In our quest to grow healthier souls we realized we needed to take a hard look at the role “ambition” has played in our lives.
We were surprised to learn that the word “ambition” comes from the Latin word ambitio that literally means “to go around soliciting votes.” Apparently, the word was born in Rome to describe what was happening as politicians canvassed the public during election season.
While ambition has become one of the most prized characteristics of our western culture the dictionary still defines it as “an ardent desire for rank, fame or power.” This strongly clashes with the teachings of Jesus where laying your life down is more valued than advancing it. And therein lies the rub.
How can we work well without unhealthy ambition taking over? (*We’ll be talking about this on The Live True Podcast this week.)
Here are some of our favorite quotes on ambition. We invite you to sit with them as you ponder how ambition is currently affecting your life, relationships, and leadership. Just below that are several good questions for further self-reflection.
1) The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.
― Maya Angelou
2) There was a hunger in me to see everything and do everything. I wanted to be everyone I saw. I wasn’t enough for me. Can you understand that?
― Sidney Sheldon
3) The most important thing for everyone in Gringolandia is to have ambition and become ‘somebody,’ and frankly, I don’t have the least ambition to become anybody.
― Frida Kahl
4) It occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.
― John Green
5) Our ambition should be to rule ourselves…
― Oscar Wilde
6) Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.
7) I’m stressed out, so that must mean I’m achieving something, I’d think to myself on a regular basis. Then I graduated, and the stress continued.
8) Do not let your grand ambitions stand in the way of meaningful accomplishments.
― Bryant McGill
9) Anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition.
― Alain de Botton
10) Happiness never made anyone rich or famous. That must be why ambitious people avoid it.
― Marty Rubin
11) Boys, be ambitious. Be ambitious not for money, not for selfish aggrandizement, not for the evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man can be.
― William Clark
12) Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.
― Viktor E. Frankl
13) To want something desperately, to be tested, to feel that life will be impossible if the object of one’s desires is not achieved, is always dangerous for the soul. Some people attempt to climb Everest because, as they say, it is there; others want nothing but wealth and care little how or where they collect it; others still, with less avaricious tastes – perhaps desiring nothing more than freedom from fear – are blinded by the same personal sun that shines on all human ambition. At some time or another, it burns most of us.
― Bryan Forbes
14) Where ambition and achievement are overvalued, human lives will be undervalued.
― Marty Rubin
15) Ambition strives. At first for goals, until it reaches them. Then for more, because it’s insatiable.
― Renzo Dante
16) Ambition’s ambition is immortality. To create an eternal legacy.
― Renzo Dante
17) The petty man wants to use God for himself; the ambitious man wants God to use him for God.
18) Beware of that demon called ‘Changing The World’.
― Marty Rubin
19) Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky.
20) Perhaps middle-age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
21) Ambition can form an impenetrable barrier for those who fail to acknowledge what they already are.
― Bryant McGill
22) In our need to be somebody, we often forget that we are somebody.
23) The truth is that men’s ambition and their desire to make money are among the most frequent causes of deliberate acts of injustice.
24) The fuel of ambition is not the problem; it is the focus of ambition that frees or betrays us.
― Erwin Raphael McManus
25) Seek active contentment.
26) Ambition without wisdom is inflexibility attaching to a specific goal, even if it means making foolish decisions that conflict with your values, beliefs, intentions, and instincts.
27) The biggest part of ‘waking up’ for me was realizing that my obsession with audacious goals was my way of avoiding the real changes I needed to make, which were broadly around learning to like myself. I want to achieve my goals, but I don’t need them to feel worthy or complete…Waking up begins when you realize that you don’t need to achieve anything specific to be worthy, happy, or at peace.
How much is personal ambition really affecting your life? Take a few minutes to reflect on these questions:
- What am I trying to achieve, and why has it become so important to me?
- To what lengths am I willing to go to in order to attain my goals?
- Do I run over others in my attempts to get ahead? Do I harm or neglect myself or others in order to see my dreams accomplished? Do I steal energy or opportunities from others to advance myself?
- Are my goals and ambitions a true reflection of my most cherished values?
- What will happen if I accomplish my dream? What will happen if I don’t?
- Can I really appreciate what I have right now and what I have already achieved?
Check out these further Resources:
This post was authored by Caron Loveless