Is Dignity an Obstacle to Success?


Sometimes life requires that we take jobs below our station until we learn skills, offer apologies even when we are wronged, suck-up to power when necessary, work long hours when we “deserve” some rest, risk embarrassment in front of witnesses, risk failure and humiliation, and get rejected by the people we hope to love. In that sort of game, the player unburdened with human dignity usually wins.

  1 comment for “Is Dignity an Obstacle to Success?

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    28 May 2015 at 4:07 am

    Insecurities at the top frequently require boot-lickers at the bottom to affirm the former’s status. Conversely, there have always been those ambitious souls willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. When the two meet, the reinforcing circle is as likely to be a recipe for disaster as for success.

    As Richard Nixon’s former council John Dean famously pointed out, Blind Ambition can produce some truly interesting outcomes for everyone involved. After all, the Watergate president was reelected – howbeit at considerable cost to All the President’s Men as well as to the president!

    Likewise, one could argue with equal persuasion that psychopathy enables ambition. After all, it too dispenses with ancillary burdens likely to interfere with getting ahead. So does the convenience of a narcissistic personality disorder.

    An equally applicable self-serving philosophy is: “Kiss up; kick down.”

    In the end, the relative definitions of dignity and success are sufficiently fluid to have shape-shifting qualities. If these are stretched far enough, even failure can become success in carefully worded propaganda.

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