This is week sixteen of the Season on Flourishing.
After our week of living simply, we turn now to examine ambition. They might seem like opposed concepts, but I encourage you to think about how they can be reconciled. There is much in life which is not addressed by a narrow focus on the peace of mind which comes from simplicity. Much that can be gained by engaging with its more active counterpart.
Ambition is often maligned. We sometimes think of ambitious people as selfish, destructive people who will ride roughshod over others. But ambition is also the wellspring of all the great (or even mildly good) achievements of humanity. Ambition is striving to make things better than they were, to bring beauty into the world, to exercise the energies of a full and flourishing life. Ambition can carry one through turmoil and difficulty to heights one could never have reached otherwise. We need ambition, both to build the lives we want, and to contribute meaningfully to the world.
I recognize that the quality of the content on this blog has varied pretty wildly. Sometimes our ambition outstrips our ability (or at least the price we are willing to pay to realize our ambitions). But failing to completely realize one’s ambitions is not the end of the world. Sometimes the half-built enterprise is still worthwhile. I hope you find this project, whatever its faults, worth something.
● Check out this scholarly article on “The Causes and Consequences of Ambition.”
● Remember that, like all character traits, ambition has its excesses and its costs.
● Sit down and reflect on your goals in life. Are they ambitious enough? Too ambitious? What are you going to do to consciously shape the life you want? Now stand back up and get going.
Have other ideas about how to observe this week? Let us know!