Some time during the mid-nineties, we decided culturally that ambition was a bad sign in a person. That the seeking of wealth or achievement for its own sake was an indicator of selfishness, or greed, or a lack of awareness of one’s fellow humans. While one hundred per cent of these statements may be true, I think more broadly that we’ve lost sight of something very specific related to the idea of personal achievement.
Ambition isn’t just a feeling of need to achieve or acquire on its own.
It’s a process. Knowing your limits, setting the boundaries – and then trying to expand them. Ambition isn’t achieving a goal; it’s consistently setting newer, higher goals, every time you strike a milestone in your life or work.
- Get a promotion? Start working toward the next one.
- Trade up on homes? Look for things that make the new home better than it was when you got it.
- Finish writing a book? Pick your adventure – write a second one, or make the first one a real killer for sales.
There are all kinds of choice to be had for personal development, but it all comes down to a simple process:
- Deliberate over a goal.
- Decide on achieving the goal.
- Make a plan of action
- Enact your plan until your goal is achieved.
- Deliberate over an advanced goal.
Now, I know this is fairly reductive, but it’s the very motor of personal success. We work hard, we achieve (on our own behalf or on behalf of others), and we move on.
When did this become a bad ideal? Sounds like kaizen to me.