It’s OK to Be Ambitious
You can’t get in great physical shape by doing nothing, by being lazy and unmotivated. So why do we think we can get anything else by doing nothing, by being lazy and unmotivated – but even worse – by being jealous of those who’ve done the work & gotten the results we want?
I start with a confession: I once looked at others who are privileged or successful, and wished I was in their shoes. That is, until I came to the life-altering conclusion that we get what we deserve, we make what we choose to make; nothing more, nothing less.
This is liberating. It frees us to enjoy not only our own success, but everyone else’s success as well, all the while providing us with the realization that if we aren’t where we want to be, it’s because we haven’t done what is necessary to get there – yet.
It’s a lot easier not to hold resentment toward others when you’re successful, but that’s not when you need to get rid of it most. It needs to flee long before your sunny days arrive; instead, we need to get rid of it while amidst our darkest days. Why? This is when our true selves show. In times of tribulation, when we’re struggling, our honor, courage, or lack of either will show.
When we’re at our lowest we have our greatest opportunity to be our strongest, to develop the attitude of self-reliance and hard work, and get rid of the easy, lazy attitudes like jealousy and resentment.
Being jealous is easy. It gives us an excuse why someone else is successful, and we’re not. Jealousy is our inner self rationalizing our lack of success when the truth is that we don’t deserve success, and those who have it do because they worked for it. Period.
Stop crying and start working.
Does that mean the best, brightest people on the planet are making the most money or enjoying the most success? No. There are a lot of ass holes and scumbags rolling in dollar bills. Whether they did it in a good way or in an underhanded way, we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, they did what was necessary to reach the success they wanted. They have, and will have, what they deserve in life. Whether that’s money, success, an empire, or loneliness as they age. They – and we – will be treated as they treat others. They – and we – will be rewarded for what we have given other people – whether that’s value, or a means to earn their keep. We all get what we
And such is the intro to the article…
I’ve been wanting to write this article for some time. What initially gave me the idea for the topic was the occupy movement. Then came the Presidential election in the U.S. and the influx of personal stances I’d see on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t write it then because of both events. People were – and probably still are – blindly passionate about issues they don’t care to read into, and a hate was brewing towards a group of people; a hate I wanted no part of. Plus I didn’t feel like reading comments attacking me personally, or the even more profane emails that I was sure to get.
Now, though, both events are in the past, and I’d like to cover this topic… with a disclaimer.
This isn’t a political article. While politics may have brought this issue to my attention, it wasn’t the actual politicians or their beliefs that irked me, rather the passionate please of some of the public. With regards to politics in the social sense, if you’ve read my articles before, you know I’m old school. I can be a tad archaic in how I think, and how I live my life. However, I don’t feel I have the right to tell anyone else how they can live – in any sense. So I don’t.
In short, don’t get your panties in a knot because of a perceived slight in this article. It’s perceived, not intentional. Disclaimer finito.
What did ruffle my feathers about the occupy movement, and the November election, is the growing hatred and resentment towards the successful. Forget the desire to have the rich give a bigger piece of the pie. Forget about the politics, even the stats for a moment, and think about the mood behind the march. Social programs are awesome, we need them, don’t get me wrong. Corruption is bad, very bad. However, the sheer number of people blindly – and ignorantly – chanting for a bigger piece of the pie, having done nothing to earn it is disheartening. It also echoes the growing resentment of the many towards the few.
And I get it. Many, many people have been screwed by a corporation, even by an investor. But this jealousy and resentment gets us nowhere! We need more people to love innovation, ambition, and success. Without it we’d literally still be in the dark.
Where Would We Be Without Ambition?
Without ambitious, successful, hard-working risk-takers, our society would have nothing. Where many of us lose focus is in seeing where these innovators came from. 85% of all millionaires are self made for shit’s sake! Each of the following revolutionary thinkers didn’t come from a life of luxury, but had to claw, scrounge, and hustle their way to greatness.
Booker T. Washington: a man born into slavery who built over 5,000 schools, became an advisor to Republican Presidents, and founded the National Negro Business League. All he had to work with was a peanut. He added amazing value to society by finding numerous, unheard of ways to make use of simple peanuts.
Steve Jobs: a foster child grew up to become the founder of the biggest and most successful public company the world has ever seen.
Bette Nesmith Graham: a longtime secretary and single mother who became a multi-millionaire and financier of a think-tank aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Guy Laliberte (Cirque du Soleil): a street performer who went on to start an international circus arts performance employing 5,000 people worldwide.
Thomas Edison: a man who was told he lacked creative insight, and failed 10,000 times, who went on to invent the light-bulb and found 14 companies which included General Electric.
The End of Ambition
I’ve used Steven Pressfield’s definition of ambition before, and I’ll use it again. It’s one of the best definitions I’ve ever read. It illustrates just how great ambition is and why we should not fear it, but run toward it.
Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence. ~ Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
Somewhere along the line jealousy took the place of ambition. Where we once praised the ambitious, we now want what they’ve worked and sacrificed for – for nothing. We, as a society, are not only becoming more jealous, but lazier too. Why? Why, all of a sudden, have the masses moved from loving ambition and hard work and praising those who have the balls to follow that little voice that tells them they can have and be something better?
Is it because of tough times? I don’t think so. We’ve had tough times before, and instead of giving up, men and women put their heads down and worked. There’s no single reason for this move toward a hatred of the successful – because that’s what jealousy is, hatred and lust for what they have and we don’t. I want your take on this topic in the comments section.
The Death of Competition
This is at the root of the problem, along with the success of our parents. Like no generation before, the baby-boomers enjoyed much success and prosperity. The children they raised were given a lot. They now expect a lot. And by given, I mean given, not rewarded or paid due to their exceptional work, but given.
Competition, whether in sport, business, even schooling, has slowly disappeared.
Mark Zuckerberg had the idea for Facebook. He then took every necessary step and risk to make it what it is today. Same with Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. Same with Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie, and Bill Gates. Idea + hard work + risk + a bit of luck and timing, and in time, they’re billionaires.
They faced a lot of competition on their rise. It’s competition that made them great, and made their service great. But in our schools, competition is a dirty word. Participation is becoming its replacement. It isn’t the strongest, smartest, hardest-working person who wins, and earns praise for winning, but the lazy kid who doesn’t care to work hard who will be rewarded for merely participating. .
This attitude has gone from our classrooms into the real world. People don’t want to work, they simply want.
Hundreds marched, carrying signs like “the 90%”, screaming “Why do they deserve to have all of that money?! They should share!” I realize that I’m focusing on a few. But there’s a rising resentment in local pubs and social circles that calls for more, with less done to deserve that more.
We’re getting lazier, less ambitious, and less focused instead of the opposite, when what we need is unbridled ambition and a sickening work ethic to succeed, it’s becoming unpopular to have it. Vacations are monthly, bought on money we don’t have.
Hard work needs to be cool. Laziness, and the jealousy that somehow comes with it, instead, is.
Success should never be the enemy. The moment success isn’t praised, we all lose. The moment we don’t praise hard work and results over participation and simply showing up is the day we all suffer.
Be ambitious. The world needs more ambitious, hard-working people. We need more innovators, creative minds, and risk-takers. We need more businessmen. Hell, we need more men!
The purpose of this article is to open a different avenue. To start you on a path that will lead to your future success, rather than being jealous of another person’s success. Now, most of the readers visiting this site are ambitious people already. Hopefully this gives you a kick in the ass and propels you to stop complaining – like we all do – and instead work. Whatever your path in life, whatever your dream, goal, or the object of your ambition, respect it enough to give it everything you have to achieve it. I now open the floodgates: your thoughts please…