Ambition gets no respect. It’s hard to respect something that you don’t understand.
Many hold ambition as a drive to succeed that causes those driven to do whatever it takes to win, including stab people in the back. For many, ambitious people are not to be trusted. Yet we also know that ambition is something we all ought to have, but why? Especially when we don’t even know what ambition is. Most of us are never guided through the process of crafting our ambition and at most are only urged to “Have some ambition dammit!”
Very few are lucky to have someone actually teach them Ambition: What it is, is not and how to craft one.
What Ambition is not
Ambition is not what most people think: ”A drive to succeed, rise to the top or get ahead.” That drive is a sign that ambition may be present but it’s not proof of ambition. It’s like saying that someone is religious, because they go to church every day; when really all that we can really say is that the person goes to church every day. We have no idea whether they actually practice what their religion teaches.
So it is with ambition. Working hard to put food on the table or to make your boss happy doesn’t mean you have ambition. Similarly working hard to get promoted may not be a sign of ambition so much as doing what your parents or society expects of you. Some of the hardest working people I know have no ambition.
What Ambition is
Ambition is your personal story about your future, about what you are creating with your life in life’s important domains e.g. health, family, finance and work. Your story of ambition confronts you with your mortality and how (if) your life matters. Your ambition answers important questions like:
- What do you want your legacy to be?
- Why will you work?
- What kind of work will you do/not do?
- What would you like to achieve with your work?
- What kind of lifestyle do you wish to have?
- How much money is enough?
- How will you nurture your relationship with your higher self?
- Will you have a family? Why?
- What kind of parent will you be?
Ambition is where you get to create your life as a game, with your own conditions of satisfaction and even your own rules (personal ethics).
Your Personal Credo
Your ambition gives the story of where you are going and what you are creating with your life and it should contain a part (your personal credo) that gives your guiding beliefs and principles. Your personal credo defines the kind of person you declare yourself to be.
Some people call your story of Ambition and personal credo your personal manifesto.
Why we disrespect Ambition
You would expect that Ambition (including a personal credo) would provide a person’s basic educational foundation because it would provide the context for all subsequent choices; functioning as a person’s personal constitution—like a country’s constitution, or a company’s articles of incorporation. It would provide the basis to judge integrity and what to do to restore it when he or she acts inconsistently.
It’s not included in education because our basic education is still—at its core—designed to produce factory workers who follow orders and don’t challenge the status quo. The last thing “the Man” wants is people challenging the system.
Ambition’s value comes from its questions
Today’s education system still focuses on answers when it’s the questions that really matter. A practice of Ambition helps a person discover what the important questions are and asking them early enough can help you avoid needless suffering e.g. discovering you’ve spent more than a decade of your life studying for a profession that you hate.
It can also save you tens of thousands of dollars in therapist fees to discover and untangle the conflicting beliefs that you could have avoided in the fist place if you simply had a practice of asking the important questions.
By exploring the important questions for yourself, your story of Ambition allows you to choose personal answers that give much more power and freedom than making decisions based on how you feel, or what society, religion or your parents expect you to do.
Your story of Ambition could spare you much torment in relationship and career.
It’s never too late
But don’t despair. It’s never too late to start practicing Ambition. There is absolutely no value in lamenting lost opportunities, or the past life; just look for the lessons and start inventing the rest of your life.
- What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
- Live it out day by day doing what you always do, until you can’t anymore?
- Or do something different, create something, transform some old and tired relationships in your life?
Today really is the first day of the rest of your life and your story of ambition will determine whether life continues happening to you, or whether you cause some happenings in life.