“I can only say this: My whole life has been about winning.
My whole life.
My life has been about victories. I’ve won a lot. I win a lot. I win – when I do something, I win. And even in sports, I always won. I was always a good athlete. And I always won. In golf, I’ve won many club championships. Many, many club championships. And I have people that can play golf great, but they can’t win under pressure.
So I’ve always won.”
“Donald Trump cannot possibly understand [Geneva] because he has neither the experience, the expertise or the moral compass to grasp it,” Geneva is “a fundamental moral and tactical construct that serves as a foundation for the law of armed conflict, because all wars, including the global war on terror, come to an end.
We as a community of nations need to engage with one another and not be separated by horrible, immoral treatment of one side over another.”
air force reserve colonel and an interrogations expert
I almost called this “whatever serves your purpose.”
Donald Trump has made me think a lot, like A LOT, about how you conduct yourself in light of the fact that not everyone conducts themselves the same.
There are some basic human driven rules which 99% of people have imprinted on their attitudes that affect their behavior but beyond that … the way you play the game can be dictated by who you are, where you live and a variety of emotional triggers.
I am not talking about what you say or being ‘political correct’ <which may be the most bastardized discussed concept in this particular point in history> but rather things like “well, if they chop off heads and we do not doesn’t that give them an edge … so …” … or … “if they are breaking the rules maybe we should relook at the rules.”
Those kind of things.
While weakTrump is a horrible little man ethically he is bringing to the forefront a topic which should be discussed at a national level.
How you play the game matters.
Yes, outcomes do matter, but inevitably you get judged or measured on both the outcome AND how you attained that outcome.
Maybe we have lost sight of that.
So let’s discuss the how part. Because it is not as simple as playing by the rules versus cheating. Because there is a lot of room in-between those lines.
“When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves – they threaten their own self-esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true.”
Yale philosopher Harry Frankfurt outlined in “On Bullsh*t” that there is a difference between BS-ers and liars: Liars respect the truth, because they must know what it is in order to effectively conceal it. BS-ers are different, in that “truth” is simply not a useful category to them. Any belief is “true” if it serves, if it is convenient. BS-ers have no coherent theory of evidence or of inference, have no need for such things, are contemptuous of reason. In this sense, they are much more corrupting of discourse than liars.
In other words … in order to win the “truth” is whatever serves the purpose. I believe this also bleeds into “rules” <which are a version of truths>.
While outcomes matter just imagine that how you play the game either diminishes you or increases you as a person. And you actually get judged on both aspects … not just one or the other.
And the true paradox lies in the concept that this behavior … this ‘win at any cost’ attitude is the ultimate reflection of a “respect is about winning” attitude.
Winning is absolutely good but the true essence of sportsmanship is something more than merely getting the most points on the board.
Getting good grades is important but not if it requires cheating.
Getting a promotion is good but not if you do sabotaging another person.
And if you don’t buy those … how many people do you respect that whine their way to victory?
Indeed, the notion that winning is the highest value runs counter to most usual definitions of heroism, decency and good character.
Atticus Finch is the hero of To Kill a Mockingbird even though he loses.
Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero but his true victory, while living, was in the attempt.
Ned Stark in Game of Thrones is a hero even though he gets his head chopped off.
Even in business winning isn’t everything. Integrity matters.
Think about this in a comparison way … while Trump defends his any-means-necessary approach to winning & making as much money as he can <as if that is what to be great in business demands> I could point out many business people who are far richer than Trump who have played the game within the rules with integrity & dignity.
I would argue that in order to have a better world that how we play the game becomes a metaphorical and reality ethical exercise.
As I typed that I made a note to google ethical game theory:
An ethical game is usually not the kind of game that lets us replay a dichotomy of good and evil and, in worst case, denies us to judge between right and wrong. An ethical game design takes the player seriously as an individual with an ethical reasoning developed appropriate to their age, leaving it up to them to make a decision.
For this reason, an ethical game is also in no way a game that treats its players as »moral infants«. It presents the player with ethical challenges just as it poses motoric, exploratory, strategic or logical challenges.
Purely abstract game mechanics can’t create an ethical aspect. Ethical challenges can only be generated through portraying them in the game world (and particularly through the story) – and through the medial interaction of the player with it.
Conversely, however, an ethical challenge can create game mechanics, which are never abstract, but result from the conflict in the player’s mind as a very specific challenge in the game world.
The game of life, and business, constantly adjusts to the skill of the players involved. And as reality adjusts those playing get better and better. And, yet, the constant adjusting also demands the players to improve their skills. That demands work.
And that is where “rules” truly get challenged.
Rather than put in the work to improve the skills some players ‘do whatever it takes’ or use ‘whatever serve the purpose’ to win.
All this really means is that while Life is lived and challenges are met some players’ ethics get nurtured while other players shelve ethical growth so as not … well … not lose.
Not losing as an objective basically makes winning a morally empty principle. The win is the glory not how you played the game.
Let me be clear.
Anyone in today’s world, focused on all the challenges and mentally taking each one and permitting it to take on a life of its own would begin to think everything was going in the wrong direction … in other words … we were losing.
And that view gets exacerbated if you believe you have been working hard and ‘playing the game hard.’
And in that moment … that moment in which you are tired of working so hard and not seeing any clear cut victories … you start edging in to “so what will it take for me/us to finally win.”
The slippery slope of ‘how you play the game matters’ looms in front of you. it is hard, event for the most principled person, to not think about stepping on the slope.
Here is what I think.
For years, in our culture, we <society> have been in conflict with regard to winning.
Winning is everything versus everyone is a winner.
Winners get demonized by their win at any cost attitude <and celebrated t the same time>.
Participants get demonized by their inability to win <and yet celebrated by the victory in the attempt>.
But this conflict has seesawed.
Conceptually the former <winning is everything> is owned by the older generations and the latter <everyone who participates in the game wins> is owned by the younger generations.
The old see their version of winning being marginalized … and at exactly the same time they see overall larger country and economic results lagging <or in their eyes … “going the way of the loser shithole”>.
Therefore, to those people, anyone who dares reject the rules of the game … even if they do not win … are a reflection of the at long last “do anything it takes to win because winning is everything” attitude we need to not be in the loser shithole.
This is where someone like Trump can look attractive to some people.
It is like hiring a new coach who looks like he is someone prepared to defy conventions – this creates some exhilaration in the fan base.
“fuck yeah … it’s about time.”
It signals the arrival of a maverick outsider who is not just going to shake things up but is prepared to destroy to create.
That sounds good.
As long as it is within the rules of the game and by ‘rules’ I mean the true construct of playing the game <Geneva Convention offers specific rules and, of course, there is something called the Constitution and things called ‘laws’> as well as the integrity of playing the game.
All I can say is really from a business guy perspective.
Give me the construct … give me the box to play within … and I can be creative enough WITHIN the box to beat anyone. I wrote this in 2015:
I would suggest that the highest quality freedom <in and of anything>, the most satisfying freedom, is not found without fences but within fences.
True creativity is found within the box and not out of the box. Out of the box is most often impractical, not realistic long term and ultimately pales when placed next to ethical principles. Winning within the box is maybe the most satisfying feeling in the world.
In the end.
How you win matters. And changing the rules simply to ‘win’ loses sight of what is really important – not the win itself but the principled effort you took to gain the win.
And if that doesn’t convince you … remember … rules represent:
“a fundamental moral and tactical construct that serves as a foundation for the law of conflict, because all conflict come to an end. “