As a publisher of sports books that “promote the good,” the old adage “nice guys finish last” is not very comforting. Comments that I’ve seen on the this phrase and its use in literature, movies, etc., suggest that in competitive environments like sports, politics, and business, you have to be obsessed with winning. As much as many of us would like to think otherwise, many of the most successful people were absolutely ruthless on the road to success.
Alfred Noble came from an entrepreneurial family. He was a gifted chemists and inventor. One of the disciplines that he devoted incredible amounts of time and study was explosives. Explosives had also been an interest of his father and his brothers. Alfred Nobel is most known for his invention of dynamite, but it was by no means his only achievement. Dynamite offered a relatively safe use of nitroglycerine which before that time had been unmanageable. Nobel’s father had worked in the production of armaments. Alfred worked obsessively on his chemical work which may have led to success, but also contributed to his lack of success in creating a family. As he grew older, he was surprised that people were viewing his life’s work badly and him as a kind of merchant of death. Explosives were needed at the time to construct tunnels, build roads and railroads. To counter this negative view of the Nobel legacy, he left his fortune to create the Nobel Prize and promote much good.
I think one can safely say that some of our most successful technology leaders today were ruthless on their rise. These leaders certainly could not be looked at as “nice guys” by any means. However, it’s not unusual to see some establish charitable organizations that set out to help those most needy and also help foster a positive legacy.
In sports, there are some coaches and athletes who seemingly would do anything to win. Entirely ruthless suggests people who put aside everything including their morals to succeed. But if Sporting Chance Press would advocate immoral action to achieve victory, our “promoting the good” would not be very accurate.
I think my authors would not suggest sacrificing their principles for success. I think they would say that you can be ruthless to the point of extreme effort, but not beyond the point of “right and reason.”
In our Winning Ways Series, we look at great men who were competitive, but for the most part they focus on the good. Papa Bear and the Chicago Bears’ Winning Ways and Baseball’s Winning Ways have a feature that promotes “habits of virtue.” These books encourage good principles and promote values while giving examples of tremendous sacrifice and efforts.