but when it comes down to it…
On a professional level, this detail is even plainer to see. Even the most “selfless” among us would not pass up a promotion, for the greater good of someone else’s wellbeing and that of their family. Of course not, our duty is to our family first, right? Strange how stating it this way, making it a duty, suddenly transforms the lack of selflessness–selfishness–into something more palatable, honorable even.
Not one among us can claim looking after your family first, is in any way deplorable, but if this is true, where do we draw the line as to what is selfish or disdainful ambition, and what is morally decent and proper? I contest that this is a very fine line and that it keeps moving, depending on circumstances. Circumstances global, individual and specific.
Let’s take an easy one: bribery or corruption. Ask anyone if they will pay a bribe in return for benefits of any kind and they will without hesitation reply with a resounding “no.” Yet, bribery and corruption are rife, at all levels of society, meaning someone has to be offering and accepting bribes. The same question would have completely different implications for the individual depending on their circumstances. If it were their last 10k on offer, which in return would revive their business with say 100K. Would offering the bribe still be equally appalling? Or, if offering the 10k meant they could retire and someone else would stand the chance to move up a rung and fill their shoes? How do we feel about it then? What if there were a sick child involved, and the money was all which was needed to recover? Still unacceptable? What if it were your child?
While the moral high road is exceedingly easy to occupy in public, the truth is far more complex and far less clear-cut. The history of the British Secret Service, their many branches, and those of other countries, is yet more proof of this.* I am currently reading a book on the subject. The sheer number of double agents, betrayal, and treachery is astounding. If society was as moral as we all proclaim it to be, how do conditions like this even exist? The answer is a simple one; we are all “in it to win it.”
Being in “it to win it” is neither deplorable nor honorable, it is natural.