Wasted ambition

This year I will be 47. That means I’ll have been working for 34 years.

When I think back to all the jobs I’ve done, one thing remains constant, namely ambition.

Ambition for what though?

In the early days, my ambition was my lighting rod to enable me to acquire a bushel of things. Largely the variety that came with a high-ticket price, and (I suppose) were meant to represent, to me at least, a degree of success.

As I grew older, and a little wiser I hope, I put aside my thirst for yet another toy, and started to think about the shape of my life by dint of a professional career; namely being the best lawyer in my chosen area.

And, much like my early years, I threw myself headlong into the project. I worked long hours, read everything I could and put myself about. I’ll be honest, I saw the word ‘partner’ writ large and nothing was going to stop me. (I should say that I was never worried about the title per so, so long as I received recognition for my endeavour.)

You may already know the story, or can predict the outcome. That’s right. I didn’t make partner. In my mind I was good enough – hell I’d jumped through enough hurdles – but others, presumably more enlightened that me, decided otherwise. I did try my hand at another firm, but it wasn’t to be. In fairness to them, by the time I could have been considered for the designated role, I was long gone, having been lost to the world of social media.

Why do I tell you all this?

I don’t really know.

But one thing is for certain, ambition wrought in the wrong direction will eventually eviscerate your soul. The real you will disappear before your eyes. Instead of being motivated by the job, you will become fixated with everything else – the money being principal among them.

I’m not suggesting that you completely quell your ambition but instead consider if what you’re doing chimes with the real you. You might think that work is just work but given the amount of time you will spend doing one thing or another, you ought to look at it beyond the hours spent and money in the bank.

I know now that my ambition threw me off kilter. Not only did I end up in a profession where I felt out of place, but I allowed my true self to hide in the shadows, hoping one day that I might resurrect all the things I had left behind to satisfy my ambition.

The thing about ambition is that it’s never satisfied. It always wants more, and if you’re not careful it can ruin your life. Better that you don’t have any ambition and you find your true self, the higher self where you express the real you in all that you do rather than a faux version who hides behind a job title or material wealth.

So my message is simply this. Don’t waste your time on ambition. Instead, follow your heart, do your best work and create a legacy of lasting value.

As for the money, you may care to watch this video by Alan Watts where he asks what if money was no object.

Right now I don’t have the craving to be anything. I show up and do what’s in front of me. If I can create something everyday – a poem, a podcast, a blog or add a few more words to my book – then that is good enough for me.

Enjoy your day, and here’s to a mindful, spiritually enlightened and creative 2014.


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