We’ll continue exploring John Templeton’s thoughts on spirituality and business with another excerpt from his speech at Buena Vista College entitled “The Religious Foundation of Liberty and Enterprise.” In this excerpt, we’ll look at the third of five economic vices he discusses in the speech.
The third economic vice is pride. Every businessman who has to work in an economy knows this temptation. It often occurs on the occasion of business success. The economy is up, and so is the firm’s public profile. Profits are up and investors are on your side. It seems that nothing can go wrong—and yet it eventually does. The market economy has a way of punishing the economic vice of pride.
Every successful entrepreneur is a servant. He must be oriented to matters outside of himself. He has to look to consumers and their needs. He must rely on their voluntary patronage to bring about his goals. That is service.
But pride is something different. It is inward looking. It forgets about serving others and becomes selfish. Pride is not the key to success under free enterprise. When the businessman becomes too internal, he loses his customer base and ceases to anticipate the future. He loses profits and, if he is wise, he learns a valuable lesson at the same time. . . .
When the vice of pride becomes entrenched in government, we find the government assuming functions that it is not capable of doing well. Today, we know that fact more than ever, given the recent bankruptcy of the regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
So we see that pride can have individual consequences—it is usually a forerunner to business failure. And it can have social consequences—central planning has never proved so productive as the free market.