What We Can Learn From Crooks

The other day I was meeting with a couple of business colleagues and the conversation led to talk about the politics behind a couple of different groups. As one colleague told us about what was going on behind the scenes I couldn’t help but wonder what could be achieved if people put as much time and energy into productive work as they did into non-productive work.

Here were two very good, well-intentioned groups who, if they worked together, would make things so much better for so many people. But instead, there were people in both groups that were fighting over their turf, protecting egos, and looking after themselves. And because of that, neither was as productive as they could be, and the team as a whole was definitely suffering.

If only people would put as much time and energy into productive work as they do into non-productive, we’d all be further ahead.

This reminded me of the crook who spends months planning to steal something. What if he’d put that much energy into something worthwhile?

Or, the sports leagues splintering and then coming back together, but the sport never being as strong as it once was.

Or, the political parties… But I’m not going there!

Rather than nodding your head in agreement and thinking that others shouldn’t be so silly, stop and ask yourself if you’ve ever contributed to this kind of non-productive behavior. Are you doing that now?

And while I’m on this topic, check out the RSA Animation of Dan Ariely’s talk, The Truth About Dishonesty.

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