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Losing Ground

I would be lying to you if I said there was this richness of loyalty from the start. There were years of waste, stabbing competitiveness, and wrong hires.

But what I have found is really quite possible for you now. You stop losing ground when you stop spending energy on wasteful gestures, arguments, and competitive fights over price. Instead, you must master your craft like a Zuni stoneworker; you need to outsmart the higher facts of scarcity. For example, I have found it more profitable to explain to first- to five-year hires why I cannot give them something than to just keep piling up their incentive packages. Scarcity is instructive; excess is not.

This is not the same as the traditional recommendation to work hard. Working smart is about not working against yourself or your loyal colleagues. Working smart is about doing more with less. In contrast, we mistakenly believe in modern capitalist settings that we need to be mean and fierce to get ahead. I hear many popular songs and jingles and clichés about the value of meanness.


  

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