Capitalism is often not nice. Talk about the obvious. But also talk about the nearly impossible for me to embrace. I've long considered playing business to win as unsightly verging on unethical. Now, except when it is unethical, I think of it as an unlikely but fascinating benefit of being alive in the 21st century.
Capitalism is often pugilism. At its best, it's like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, grace and strength going after each other with scary ferocity. It's hitting as hard as you can, as fast as you can. It's dodging as many blows as possible, and recovering quickly from the ones that get through. It's having a fight strategy, but changing it the moment it stops working. It's both smart and rough as hell.
But capitalism isn't thuggery, or least shouldn't be. That's like Ali knocking out the kid asking for an autograph. Then it becomes crime, not business.
Capitalism isn't cruelty, either. Competitors can be fast friends and crucial allies outside the ring. And a side benefit of the brawling can be life-enhancing innovation and meaningful, well-paying work. Think Apple vs.Microsoft, Google vs.Facebook, Verizon vs. AT&T, Toyota vs.GM.
And for me personally, being up for a head-to-head challenge in my daily work duties is a necessity. So is the need to go in with some fierceness and fire in my heart and battle strategies in my head. So is the ability to accept getting knocked down, knowing that I can't stay down. So is the realization that when you step in the ring, it's a fight.
Happy Birthday, Ali. And RIP, Smokin' Joe.