The 7 Best Jobs for Ruthless People

Joaquin Phoenix as a ruthless leader in 'Gladiator'

Joaquin Phoenix as a ruthless leader in ‘Gladiator’ | Dreamworks

Do you liken yourself to Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great? Do you possess an inner drive that allows you to step over your enemies and friends alike, all in an effort to achieve your goals and crush your adversaries? It can be a blessing and a curse — or a sign that you’re a total sociopath. Either way, there are some people out there who are generally just ruthless, and they bring that attitude with them to work each and every day.

To make it to the top of any profession, a certain level of ruthlessness is needed. You need to be able to take risks without fear, and to cast people aside when they’re no longer serving you. Many people are too sensitive or emotional to do it, and as a result, remain stuck or cornered into certain roles.

But the ruthless? The ruthless won’t, or can’t, be stopped. And there are certain roles or jobs that only these types of people are suited for.

What it means to be “ruthless”

Ruthlessness, in this case, can mean a number of things. Cold-blooded, or cold-heartedness, for example. The ability to detach oneself from their emotions, which allows them to do or say things that might otherwise have been restrained. Ruthlessness is closely tied to psychopathy, in that a psychopath exhibits certain behavior traits — an inflated ego, a lack of empathy, and callousness, for example — that can allow someone to operate with an elevated level of ruthlessness.

Of course, being ruthless doesn’t mean you’re a psychopath, but there is some overlap.

So, what jobs or roles is ruthlessness ideally suited for? Or, where can your ruthlessness take you? Here are seven jobs that you may not be able to get without being ruthless, and that having a sense of ruthlessness is essential to if you plan on being successful.

1. Lawyers

A woman listens to her attorney during a hearing | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

A woman listens to her attorney during a hearing | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The legal field is notoriously competitive, and because of that, only the strong and ruthless manage to make it in, and stay there. Once you’re actually in the field, you won’t be able to let up, either. Ever wonder what it’s like being the guy who has to defend some of the country’s worst criminals and defendants? It takes a different type of mindset, one that allows you to put emotion and empathy aside for time.

2. Business executive

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, is notorious for being a major jerk. He was mean and shrewd, but incredibly and undeniably successful. His ruthlessness is what helped him build Apple into the company it is today, even though it earned him a tough reputation among his employees and professional rivals. CEOs across the board need to be ruthless, because the job absolutely requires it.

3. Sales

A car salesman shows a client available models

A car salesman shows a client available models | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Most of us absolutely abhor dealing with sales people, especially when making big-ticket purchases. We despise going to car dealerships or walking into a Comcast store. The sales people swarm, and — as you may have noticed — can be rather ruthless in trying to make a sale. They often don’t care if the product they’re pushing is what we actually need, they’re trying to close.

4. Politics

Politician Ted Cruz enjoys a tasty treat

Ted Cruz enjoys a tasty treat | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Just take a look at the look on Ted Cruz’s face in the photo above and try to pretend that he’s not as ruthless as any other politician. If you’ve seen House of Cards, or any other political drama, there’s one underlying theme to most of the characters: They’re ruthless, and will do anything and everything it takes to get what they want. In government, that’s usually power — and power is often taken, rather than handed over.

5. Law enforcement

A smiling police officer

A smiling police officer | iStock

Police officers, sheriffs, prison guards, etc. — they all have a reputation for being hard-nosed, tough, and, in a word, ruthless. In one sense, they have to be. They’re dealing with society’s worst elements, and they have to be able to divorce their emotions from their work. But it often backfires, as we’ve seen with the huge number of unjustified or questionable shootings and beatings that have hit the media over the past several years.

6. Media

Jeff Daniels in 'The Newsroom'

Jeff Daniels in ‘The Newsroom’ | HBO

While many media figures seem to be nothing more than teddy bears or lap dogs, it does take a shred of ruthlessness to make it to where they are. Every so often, you’ll see a reporter or anchor take a politician or CEO to task during an interview, knowingly embarrassing them or making them look bad. But that’s the job, and you’re not going to be able to do it without some killer instincts.

7. Surgeon

Surgeons hard at work

Surgeons hard at work | iStock

Surgeons need to have a little Machiavelli in them. It’s an incredibly tough profession and one that takes years of disciplined training to earn a spot in. And you won’t get there unless you’ve got a pretty ruthless attitude. Like many other disciplines, surgery requires a strong sense of self-confidence, and the ability to make tough, emotional, and steel-nerved calls on the fly.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

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