The Real Price of Winning at All Costs

Let me ask you a question. In the movie the Karate Kid, who is the American hero? Mr. Miyagi or the maniacal sensei of the Cobra Kai, John Kreese? You see we want winners in America, but we also expect a clean fight.

Winning at all costs is sweeping the leg without any concern for the opponent:


Winning was the result of sanding the fence and waxing the car for young Daniel-san. The consistency of his applied training led to victory. but winning was not the goal. Then again I’m not really writing a post about the Karate Kid.

The spate of scandals and investigations into corporate greed lately have had me thinking about profit as a goal. Winning, or profiting, at all costs sometimes results in sacrificing values in the name of the win. Coaches throwing basketballs at their players, corporations creating accounting fictions to pilfer every cent from investors and trusted advisors swindling billions from their friends are stories of profit at all costs. Somewhere along the way, the result became the goal, and these folks were willing to compromise on the promises that led to their success.

As I’ve spent a lot of time with business executives conducting corporate retreats, one of the most common goals that I hear from organizations is growth. I mean that  is the reason that we’re in business, right? But here is the issue: profit or growth as the unbridled goal will justify any means necessary to achieve the goal.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Edward Abbey

But when organizations solidly train to be the best in the world, they win. World champion athletes win by  relentlessly training for unimaginable events. Growth and profit will be a result. Companies like Zappos, Rackspace and Starbucks drive to their purpose-driven goals within the constraints of their core values. The consistent pursuit of goals aligned with of core purpose, core values and brand promise is integrity.

Just like we don’t want to see Johnny sweep the knee to win, we don’t want to see Bernie Madhoff betray his relationships for momentary bliss. So, what’s the real cost of winning at all costs? Integrity, as the core of the organization disintegrates.

Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.