We all know what they say about nice guys and their chances of winning that spiffy looking gold medal. However, like so many other tried and true phrases that have been passed down through the ages, this one got a little mangled in the translation.
It probably started back when scholars were first translating all those ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. An unnamed professor, clearly a cat lover, took the symbol of a man with the head of a dog as a bad omen. Sweaty, confident and excited, he jotted down the first phrase ever recorded from this mysterious race of days gone by, "Nice guys finish last."
However, much to the consternation of the professor, there followed a second, almost identical phrase, with differences so subtle as to be easily overlooked. Once again, the dog headed man appeared in a small but similar bit of Egyptian folk wisdom, this time proclaiming, "Stupid nice guys finish last." Assuming it was the same phrase merely repeated for emphasis, he let his original translation stand.
Faster than you could shake a gilded scepter, this misinterpretation spread like wildfire throughout the popular press, and soon everyone was misquoting that famous old Egyptian saying, "Nice guys finish first." The professor's cat, clearly cognizant of the damage done, couldn't have been more pleased. But then, cats are like that sometimes.
If the Egyptians believed that nice guys finish first and only stupid nice guys finish last, what impact does this have on our modern society? Apart from the fact that archaeologists should be prohibited by federal law from harboring cats, this shocking discovery, only recently uncovered, has broad implications which affect us all.
Nice guys, long the topic of countless cocktail party jokes, might well stage an uprising. Before you know it, our entire nation, perhaps even the world at large, could be run by nice guys. I only hope they have the dignity to establish a welfare program for all of those out of work politicians.
Therefore, since the fate of the world hangs in the balance, perhaps it's time to ask what the distinction is between a nice guy and a stupid nice guy. Fortunately, having a friend who was King Tut in a previous lifetime (and please don't ask about the costume parties), I have a rather unique perspective on this matter.
Nice guys are a frequent target because it's assumed that they're completely defenseless. Being a good natured lot, it's taken for granted that they will never resist an injustice and have no understanding of human nature, office politics, or the dog eat dog tendencies of people who are driven by social or career ambitions (my neighbor's cat insisted that I add that last little bit). In fact, this was what the ancient Egyptians meant by stupid nice guys. The hieroglyphic subtleties are doubtless due to the prominence of cats in their culture.
Nonetheless, the scheming of cats and dogs aside, consider the power of someone who treats everyone they meet with kindness, dignity and respect. Such a person would enter every relationship thinking of what would benefit the other person. Furthermore, being honorable and trustworthy by nature, they would have tremendous credibility These attributes alone would bring them a veritable army of enthusiastic friends and allies, since everyone wants to associate with people who treat them well.
However, true nice guys are also students of strategy and human nature. They see conflict coming and are usually gone before it arrives. When cornered, they don't shrug their shoulders and simply take the injustice, they apply whatever remedy is needed for defense, from gentle diplomacy to tapping their antagonist on the head with a gilded scepter.
Good heavens, the combination of benevolence and social street smarts would make these guys invincible. Perhaps it's best the Egyptians were misquoted after all. I mean, what would we do with all of those out of work politicians?