Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?

by Joe Plemon on September 28, 2009

Tour of Britain Gateshead - Kai Reus
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jonathan Shield

Leo Durocher, the fiery and controversial baseball player and manager, was famous for his statement that “Nice Guys Finish Last.” He actually co-penned an autobiography by the same name. Another Durocher quote, “Win any way you can, as long as you can get away with it”, seems to summarize his life philosophy. Durocher died in 1991 at age 86, so while many of you don’t remember him, I am sure you have heard his philosophy expressed by co-workers, bosses and family members: “Winning is everything, no matter how you do it.”

Of course this mindset is distasteful, but how many of us, deep down inside, believe it. More specifically, because this column is about finances, how many of us believe that the ultra-wealthy climbed their ladder to success by kicking the rungs out from their competitors? The recent “golden parachutes” once again seemed to give credence to this belief as CEO’s of failed corporations were rewarded after leading their companies to disaster.

But this is the question that you and I need to answer: Is it really true that success only comes by cheating and backstabbing? Let me assure you that the answer is a resounding “NO”! “What,” you ask, “makes you such an expert?” Rest assured that I am not an expert, but Thomas Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind” is.

In his classic book, “The Millionaire Mind”, Stanley did in depth interviews of 733 millionaires, asking them to rate in descending order 30 factors that contributed to their success. The results are eye-opening.

  • “Graduating at or near the top of my class” was dead last at 30.
  • “Having a high IQ/superior intelligence” came in at 21.
  • “Making wise investments” did a bit better at number 10.

So what were the top traits of the millionaire mind?

Let’s count down from 5 to 1:

5: “Working harder than most people.”

4: “Having a supportive spouse.”

3: “Getting along with people.”

2: “Being well disciplined.”

And (drum roll please) the number one quality of the millionaire mind is:

1: “Being honest with all people.”

There you go. Hard work, good marriage, get along, discipline and honesty. Solid traits that any of us can do.

How about you? What are your core values? How are you doing at the top five? There is no doubt that all of us can be more successful by practicing these qualities. And there is no doubt that Leo Durocher was wrong.


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