'He has always been very ambitious,' we sometimes hear. Such statements always make me wonder how come people make it sound as if it is an important quality. It could be that being ambitious makes one be considered sincere and upstanding, people striving towards something, implicitly important. Yet, being ambitious as such does not necessarily have to be positive. The very nature of our ambitions is the important part which decides to what extent it becomes an oak or a driving force through life. Ambitions driven by a good heart is appreciated, but is it seldom?
Ambitions can for some feel like a chain around the neck. When we do not struggle with ambitions of our own but ambitions which represent expectations from family and society around us, we might feel trapped. Trapped in the sense that we are expected to walk a road we did not select ourselves. If your family for generations have gone to university be sure they expect you to do the same. We are afraid to fail to disappoint those around us so we do it, we live up to those expectations.
Provided your ambitions are exclusively related to self-gain and personal benefits, ambitions can become a pure matter of self-centeredness. “Man is by nature competitive, combative, ambitious, jealous, envious, and vengeful“ Arthur Keith once said. Ambitious often has a negative connotation and can be associated with greed. Sometimes we are ambitious for the wrong reasons. Do we get less ambitious as we get older? Not necessarily. More so, if ambitions are purely a matter of personal gain, we never get satisfied. Much wants more. It creates a spiralling effect.
Individuals, societies, communities and nation states have ambitions. Success, power, wealth all form part of being ambitious. Cities or nation states might have ambitions of economic growth or reduce unemployment. In that sense ambitions can be a positive matter. Individuals do not only have egoistic ambitions. A few also have ethical ambitions and will aspire to live and act with integrity or specific ethical standards. It is an art in a society who requires that you succeed at any price. My ambitions? 'Do to others as you would have them do to you.'