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The Fox 5366
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Dog eat dog capitalism

22 June 2013, 17:46
The sad truth about modern business is that if you want to be successful, you have to directly lead to others' failure.

Think about all the glowing success stories you hear about. Your company will praise its departments which grew their revenue, and criticise those which showed a loss.

It makes me think about sport, where we all want our favourite sports team to win, and bay for blood if they lose more than twice in a row.

This principle is arguably present throughout life, but it's hidden in business. When we set out to launch a new product or service, we aren't given pep-talks about putting other people at our competitors out of jobs. When we are hired, we aren't notified how lucky we are in the face of all the other still-jobless applicants.

If you consider that on a national scale we're all just passing the same basket of money around in the country, this isn't surprising at all. Yet somehow Business, which cannot focus on ethics and long-term consequences, ignores this. In Donald Trump's words: "It's not personal, it's just business."

Where all this gets particularly twisted is that businesses will set themselves annual growth targets, and individuals will personally look to improve their bank balances every single year. How can we set goals like that?

If all businesses stayed operational and equally motivated, and nobody was fired, no growth would be possible. Only in the business world could zero growth of that nature be considered a 'bad' thing.

But fear not, merry capitalists, for although you'll hear about people who've gotten retrenched, and you'll drive past businesses which have closed down, you probably won't be personally exposed to that tragedy *touch wood* [in reality, chances are you will: far more low-key failures are required to achieve far fewer stellar successes]

To think that for every company celebrating a killer year there were probably dozens which had to close in order to surrender their potential revenue back into the pot cheapens the overall spirit, doesn't it? And how about senior managers: how many people got fired in order to afford their mega salaries in their new promotion?

If this article is coming across all negative, it's not meant to be. Ultimately, it's just a call to reduce the pressure on ourselves: if your business can meet its overheads, and you can pay off your expenses, well done!

The sad truth, however, is that I see salespeople on the sharp end of capitalism being set these targets required for growth, and where no growth is achieved the salesperson clearly wasn't good enough and gets fired. That can never be right: there always has to be winners and losers, and the sooner you accept that continual growth is only achievable through matched continual failure the sooner you'll be happy to be 'in business' at all.

We don't need to have a positive mindset. We need to prepare ourselves for failure. That's not pessimistic: it's just the cold side of business.

Side note: if you spend all your life applying for a job as a manager and never get there, don't take it as a personal reflection on your skills. It's just a numbers game, and the majority of the population will never get to the middle of the pyramid, never mind the top.
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