Ambition: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Ambition: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Perhaps no other term is as flexible and controversial, no more flitting between positive and negative connotation, as “ambition”.

When a person is well liked, generous, and successful, ambition is a compliment.  If they are disliked, feared, a politician, or a crook, ambition (“blind ambition”) is an insult.  In other words, ambition, and what to do with it, is all about how you think about the concept of it.

Ambition, used properly, is also known by another term: passion.  Ambition is fuel for the vehicle that will carry you through your career and to your dreams.  It is the driving force in life, and what makes great achievements possible.

In this day and age, with all our modern technology and modern comforts, simply living is not enough.  Gone are the days of sustenance living, when peasants worked for landlords and couldn’t even hope for a better future, let alone stand a chance at achieving one.  Nowadays, something has to be achieved to make’s one life worthwhile.

That’s where ambition comes in.  It’s healthy.

But how do you use ambition properly?  Because, as we’ve seen in countless films and books, ambition can certainly become dark, destructive.  Ambition needs to be curbed and broken down into realistic goals.

Think about what you want in your life. 

Make a dump list of “ultimate achievements.” These can be “be well-off,” “be happy in my career,” “have a PhD,” etc.  Then you should analyze these points and break them down even further.  How much money is “well-off” to you? What career do you think you would be happy in? What subject do you want to achieve a PhD degree in?

Make these goals into bite-sized pieces by dividing them up on a timeline, what should be achieved in 5, 10, and 15 years.

Be selfish in your ambitions, but selfless, as well.

Embrace some people into your ambitions; otherwise, you will walk a dark and lonely path.  Your ambition should inspire you, help you wake up in the mornings, but not totally consume your life, at least not 24/7.  Leave room for recreation, family, friends, and lovers.

The former will keep you sane and the latter will keep you human.

Kindle the fire of ambition.

Make a plan, for each day, week, month.  Have a list of daily tasks.  Hone your discipline by holding yourself accountable for those tasks. Reward yourself upon completion of said tasks.  Reprimand yourself for failure to complete tasks by withholding rewards.  You must reach a point where you associate hard work with reward and can see a direct gain from it.

Then your daily life, from chore to fun things, will seem pleasurable.

Wave away the concept of “fate” or “destiny”.

Ambition is about controlling your own destiny.  External factors can intervene or slow you down, but, ultimately, they can’t stop you.  This belief is essential to finding success.  As they say, if you believe it, you can achieve it, and it’s true. Or, at the very least, all great accomplishments, discoveries, etc. have all started in the same place: in a person’s mind.

Your mind, and the emotions you imbue it with—happiness vs. depression, anger vs. acceptance, defeat vs. hope—will determine the course of your life.

Lastly, a warning.

Ambition is traditionally thought of as a solitary trait, belonging to an age when individualism was more valued and useful than it is today.  The person consumed with ambition ignores society around him/her, is on their own and out for their own, and has no qualms about stepping on a few fingers, or backs, along the way.  The ambitious individual wishes to rise above the group.  That is all well and good (the rising to the top bit), but such thinking tends to manifest in competitiveness.  Competitiveness is healthy, too, but do not let every little thing in life become a competition, and do not think of every single person as a rival.

Should you do so, you might become overwhelmed with jealousy or embarrassment or bitterness should you lose to a competitor or fail to win a “fight”.

To use ambition properly for your success in your career and your life, take the following advice.

Keep calm, work on letting things go when they should be let go, know how to be laid-back, don’t resent people, embrace love, stay organized, and your ambition will take you to grand—and most importantly, happy—places.

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