Thought for the Day - Rhidian Brook
When Tom Pellereau won the final of The Apprentice earlier this week, it was described as a victory for the nice guy. A competition that usually rewards the robotically determined, pushy type had seen a more personable, unassuming contestant win through. Interestingly, when interviewed afterwards on the sister show – You’re Fired – he didn’t seem that different to the person we’d seen on the main show. He’d somehow managed to remain true to who he was throughout the whole thing.
But it was also striking how much more likeable all the contestants were once released from the pressure cooker of the competition; the show demands ruthlessness from its contestants and it’s edited to exaggerate this, but it did seem that too many of them had tried to live up to someone else’s idea of what they should be rather than trusting in being the person they were. Perhaps this is why Lord Sugar hired who he did. He saw through the tactic of trying to win by being something you’re not.
Such an approach maybe harmless in the world of entertainment, but in the real world of work– where the pressures to succeed and the temptations to win approval are greater - it can be hugely destructive. People are in such a hurry to get on they forget who they are; they magnify themselves by imitating what they think will make them popular. They may even gain a modicum of success adopting this strategy – might even be applauded for their go-gettingness - but in the process they lose something far more valuable, namely their integrity; that sense of self, or wholeness that’s essential for well-being; something not based an outward appearance, but on an internal consistency. What Scripture describes as ‘Truth in the inner most parts. ’
But keeping our integrity under pressure is harder work than we might think. Remaining true to yourself especially when you’re desperate for work, when competition is so great, or when people are asking you tough questions that expose your weaknesses, sometimes requires real calm as well as a fare amount of courage and humility. And yet it’s under pressure that we find out just how ‘whole’ we are, or how much integrity we really have.
The would-be apprentices following Jesus were often looking for the quick route to glory and tempted to hurry through to victory without wanting to do the hard-yards. Under pressure, they’d even deny and dissemble to get their way. And yet their Master was forever setting them straight; not by firing the weak, self-regarding or selfish candidates (he’d have had few followers taking that approach); but by letting them make their inevitable mistakes and then taking the time to show them and teach them who they really were. In his company, there was absolutely nothing to be gained by being inauthentic or taking short cuts but everything to be gained by facing up to the truth of who we are. Victory for the Nice Guy.