I have had numerous friends tell me, in the light of my own career hustle, that they are not ambitious.
‘I just want to be married and have a family life,’ a few have told me.
‘I don’t have any specific ambition. I just want to work in a big company and make lots of money,’ a few others have said.
The irony of the second one and the current day disregard for the first, and the fact that my ‘ambition’ looks a whole lot different makes me wonder what ambition does and should really mean.
The standard definition of ambition from the internet is: ‘an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.’
My favourite part is ‘an earnest desire’ because it gives me the sense of a calling, something you feel so strongly about that it drives you to focus all your energy on that thing.
I won’t go any further in the definition because I don’t believe ambition is necessarily tied to power, honor, wealth or fame. The majority of people find fame unattractive and scary, and rather not be the president of a bank or country. Making a lot of money is of course many people’s driver but that is always only a means to an end, so saying we are eager to be wealthy doesn’t give a clear, full picture.
So let’s keep the definition as: ambition is an earnest desire. I will even be so bold as to remove the ‘some type of achievement’ part because that is just superfluous. No one can ever go a day without achieving something, and here begins my ramble:
Getting to work on time is an achievement, making a good breakfast is an achievement, clearing your bowels and bladder so that you can walk and sit comfortably is an achievement, realising your weaknesses is an achievement, enjoying a night out with friends is an achievement, not getting soaked in a thunderstorm is an achievement, watching your favourite show on TV is an achievement, saying thank you for a kind act is an achievement, sitting alone for 20 minutes doing nothing is an achievement. Have you gotten the point yet?
Let me try again…
I believe every person has an/some earnest desire(s). This comes as a result of humans not just being a body and a brain, but also a soul and a spirit. The non-physical parts of your body are actually what come to define you, the feelings that you cannot explain are what result in your most important actions, and it is with these parts that your logical mind and simplistic flesh will be in conflict all your life.
Your earnest desire is the underlying influence on your routine and choices. So if you choose to train for the Olympics it is because you desire the specific make up of results and consequences that come from doing so. If you decide to stop playing sports in your mid-teens, to enjoy it leisurely and on television rather than devoting your life to it, you desire the specific combination of sensations and benefits you get from this. Same thing goes for if you aim to be CEO of a corporation, a self-sustained entrepreneur or an employee. As human beings we always intrinsically know the likely outcomes of certain things and we choose them because we eagerly desire those things.
So everyone is ambitious because everyone has an earnest desire and fulfills it by making choices appropriate for him or her.
If we recognise this then we will be more tolerant because we won’t scorn fat people because they ‘aren’t ambitious enough to lose weight’ or poor people because ‘they aren’t ambitious enough to make more money’ or house wives because ‘they aren’t ambitious enough to create their own career and source of income’ or manual, menial-task workers because ‘they aren’t ambitious enough to get an education’ or colleagues who stick to the status-quo because ‘they aren’t ambitious enough to influence and enforce change’. The list goes on. Really anytime we judge a person for not being the way we think they should be we are implying that they are not ambitious enough to make their lives different, and ‘better’.
To my friends who said in the past ‘I am not ambitious’, I say in response, ‘honey you are absolutely ambitious’ because you are living a particular sort of life that suits you.
I myself recently began to say that I had lost all the ambition that I had as a young(er) person because I no longer care to climb the ranks of a top organisation or have anyone screaming my name in awe or do everything I could to make enough money to build a bespoke-designed house. I used to want to be an orthopedic surgeon, save the world, while also having an amazing-looking arm-candyman, and being madly articulate.
In contrast, now all I earnestly desire is to be really good at what I love to do so that I can support myself sustainably, whether that is in the form of owning a small social enterprise, living cheaply in a rural area and serving others, or running a farm (always an exciting option).
So get on with your life and stop thinking it needs to be any different or you need to work harder or get more results or be more beautiful or have more. Be more tuned into your eager desire, come to understand it, and appreciate that you are exactly where you are meant to be as a result of you fulfilling your daily ambition.
Let’s put an end to all the divisive and comparative talk. NOW!
Do you know what your eager desire is? Have you ever been guilty of calling yourself unambitious or MORE ambitious than someone else? How do you pay attention to your eager desires and how do you fulfill them?