Chapter 11. Be Second to Your Competitors

There is a common belief that to be successful, you have to be alone—you have to stand out. Is that true? We don't think so.

Former Vanderbilt and UCLA football coach Henry "Red" Sanders is credited with introducing the saying, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," into the American lexicon. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi popularized the mantra in the 1960s as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Jack Welch made sure the business world was aware as well, writing a book entitled Winning (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), and going around offering the theory that "In the end, winning companies are the only thing that sustains societies like ours."[52]

On this point, Business Week wrote in 2006: "Everyone likes to win. Beneath all the talk about teamwork and balance, all the books on being kind and cultivating emotional intelligence, people still crave to be the best. Call it passion, drive. In the world of competition, few battlegrounds are more intense than the one with the self. The hunger to reach the top, regardless of the obstacles that stand in your way, remains a fundamental force in the success—and, at times, the dark side—of the human race."[53] Second place is not acceptable. If you aren't at the head of the pack you are permanently behind. If you don't win, every time, you are a loser all the time.

We have idolized characters like Gordon Gecko, putting the ruthless business tycoon in the 1987 movie Wall Street on a pedestal for ...

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