Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?

Last Updated Feb 26, 2011 1:32 PM EST

Do Nice Guys Really Finish LastNice guys finish last. Popular wisdom, but is it true? Do nice guys really finish last?

In my experience, no, they don't. And I've been around a long time.

I'm not saying that to blow smoke up your butt, motivate you in some way, or even to make you feel good on a Saturday. I didn't work my tail off in the corporate world for decades only to write feel-good fluff. I tell it like it is. And this is how it is:

Selfish jerks who step on others on their way up the corporate ladder may make lots of money, but they ...
  • Still have to live with themselves. On some level, we're all aware of the way we behave. That's why bad behavior is so incessant. It's a vicious cycle of bad behavior, self-awareness, self-hatred, and more bad behavior.
  • Still have to live with others. Nobody's just dysfunctional at work; they're dysfunctional all the time and that usually means a long trail of failed relationships. It's harsh and painful to see our bad behavior reflected in the eyes of friends and loved ones.
  • Are never happy because it's never enough. They may be "successful" by some measures, but at the end of the day, the only true success is happiness. Climbing the corporate ladder and making money are just filler for a hollow place inside.
On the other hand, those who work hard, are honest and genuine, and treat others fairly and with respect ...
  • Tend to be content with what they earn and accomplish. When they look at others who have more, they don't feel jealousy or anger because they don't feel entitled to anything they didn't earn themselves.
  • Have their feet planted firmly on the ground, rooted in reality. They don't have oversized egos and they don't think they're special or unique. As a result, they tend to be happy just to be healthy and in the company of family and friends.
  • Tend to do a better job of planning for the future. They do more with less, live a frugal and reasonable life, and have a more comfortable retirement because they planned for it and didn't take unreasonable risks or expect miracles to happen.
So no, nice guys don't finish last. They may not always make the most money or rise to the highest level on the corporate ladder. But in my experience, they end up happier, and at the finish line, that's really all that matters.

And that, my friends, is what Karma is really all about.
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