Spite- The Fuel of Champions


World War Two was over.

Surrounded by military surplus and armed with the skills he gained in the Italian air force, Ferrucio got to work.  An extremely driven and talented man, by the mid-fifties he had built one of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world. 

Wanting for nothing and with a vast fortune, Ferrucio decided to purchase the ultimate Italian status symbol of his era, a Ferrari.  And that is where our story could have ended, if not for a one malfunctioning clutch and one equally deficient ego. 

The clutch belonged to Ferrucio– or more accurately Ferrucio’s new car.  Luckily our friend Ferrucio knew a thing or two about clutches.  So when he repeatedly had issues with the clutch in his new Ferrari, he quickly diagnosed how to solve it.  Being a helpful patriot, he decided to set a meeting with his countryman Enzo Ferrari to share his insight.

Ferrari, owner of the aforementioned ego, took the meeting with Ferrucio and with his legendary pomposity promptly dismissed him with all the tact you’d expect from an Italian multi-millionaire. 

“You stick to building tractors and I will stick to building sports cars.”– Enzo Ferrari

Clearly a lowly tractor manufacturer could not possibly know anything about high performance automobiles.  So  Enzo, whose automobiles were refined but whose personality never was, took great pride in sharing his thoughts with a shocked and dismayed Ferrucio. 

It was the “go home and get your shinebox” of its era.

Ferrucio was angered, but more than anything inspired.  Fueled by spite he set off to build cars that would outperform Ferrari’s, thereby earning him the last laugh, and possibly some respect.

Did it work?  To answer that question is to reveal his full name. 
Ferrucio Elio Arturo Lamborghini.

Yes, that Lamborghini. 

The bottom line is that pride is tough to manage. 

Consider Ferrari’s pride– too great to lower himself to take advice from a lowly tractor-builder.   Enzo’s character flaws are obvious.  But was Lamborghini much better?  The man changed careers and the entire trajectory of his life in an all-consuming obsession fueled solely by spite.

While hyper-competitiveness, ambition and drive likely played a large part in building these men into successful businessmen they were, do you think those were ultimately positive traits?  Or would you say they are euphemisms for arrogance and selfishness? 


What do you think?

  • These men amassed great fortunes and fame  They and others like them are celebrated in our culture, should they be? 
  • How can we raise our kids to be humble when the payoff for the opposite seems so great?
  • Who should we hold up as examples of the ego-less?

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Christian. Father. Hawkeye. Male pattern baldness survivor.

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