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Success: 3 Reasons Nice Guys Finish First

Working out with Work Out Help Out

We’ve all had a friend who always got whatever they wanted- not because they earned it, but because they were __________ (rich, powerful, attractive- you name it). The ostensible observation is that we should not be envious of this person because the power is not warranted, and instead we should praise power based on merit. While examples like this are still commonplace in American society, I would argue this type of person is gradually losing appeal, and the “Nice Guys” are finally starting to make a comeback. Now when people take advantage of their power, the public is instantly made aware of it via social media outlets.

Kanye West tried to cut in line at Franklin Barbeque in Texas- to no avail.

While this doesn’t necessarily curb the behavior or decrease the incidence of power manipulation, I do feel that it raises awareness and alters public perception of individuals, businesses, and organizations that choose to make decisions based on profit versus morality. There are exceptions to the rule (see photo above), but this seems to generally be true. Conversely, and to my point, people and businesses that choose to “do the right thing” are now being given a larger platform in which to share their message. While this behavior should certainly be motivated by intrinsic values and not public recognition, I do see utility in spreading this message and promoting positivity, especially in today’s culture of growing negativity and selfishness. Listed below are a few reasons why I feel people and organizations ultimately succeed in today’s society, despite making decisions that may seem detrimental at the time.

1. Because They’re Selfish.

“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”- Randy Pausch

If you can’t take care of yourself, it is impossible to take care of others. Sure, you can get by neglecting yourself physically and mentally for quite some time - the human body is tremendously resilient. But to help and support others to the best of your ability and do so for an extended period of time, you have to be prepared. The more physically capable and mentally strong you are, the more you will be able to help and influence others. So, be greedy and set aside personal time to go to the gym, read books, socialize with your friends, and do whatever you need to be the best person you can be. Because in the end, taking care of yourself is best for everybody, and those who love you most would agree.

2. Because They’re Altruistic

“To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task”- Sophocles

This may seem somewhat ironic given the previous point, but the idea is to maximally build yourself so you may maximally build others. You have so much to give- your time, your money, your thoughts- the list goes on. If you struggle to think of something you can offer the world, perhaps you should take time to reconsider your self-worth. And if you think you have plenty to offer the world but don’t have the time or means to share it, in short, you’re wrong. I don’t care who you are, there is always someone out there busier than you and doing exactly what you say you can’t. Whether it’s a monetary donation, an hour of volunteer service/month, or even just a favor for a friend, I promise that you have the capacity to share your potential. The real irony lies in how supporting others strengthens your character more than anything you could do for yourself.

JJ Watt hoists a toddler at a charity event

One of the hardest working athletes in professional sports makes time for philanthropy.

3. Because They’re Gold

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

The world needs Nice Guys. As an employee, you’ll get paid more for demonstrating virtuous character. This could be in the form of compensation, raises/promotions, etc. At the end of the day your boss needs people like you because you are the face of the company. As a business owner, consumers will actually pay more for your product if they believe what you stand for. There is ample research to support this statement, but as an example, why do you think people shop at Whole Foods? Hint: it’s definitely not because they offer the best prices! As a person, you’ll have more friends, better relationships, and more opportunity to grow and pursue things you’re most passionate about. Birds of a feather flock together, and when good people realize who you are and what you stand for, they want to be a part of your life and support you. The more you build personal relationships and capitalize on opportunities, the more success you earn; the more success you earn, the more new opportunities arise to build new relationships.

Google employees are compensated and treated well because of their obvious contributions toward the company’s success.

So, what’s the take-away?

  • Love yourself. Develop and maintain physical and mental health for independence, longevity, and most importantly, for others.

  • Love others. Share your time, money, and/or thoughts with the world to keep your heart content and inspire others.

  • Capitalize. Take advantage of opportunities to love yourself, love others, and leave your positive mark on the world.

If these actions seem difficult or impossible, fake it. Fake it until you make it, as they say. Just try for a few months, even if you hate it. You’ll find in time you’re no longer faking it, and you’ve become the person you aspired to be.


Dr. William Richardson is a board member and program director for Work Out Help Out. As a certified personal trainer and licensed physical therapist, William has extensive knowledge about the human movement system and is passionate about joining exercise and volunteer service to change the health of the nation.

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