Post #014: Opportunism

London, December 31, 2017

Both my partner and my few friends know that I am a great admirer of Konstantinos Karamanlis [1]; a towering figure of 20th century European politics. I admire the man, I am grateful for his legacy, and I treasure his thought. On top of my Bisley filing cabinet stands a framed photo of him, reminding me of his self-exile and his years of isolation [2]. Karamanlis was not an easy character, and he admittedly had very few friends; a choice that – according to him – denuded him of “weaknesses” during his years of power.

What was Karamanlis afraid of? In my opinion, Karamanlis had no time for bullshit. He knew that he had to define the limits of his interaction with his political allies, his colleagues, his supporters and his relatives, and ensure that none of these interactions would undermine his work or compromise his principles. He knew that people would try to benefit from his power and influence, and he was acutely aware of the mindset that was driving those whom he was destined to govern. He knew that opportunists could neither serve as effective professionals, nor as loyal friends.

In our less important lives, opportunism still sneaks into our professional partnerships and our friendships; it can sometimes constitute a serious challenge for those of us being tight to a firm timetable and obsessed with our work and the principles and standards under which the latter must be delivered. Moreover, identifying an opportunist can be equally difficult to removing him/her from one’s professional or personal circle. In such cases, experience has shown that submitting such individuals through trials could prove very helpful; if they fail in these trials, the situation might actually resolve itself with minimum effort.

If in doubt, it is important to remind ourselves of the need for a trial of such nature to not seek to challenge a colleague for his/her effectiveness, but for his/her loyalty. Similarly, a trial of such nature should not challenge a friend for his/her loyalty, but for his/her effectiveness. It is important to remember that opportunists are neither likely to serve as loyal professionals, nor as effective friends.


Notes: [1]: Konstantinos G. Karamanlis (Κωνσταντίνος Γ. Καραμανλής; 1907-1998) was a Greek statesman who – amongst others – has sealed the European fate of Greece; [2]: a defining period for his political thought and vision (Paris, 1963-1974).

Citation: Zarros A. Post #014: Opportunism. 2017; 31-Dec.