The Bad Success: Do You Have To Be Evil To Be Successful?8 min read

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A lot of people are under serious pressure to succeed in life – partly due to the increased connectivity of the world which makes us hyper-aware of the super-successful, and partly due to the unsettling rise of wrongdoers to the top…It makes one wonder, “do you have to be evil to be successful in life?”

It is easy to do wrong. If you’ve ever done wrong, I understand why you acted the way you did. Even in all my self-awareness, I sometimes allow myself to be willfully unconscious of (or unable to control) my responses – I sometimes knowingly do the wrong things. I do this because sometimes it is easier, and other times because it is tempting.

Life can be merciless. Life can be complicated and overwhelming. Life can even be confusing and boring…that is why we sometimes yield to the temptation of doing things that are wrong.

I get that.

But doing wrong, and being evil are two different things.

I understand that within every conscious human (no matter how weak, small, ignorant, worldly, spiritual, educated, big, or powerful) lies the capacity and tendency to execute evil 

Evil, not in the sense of having horns, fangs, or claws (like Disney or Hollywood portray evil people to be), but worse. Evil in the sense of being able to propagate “suffering” for the sake of suffering.

Only humans, of all other creatures, can device (or at least imagine) ways of bringing misery upon another creature just for the sake of seeing it suffer – that is evil.

And we even find it amusing and enjoyable –as enjoyable as Disney and Hollywood portray it…or maybe even more. We sometimes have this deep satisfaction from it – I heard there are even names for these sort of feelings; “Schadenfreude” and “Sadism”…you might have even experienced some of these feelings

There is a capacity in humans to objectify other living things: 

We have the capacity to move (I.e. uproot) a living flower like we would pick and toss a pebble (which is not alive). We have the capacity to get rid of (I.e. murder) a human just like we would a tree blocking our path

We have the capacity/tendency to ignore other people’s suffering (or even initiate it without remorse), and anyone who doesn’t think they are capable of this – i.e. of causing serious harm – is either naïve or a liar.

I totally understand how people can do bad things and still feel okay about it … it is one of the perks of being a human – we can justify anything we wish to justify. 

But it doesn’t make it “not bad” nonetheless

Why Do People Do Bad Things In Other To Succeed?

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

People usually do bad because it feels good. But It is not enough to act based on how we feel… not just because it is morally wrong, or socially destructive, but because it is also harmful to the perpetrator

I understand why people carry out acts such as fraud (or Yahoo), prostitution (or Runs.), kidnapping, looting of public funds (I’m looking at you corrupt Politicians), etcetera… It makes for an easy way out – out of the struggle of an average human.

But evil is not helpful for anyone – not even for the perpetrators 

It sounds ludicrous when I say this – considering the perpetrators (in my dear country, and maybe even in yours) are usually in socially higher positions

But there are consequences for evil

Why You Should Not Do Evil?

“No matter how hard Evil tries, it can never quite match up to the power of Good, because Evil is ultimately self-destructive. Evil may set out to corrupt others, but in the process corrupts itself.”
― John Connolly

There are two main reasons you must not do evil:

  • The first reason is that it corrupts you. 
  • The second is that it corrupts others.

No one can escape themselves

Somehow the mind tends to shape our perception of the world according to how we’ve acted towards it

Hence, if we become cold and wicked towards the word, we begin to believe the world is also cold and wicked towards us

I once knew a childhood playmate who was executed by his pals because he was injured during one of their robberies which went south … testifiers said he would have done the same to his “friends” without hesitation to avoid being traced

It’s very hard to find a thief who can sleep without worries his/her pals would steal from him. Cheating partners don’t trust their partners. Liars always think you’re lying. And violent people are always anticipating violence

We drag ourselves to hell by our actions

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Why Should We Do Good Deeds Instead?

You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want in life.”

Zig Ziglar

Living a good life starts by putting out good into the world

You create Heaven on earth by producing and dishing out pieces of that heaven to the world around you – you literally build it block by block with each act of goodness.

Then one day, all of a sudden, you have someone you can borrow money from. You have someone coming to help you do the cooking and cleaning. You have someone referring you to others. You have someone checking up on you. You have someone loving you…etc.

Mark Manson, one of my favorite authors, once said that he was assured that even if his business collapsed – and he had nothing else to do – he was still very sure he wasn’t going to starve or suffer 


Because he had grown his network (with goodwill – by helping millions of people all over the world)

A good life is different from a glamorous life 

You can put yourself in a position in life where your daily bread would be assured even if the world collapsed in anarchy 

You can put yourself in a position where you would wake up “happy” and “grateful” no matter the social position you may be

Many people don’t like considering this, but you can be in a very high social position and be very much in peril 

…afraid of being apprehended by the authorities, or mobbed by the crowd…

…In a position where you are distrustful and restless 

…in a position that you find no inherent meaning

…sometimes you may even breakdown and cry

But at least you would have precious STONES

But How Can I Succeed In My Life Doing Good Things?

“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out”

– Robert Collier

There is a lot to be said about success. Firstly, it is tricky to define. You need to ask yourself some questions like, what is success to me? And why do I even want to “succeed”?

It takes a lot of introspection to first know what you need and why you need it. After that, you would need to be

  • Realistic: You have to understand that success is not always a great leap, but small consistent improvements over time. So, set goals, and achieve those goals – soon they would sum up to success you can’t even imagine right now…
  • Focused: You can’t succeed by doing everything at once. Remain laser-focused.
  • Enthusiastic And Passionate: You must be willing to learn, and actually learn (no matter the cost). You also have to practice, visualize, construct, and play around with concepts and ideas that are related to the field you want to succeed in. You should be able to “relish” in the “process” of achieving your success, else it may not really be a success in the end.
  • Resilient And Patient: You have to develop grit. You must be willing to try, fail, and try again till success comes. You have to keep knocking till the door opens.
  • Humble: You should be willing to ask for help when you can’t do something. And when you do succeed, you should be humble enough to be thankful for your teachers, as well as colleagues. 

So, yes…there is a good success, and there is a bad success, and even though good success takes longer – and may even be harder to notice – it is better than bad success – which can come quickly and be very, very pronounced, but which also comes with dire consequences (for the individual and the world at large).

so, to the question, “do you have to be evil to be successful”, the answer is no.

Dick David is a freelance SEO content writer and editor with over 7 years of experience in content writing, digital marketing, and sales. He is the founder of Pawns Digital Agency. Throughout his career, he has authored over 4 books, published hundreds of SEO articles attracting thousands of monthly visitors, ghostwritten numerous works, and edited hundreds of content pieces across various industries. Currently, he works with Robert Taylor Media and has also worked with Tobi Digitals and Branditechture Design Agency, among others.

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