Is ambition a good thing or a bad thing?

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Is ambition a good thing or a bad thing?


Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on th’ other.

In plays and movies, ambitious people are usually the bad guys. Ambitious women are absolutely evil. So evil that nobody wants to be around them.

What does ambition mean? It means that you don’t care about the important things. It means you care more about getting ahead than about your kids or your wife or husband. More about yourself and the idea that you could be seen as important than anything else.

Is ambition sometimes a good thing? Well, if you’re a lazy sloppy drunk and then you decide to start doing something with your life, maybe you decide to become the mailman or you decide to be a banker or deliver groceries to old people, that’s a good thing, the ambition is working for you. And then that isn’t enough, you want to do something bigger. You want to work for Greenpeace, you want to support your wife and children, you want to travel to Africa, you want to buy yourself your first real car, you want to clean the house, you want to start combing your hair and brushing your teeth, you want to be the kind of decent person that someone would invite over to their house for the weekend.

The kind of ambition that’s really bad is when you’re willing to start killing people to become king of Scotland, when you’re willing to pour poison in King Hamlet’s ears while he sleeps, when you’re willing to like about your co-workers to get ahead.

The ideal amount of ambition is hard to measure. Enough to move a person ahead in their life while not trampling on other people. Enough to care for your loved ones. But not enough to spend all your time working for your loved ones instead of spending time with them.

I do not consider myself to be ambitious. I have not tried very hard to do much in my life. It hasn’t exactly been a drifting life, but I have enjoyed raising my kids, worked at the discipline of writing but not because I don’t take writing seriously, I absolutely do, it’s just that I do not write to get ahead. Or to achieve anything except a level of mastery and excellence. That’s all the ambition I need.

I made some attempt to be a good mom, but being a mother is a lot of fun. And a lot of work. Ambition is in all the books as something that causes the hero’s downfall. I do want to be a hero in my own life.

Published in: on September 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ambition used in the right way is a good thing. I am ambitious and I love my family they come first. My ambitions do not run my life, but help make it fuller and keep me charged.

  2. ambition is good,it gives us the straight to accomplish our goals,it helps us to move forward and to surpass the daily challenges so ambition could not be bad. it’s a person who could be bad,greedy,selfish…
    those people aren’t ambitious they just like to posses more than they actually need the only thing that they think of is themselves
    so this financial crisis is caused by those kind of people.

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