Monday, October 10, 2011

When is enough, enough?

When you're already a tycoon the acquisition of additional assets is a mere intellectual challenge in a game where winners are measured objectively in the form of dollar value.

The problem arises when in chasing for superlative success in this game the tycoon's normally excellent judgment is clouded by the hunger to beat out the competition and grab the trophy.

And, suddenly, unwittingly(?), the line is crossed.

In the test of character, it is a fail.

In the measure of success, it is still a win because the desperate moves that crossed the line from being competitive and skillful to one who is felt to use underhand tactics that crosses the legal line, still results in the increase of net worth in dollar terms.

Sadly, in ethical and moral terms it means bankruptcy.

Which is to be treasured? High net worth in dollar terms? Or, high regard and a sterling reputation to take to the grave?

Which is better? The ignominy of being the richest S.O.B. who ever lived? Or, to be the greatest pillar of integrity that is held up forever as the ultimate role model of business leadership?

These are questions that should haunt those of us who have any pretension of ambition.

1 comment:

walla said...

Perhaps it's about balancing between two approaches - rules of the game, or game of rules?

If we put rules above game, then we will be impelled to follow the rules even to the extent of self-sentencing to losses.

If we put the game above rules, then business becomes the art of navigating around rules whereupon deceit may result from deception from breaking rules.

So the final arbitrator is how one reads rules against a changing business circumstance.

Some may suggest this means one must be nimble. But if being nimble at the start means breaking ethical rules of business, then precedent so set will weaken the will to resist doing it again.

That will lead to dirty profits soiling business reputation and future ability to bring progress that all can be proud of; that's because society depends on trust and ethics to protect it from destroying itself, for all trade whether of goods or services ultimately depends on trust. Even irrevocable letters of credit and reinsurance instruments depend on trust in the bank and the broker.

Which thus comes back to the question:

"when is enough, enough?"

Of course the only answer to that question is:

"when enough is enough."

which, incidentally, was the battlecry of the last general elections, if one may digress, but for a fleeting, indulgent moment.

In summary, all becomes clear when it finally dawns that the very factors of success are exactly those of failure, the journey is the real destination, and now is wow.

After all, how can one possibly win any game of "i win when u lose" when everyone exits with as much as he enters? That is, zilch.