If Greed is Good, Selfishness is Great
“Greed is good,” Gordon Gekko famously croaks to Charlie Sheen’s new-to-the-game stockbroker in Wall Street. It’s one of those shamelessly capitalistic remarks that we still love to quote, reveling in our own ability to sound like the hyped-up ’80s alpha male . There are plenty of qualities held up as virtues in the business world that would be seen as negatives in the real world, but another one that not many people talk about is selfishness.
Selfishness is good. Selfishness benefits you and, ultimately, your company as well. Because someone who is learning and focused on being the best professional version of themselves is precisely the person companies should want. That is the person who will go the extra mile, not because of some outside sense of perceived loyalty, but because they are personally invested. They are selfish.
Because companies are selfish, too. Sure, they want the best for their employees. But they don’t sacrifice for their employees. It isn’t a personal friendship in which one person is willing to take a hit for the other. Or if it is, it will be the employee taking the hit for the company, not vice versa.
I cannot stress this enough. Be selfish. Not in the childish sense of the world, but in the personal growth sense. You are useless to both yourself and your company in a complacent state. Be selfish, and be a sponge. Take advantage of every opportunity offered to you to learn something new, not even because your company wants you to (or in some cases, they may not offer such opportunities – but that’s a different conversation entirely), but because you want to be better. Better at your job? Of course. But hell, you might not like your job. So better for the next job, then. Or better for your side gig, or just generally better for the person you always thought you’d be. Selfishness makes for employees who are hungry, and hungry employees can be counted on to deliver because they care. Whether they care for themselves or for the sake of the company is irrelevant. The point is that they will strive for the best, and that means everyone wins.
So, is greed good? Sure. Gordon Gekko had a valid point. But selfishness, in the long run, may be better.