La ley del más vivo: avoid it like the plague
In Venezuela, where I grew up in the 70's and 80's, there is a saying: “la ley del más vivo”. There’s really no direct translation, but it basically means “survival of the most cunning.”
It means that to get ahead, you do whatever it takes, even if it means skirting laws and hurting others. It means befriending others just to rip them off when they aren’t paying attention, stealing from the hand that feeds you, and doing whatever it takes to get ahead, despite the consequences to those around you now and into the future.
Its no way to live a good life, at least not for me. Which is why I’m glad I don’t live in Venezuela anymore. That’s how things operate even today in that country. Unless you have lived in a 3rd world country for an extended period of time, you really don’t know what its like when it comes to how much impact la ley del más vivo has on nearly everything around you.
While not nearly as big a problem Stateside as it is in Venezuela, here at home, in the good ‘ol US of A, that “survival of the most cunning” law often materializes as price gouging, change orders, and nickel and diming someone to death. Which is also no way to sleep well at night or have a clear conscience.
Do the opposite of that law, and life will reward you with ample opportunities…and less worry
You don’t need to be sneaky or cunning to get ahead in business. Rather, if you treat your clients fairly, they will in turn treat you fairly. Sounds cliché, I know, but it’s true. Sometimes this comes in the form of repeat business. Sometimes it comes in the form of a recommendation that ultimately leads to another project or opportunity. You will never know when or where it will come from, but it always does, and at the right time.
That’s how I operate. I’m no Evan Spiegel or Joel Spolski, but I’ve managed to stay in business — on my own terms — for the past 24 years. It hasn’t been easy: cash flow and other headaches are always present. But I sleep well at night, because I haven’t knowingly screwed someone over for an extra buck, and I know that a new opportunity will present itself at the right time. And the reason is— I think—because I don’t follow la ley del más vivo.