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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Greed is good

“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Gordon Gekko: Address to Teldar Paper Stockholders, from the movie Wall Street - 1987

We have heard it said that “pain is the great motivator.”  We somewhat agree, though we would change “the” to “a”.  Motivation is often categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivators include recognition, rewards, money, and praise. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and includes achievement, self -esteem and personal gratifications. 

Pain is, in fact, a great motivator, as is the quest for achievement, affiliation, or power.  Fear and safety motivate as well, and of course, greed makes the list. 

The Gordon Gekko type of greed is often, and rightly, considered motive run amuck. Greed makes the list of the seven deadly sins for a reason.  We are NOT advocating an unhealthy relationship with want.  For this post, our definition of greed is “a strong desire; a healthy want for more”.  The big differentiator in our definition is that we seek to share our fortune and not keep it for ourselves.

As our stories unfolded, we parked in the place of pain in those initial days.  We had hurt so much, so many, and had near-fatally wounded ourselves.  The pain was omnipresent.  We felt it in the deepest depth of our being. It was in our head and in our face.  We saw it all around us and so desperately needed it to stop, but we were at a loss for direction.  We fell, defeated and aimless.  In a moment, we simply gave up the fight.  We wanted the pain to go away – at any cost.

There was no lightning bolt at our turn toward transformation.  There was but a void, an emptiness.  The pain, however, dissipated almost immediately as we surrendered the old to the new. 

Somewhere deep inside, we knew that there was a better way.

Lacking a plan and internal strength, we leaned on the external: Our families, doctors, and faith leaders.  “I can't” was our mantra, and “we can” was theirs. The sharp presence of pain was enough to convince us to try their way.

We were pointed to 12-step recovery as a solution to the pain problem.  We were reluctant and skeptical as we knew one thing for certain: that we had tried, with all we could muster, to beat the unbeatable.  The beast was too big.  We had connection to thousands of failed attempts. 

Still motivated by pain, we stayed the course of listening and learning.  We were committed to the quest for a cure and quickly found that the people at these meetings had found it, or at least they reflected that appearance.  Honestly, we remained suspicious of the cult-like environment, but desperation kept us coming back.  We noticed that their walk matched their words. Not all, but enough to make us converts. We were like magnets to the winners, peeling the onion back to see where the smell came from – was it reality, fallacy, fact, or fiction?  Was there truly hope for us?

We began to think differently, to look at our history and our present situation in a different way. We commenced to practice what the winners were preaching.  We followed their suggestions and made students of ourselves.  We accepted the challenge laid upon us to methodically and sequentially walk through the 12 steps of recovery, as laid out in the literature provided by Alcoholics Anonymous.  We did the work, and we began to act differently.  The pain subsided slowly, replaced with a peace and hope for better things to come. 

Our pains were healing, and we were gaining a confidence and a comfort that a well-balanced life is meant to deliver.  We were tasting the rewards of victory over the beast.  Each 24 hours secured our commitment and left us thirsty for more of the prize the program offers.  We became further motivated by the want for more of what was in front of us – and less by the pain behind us. We were greedy for more of this thing called sobriety.

Lest we forget where we come from and why we are set on transformation, we bring ourselves back to the point of pain for a moment each day.  We close our eyes and mentally journey back to the place of agony.  We remember. We connect. And then, we open our eyes and take in where we are at, appreciating each detail, and return to the business of progress. 

So, yes, pain motivates.  It is not the only motivator, and it has its place.  Greed, a strong desire, a healthy want, for more of a good thing, motivates us today.  Service motivates us.  Sharing this gift with others struggling to find peace and a hope for better motivates us.

Our quest to be the best version of ourselves for ourselves motivates us.

To pass it on, we first need to possess it. 


“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”― Horace Mann, author and educator (1796-1859)


Gentle reminder: The Gordon Gekko character landed in JAIL for eight years.  We walk FREE of guilt, shame, remorse, and regret today.  Choose greed wisely. Just saying.



Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast #41  titled ""Rapid Fire" - 6 Sober Espresso Shots ” The session dropped on 1/12/2022….Click here to hear the podcast. 

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash 


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.



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