I was having a crappy day. It was one of those days when I felt like everyone wanted a piece of me. I was being confronted with disingenuous people, ungrateful people, and people who did nothing wrong, but nevertheless irritated me beyond all reason. I felt my anger building, so I made my smartest decision of the day and left.Vamoose. Outta here. See ya.
When I calmed down enough to return, the universe intervened. It made me feel small and petty because… well, I was being small and petty. Me, me, me. Small and petty me.
First, I opened the mail. I opened a handwritten card from the perennially upbeat, Mark Matteson. He wrote three things he liked about me, or some claptrap like that. Mark’s always doing nice stuff like that. Not in the mood for a complement, I snorted.
Next, I opened an email from Joe Holly. If there’s one guy who’s more optimistic than Mark Matteson and more likely to see the best in everyone he meets, the person is Joe Holly. Joe had just come to Dallas for a Dave Yoho seminar, got me an invitation, and we ate dinner the night before. Joe wanted to thank me “for a fine day of friendship and camaraderie.” Yeah, I had to admit. It was.
Finally, I watched a video selfie from perennially upbeat Chris Hunter who was speaking to his team but I felt like he was speaking to me when he said, “The world is full of people who are griping. They are always looking for the negative.” He quoted Romans 12:2 about changing the way you think.
Aw, gee whiz. Hit me with a two by four. Here are three people who have made a positive impact on my life and they’re teaming up without conspiring to beat me with a two by four.
Baseball Hall of Famer, Leo Durocher is attributed with saying, “Nice guys finish last.” He couldn’t be more wrong. Mark, Joe, and Chris are all nice guys, still running in their own races, and are all going to take first place.
So What About the Jerks Who Win?
If nice guys do not finish last, then why does it seem like jerks succeed? I can think of a lot people who seem to do really well and are hardly nice guys. What about them?
Maybe they’re like the King of Epirus. This is a guy who was made king at age 12. Nice. Most of us just think we’re royalty at that age. He really was.
The King of Epirus lost his kingdom in an uprising, probably because he was a jerk. He teamed up with the King of Macedonia to fight the Egyptians. Bad choice. The Macedonians didn’t win and the King of Epirus got sent to Egypt as a hostage. While he was a hostage, he buddied up to the right people and got his kingdom restored. Unfortunately, he had to share power with a relative. He didn’t like sharing power so he had his relative assassinated. What a jerk.
The King of Epirus proved himself to be a jerk on many occasions. He married for gain, not love. He turned on his biggest ally.
Then, he decided to take on ancient Rome. People probably thought the jerk was going to get his now. Somehow, he won. But he didn’t. The great Roman historian, Plutarch (and you thought he was just a character in “The Hunger Games”) said the king, “replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.”
In other words, his victory was hollow. He ran out of friends and supporters. There was no one else. He was alone. The cost negated the victory of King Pyrrhus of Epirus. To this day, we call hollow victories Pyrrhic victories.
Jerks may appear to win, but if we had a Plutarch to record the rest of their story we would see the price they pay in terms of marriage, family relationships, friends, and self-recognition. Usually, when we know the whole story, we conclude that their victories are not worth it. They are Pyrrhic.
Cutting to the Chase
Have you ever hung around someone with a foul mouth? If you are not careful, before you know it you are dropping F-bombs in casual conversation. Instead of lifting your language the foul mouthed friend pulls it down. Hanging around with jerks is the same. Before long, you start acting like a jerk, threatening others, tearing them down, and stabbing them in the back. The answer is to associate with the opposite. Associate with nice guys.
I believe that nice guys finish ahead of jerks. Even if they don’t, they’re more fun to be around. They can make you a better person.
I recognize that I am flawed as a person and don’t like the flaws. I want to improve. Hanging around nice guys is one of the ways I can improve. Here are some other ways I resolve to improve…
- I resolve to surround myself with aspirational people who give me examples to live up to, who will help me ascend as a person, not descend.
- I resolve to be gracious even when confronted with ungracious people.
- I resolve to associate with people who elevate my language and vocabulary, rather than coarsen it.
- I resolve to treat people better than I am treated.
- I resolve to be grateful and in the face of ingratitude.
- I resolve to be considerate to inconsiderate people.
- I resolve to emulate successful people, rather than envy them.
- I resolve to remain true to myself and values so my victories are rich, not Pyrrhic.
- I resolve to give more than I take.
- I resolve to make the world better than I found it.
- I resolve to do what I can to improve the lives of those around me.
- I resolve to know and share joy.
- I resolve to live a life with as few regrets as possible.
- I resolve to be a nice guy and still finish strong.
Are you a nice guy? Do you want to improve as a person? How are you going to do it?
© 2016 Matt Michel