Some people have ambition while others don’t. But ambition isn’t required for happiness. So, does ambition serve a purpose? Ambition is beneficial when it originates from your own desire. Ambition can be detrimental if it is externally imposed on you by another person.
A common example of externally imposed ambition is a parent’s expectations for their son or daughter. The expectation of the parents may be at odds with what their child desires. When the child grows up and strives to please their parents, the child may feel frustrated and unfulfilled.
Cathy’s father, Ben, was a successful accountant at a major corporation. When Cathy went off to college, Ben pushed her to major in accounting. His motivation was benevolent. Ben felt an accounting degree would allow his daughter to have a secure career.
Cathy did well in school, graduated, and went on to become a CPA. She got a good job which allowed her to live comfortably. The only problem was that Cathy didn’t really like accounting and only went into the field because of Ben’s encouragement.
As a result, Cathy wasn’t happy with her career. She had always wanted to be a teacher. Cathy did not have much ambition as an accountant. As the years passed by, her dissatisfaction with accounting grew. Ben was upset that Cathy wasn’t happy.
Matt was employed as a department manager for a small hardware store. He had worked there for many years, starting right out of high school. Matt never wanted to go to college. He was happy with his life. Matt lived comfortably, liked his job, the people he worked for, and the customers.
Matt’s brother Stan, had taken a different career path. Stan had gone to college, went on to get a Ph.D. and was now a college professor. Stan thought Matt could be doing more with his life and wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions with Matt.
But Matt didn’t care about what Stan or anyone else thought. He was content and didn’t feel any need to change things. One could say Matt lacked ambition. Yet Matt was just as happy, if not more so, as people who were constantly driven to achieve more.
Ambition is good when it is based on your own goals. There is no shortage of those wanting to tell you what they think you should do. People may offer opinions, but you are not obligated to listen to them. You know what you want. You don’t need to be told.
But ambition is only a starting point. You must take action to follow your ambition. If you don’t, frustration or discontent will follow. Ambition without action is useless.
If you have ambition, great. Do what it takes to turn your dreams into reality. If you have no ambition but are happy, that’s also great. But if you are not happy with your situation, it is never too late to fire up your ambition in order to change direction. You will never be as young as you are today. Live you life the way you want to.
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at email@example.com or write him c/o this paper.
© Bryan Golden