“Do not expect Plato’s ideal republic; be satisfied with even the smallest step forward, and consider this no small achievement.” -Marucs Aurelius, Meditations
The system or industry you’re in might not be a meritocracy. You might find many examples where the best idea or person doesn’t actually win the day.
But don’t let that stop you from doing your best. Work as hard as you can. No stone left unturned. Strive for excellence and generosity in all that you do. Be your own arbiter. Create your own personal meritocracy.