It’s no surprise that we live in an individualistic culture. I live in and around Los Angeles where your claim to fame is ambition. Sometimes that ambition comes at the expense of others. Ambitions by our definition are pretty selfish. In a world built on scarcity, receiving a job, or promotion means someone else lost out on it. When you think about it, everything we do has a cost. The cities that we live in used to be forests and natures of beauty, but for us to live comfortably, we had to cut down some trees.
Ambition isn’t inherently wrong. It’s great to want more. It becomes a problem when we forget that we are all connected. There are people out there who are willing to find their own success without caring about the livelihood of someone else. We would all have a better chance at success by changing the trajectory of our ambition away from ourselves and onto others.
Ambition Is All About You
The things that we want in the short term can pose a negative effect on us in the long run. Just ask for that double cheeseburger, large fries, and milkshake in a couple weeks. The same thing can be said for our materialistic pursuits. Yes, we want the money, cars, clothes, and everything else we can find in the latest rap music video, but do any of this make us happy? It’s even worse when we look at the material goals that we have, knowing there is a tradeoff between this and the community. There’s a reason why they say that it’s lonely at the top.
Not only do the fruits of our labor like that high salary and status as a leader within an organization come with lower well-being, but it can also ruin our relationships. What’s good if you gain the world if you lose your soul? I’ve seen plenty of people disregard who they are to be beneficial to a company. It’s quite difficult to see people put their worth and identity into something that they do when it’s not completely who they are. No one really talks about the tradeoffs because having ambition and success is all we’re really taught.
Ambition is like popping a can of Pringles, once you start you can’t stop. After you’ve gained your status in the hierarchy, you have to do everything in your power to maintain it. If you do see yourself drop from the high chair, self-worth gets involved. Do you see how much emphasis we are putting on ourselves in the name of success?
Everyone Enjoying Success
To bring this conversation full circle, there is nothing wrong with ambition. Like everything, our intent is what makes something good or bad. If we are in the business of having success for ourselves, we risk alienating ourselves from others. in doing, so we create a culture of winners and losers, and someone has to lose. Just don’t let it be you, right?
Can I provide an alternative? What if we were ambitious about the success of others? Instead of putting the magnifying glass on us, with all the stress and anxiety that comes with that, why can’t we work to make sure the people around us are successful? This is a tide that lifts all boats. Let your motivation not be about you, but everything around you. If not, your ambition will always be at the cost of someone else.