Barbarians – How To Prevent The Undoing Of Greed

Atlas Shrugged

I’ve just finished reading a rip-roaring business book ‘Barbarians at the Gate’. After two business degrees, I tend to avoid these books preferring instead to learn on the job, rather than ‘on the job’ – to scatological upset.

Yet I enjoyed the ride – despite being true, it reads like a good thriller.

What is most amazing is the ridiculous, maniacal, unbelievable greed and ego.

The players, famous 1980 Wall Streeters, just push and push and push, regardless of how they look, the stress they endure and the punishment that their pursuit of riches has on the 140,000 RJR Nabisco employees, or others.

Inevitably, I just can’t see what drives them.

Most of them are already rich. Most of them seem to live the high life. Most of them seem extremely unhappy.

Few of them seem to have honourable intentions. Few of them are willing to move on when things get unfair. None of them chooses simplicity over greed.

You can feel the palpable excitement within the pages. When corporate jets and beach/mountain houses are collected, I’m not immune to the pull.

Until I look more deeply at my values, at what money means and where the sacrifices have to be made versus the benefits.

Then I remember, I’m happy and I’ve managed to live a charmed life.

Why do we get so seduced?

Next time you find yourself being pulled by the invisible strings of envy or greed. Take a moment to remember what you have and what you need. Then you can truly look at these ‘captains of industry’ or ‘big swinging dicks’ (as Tom Wolfe called them) and realize they are really diminutive unhappy slaves and feel sorry for them rather than jealous.

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