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Greedy for Success – the Acceptable Face of Greed

In this series of short articles, we’re looking at the Seven Deadly Sins and seeing if it’s possible to re-brand them as ‘The Super 7’. In this new version, qualities that have been castigated and vilified for centuries can be shown to be powerful and beneficial functions of the human condition, and highly advantageous for business. But you don’t have to compromise your values to reap the rewards.


The Second of The Super 7: Greed – the bringer of action

The drive to develop something, get more, increase wealth (financial or otherwise), boost productivity, and improve from generation to generation, is a basic and beneficial human driver.

  1. Without it, we wouldn’t have trains and planes: they save time by getting us to our destination faster and more comfortably, thereby increasing the amount of productive time we have to do work

  2. We wouldn’t have computers which enable us to communicate in real time across the world and access almost limitless data.

  3. We might still be living in caves without any of the mod cons that make our lives so much easier, safer and industrious.

  4. We wouldn’t have made breakthroughs in medicine which have prolonged our life-spans and enabled us to be productive for more of those years

So the driver of greed is hugely beneficial.

Greed’s bad name is derived from the extreme form which is ‘excess’. That is, the acquisition of things beyond the point where they have any real value and no impact on quality or productivity. In fact, you can have too much of a good thing, at which point it becomes a bad thing. So the ‘sin’ here isn’t greed, but failure to realise when you’ve got what you need. The sin is a lack of discipline or self-control.

Wanting more of something, or wanting something else, is an evolutionary necessity. It keeps us one step ahead and builds in protection against obsolescence. It allows us to grow, make the best use of our talents, and create something that adds value to our lives and the lives of others. There’s an argument to say that greed is OK as long as the thirst to acquire and develop isn’t satisfied at the expense of others.

Being greedy for success is a good thing, surely? Once you’ve tasted it, you don’t

want anything else. Being greedy for knowledge and learning is a wonderful human trait. And that desire can take you into uncharted territories where things we have only dreamed of can become reality. So long as the thermostat is set correctly, and greed can be regulated to ensure it doesn’t boil over into excess, it has a justifiable and valuable place in any business.

If you think Greed should be rehabilitated as one of the Super 7, feel free to post a comment below.

And keep coming back to this site to read how it might be possible to welcome back wrath, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

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