How much would you risk to have it all?


A common trait of those who rise to the top in any craft or profession is a ruthless competitiveness, a desire to win, a desire to be the best. These men and women’s unbelievable competitive drive, be it from hatred of losing, love of winning, fear of failure, or another motive, is the trait that brings them to such great heights and also often causes them to fall as spectacularly as they rose. I was surprised to see only one other post about House of Cards, whose 3rd season was released on Netflex this week.

*There will be no spoiler alerts in this post*

In House of Cards, Kevin Spacey portrays Frank Underwood, whose actions paint a picture of the American Political system that shows the men and women in charge of leading the nation to be motivated by personal gain. Some people are greedy for money, others are greedy for power. One thing that all of the characters on the show have in common, they are willing to do anything to keep what they have. The fictional competitive drive that brought Frank Underwood and his peers to political supremacy is the same as the very real competitive drive that it takes to become an executive at a billion dollar company, or head of a hundred million dollar audit account, or an actual US politician. Once these people rise to the top of their profession and get these jobs, they begin to act in their own best interest, making decisions with motives including greed, selfish interests at the expense of others, and survival. The competitive spirit that allowed these individuals to rise to their positions of power also inspires them to cook the books, bribe, cheat, and lie to keep feeding their competitive need to win at all costs.


7 thoughts on “How much would you risk to have it all?”

  1. Don’t read this comment if you don’t want any spoilers!

    How would you respond to characters like Nancy Dunbar, who have risen to powerful political positions through dedication to truth, and integrity? Do you think her campaign for the presidency is all a lie, and that once elected she will cease to bring the same dedication to honesty and morals that she has shown throughout her entire career? In other words, isn’t it possible for politicians and business men to be successful and rise to the top without losing sight of their moral compass and continue to act not in their own best interest, but in a truly ethical fashion?


  2. Frank Underwood is a character who will do anything to get what he wants. His little actions are planned ahead for perfection and he doesn’t care who he hurts (except for a few) on the way. He represents a government official that has little or no ethics in his book, yet he is a character that is loved by the fans of House of Cards. When I’m watching the show, I personally want him to succeed in every move, even though I’m well aware that nothing that he does is in the frame of ethics. Why do you think people still love him in spite of his “evil” character?


  3. I watched the first few episodes. I just got tired of there not being anyone I could sympathize, I guess.

    You seem to be saying that anyone who is successful will only do so by being that ruthless (and unethical?). Is there a difference between ambitious and ruthless, or are you saying the one leads to the other, inevitably?


  4. What would you say about about upper management in companies in today’s society? Think about the most ethical company you know. You would say that they got there by greed and a “win at all costs” mentality?


  5. Though I started watching House of Cards last year, I couldn’t even get through the first season without feeling bored and unimpressed. The show’s sometimes ridiculous display of power politics and greed doesn’t inspire anything and left a bed taste in my mouth. Your stated “a common trait of those who rise to the top in any craft or profession is a ruthless competitiveness, a desire to win, a desire to be the best” and I would have to disagree with you. In competitive industries such as finance, corporate world and perhaps politics, ruthless competition does exist but I do not see it being the be-all-end-all tactics for businesses. If we let ourselves engage in this philosophy, we are doomed as a society. The humanitarian industry is one example where greed is frowned upon and I would urge other industries and politicians to fight this mannerism.


  6. I believe that my comments are meant to be less absolute than they have been taken.
    I do not believe that all successful people accomplish their goals by being ruthless (and unethical). However, I do believe that a common trait of people who do become extremely successful (self made millionaires, professional athletes) is an extreme competitive nature, and a willingness to do what others might not be willing to do to get ahead. While this is trait can be one of the main reasons that drives these people to the top of their respective profession– that causes them to wake up at 5 a.m. to train, or create business models, or read world news– it is this same competitive nature that can lead them to be more willing to consider unethical options when they feel that their supremacy is threatened including performance enhancing drugs, insider trading, cooking the books, black mail, and other unethical actions to remain in power.


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