Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
Nice guys finish last
A statement that was made 80 years ago, was simplified many times over to give us this line...
People often remember the simplest version of a message. That simple version may not even be the same thing that you said. But when it comes to the human mind, it is all about what sticks.
In 1946, Leo Durocher was the coach for the Dodgers. His club was leading the National League, while their arch rivals the New York Giants were languishing in the last position. During one of the games, Durocher was mocking the Giants in front of a group of sportswriters. One of the writers shouted out “Why don’t you be a nice guy for a change?” Durocher pointed at the Giants’ dugout and said “Nice guys! Look over there. Do you know a nicer guy than Mel Ott [their manager]? Or any of the Giants? Why they’re the nicest guys in the world! And where are they? In seventh place!”
Those words he said got immortalised in Baseball Digest as “Nice guys finish in the last place in the second division.” As time went on the phrase was simplified further and further. Like Chinese whispers, only the very essence of it got left behind. “Nice guys finish last”
That final quote has no reference to the seventh place, it has no reference to baseball or to the man.
Interestingly, Durocher’s autobiography was titled ‘Nice guys finish last.’
If you have to pass a message on to someone, look for the essence of it that sticks. The simpler it is, the longer it will stick.