Why Ambition Is Nothing More Than a Willingness to Fail
You’ve probably heard the words “ambitious” and “ambition” quite a few times throughout your life.
It might have been from your parents, telling you how that’s something you should strive to be, or maybe from your teachers who also gave praise to all these kids who said how they are going to be the next president of the United States.
And at the end of the day, you probably have some dreams and ambitions of your own, to which you are dedicating your whole life.
Either big or small, they are important to you because you were taught that you should have something important like that to guide you on your way to success.
The number of situations and contests that follow around this concept is skyscraper high.
You have been surrounded by it since you can remember, maybe exactly the way it says in the examples, so you probably have an idea what an “ambition” and “being ambitious” means.
REALITY CHECK – WHAT AMBITION REALLY IS
If you asked the dictionary, it would say that ambition means “an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment”.
And, if you wanted a little more clear distinction about what it means to actually be ambitious, it would say something by the following words: “having the ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal”.
These definitions are quite a hard pill to swallow, having considered the mere way that they are put together, and thankfully, there is an example of a definition that is probably way more relatable.
So, if you asked Urban Dictionary, scrolling after a few tasks similar to the earlier ones here, you would have come across something like this: “What drives a man to achieve failure with greater speed than had he just let fate run its course” or “The need to let others know how self-important one is”.
Ah, now we’re getting to something!
Being ambitious comes to basically mean the following: “Trying hard to take on a goal of some kind (the goal is usually way too hard to accomplish and the ambitious person usually ends up only half-way there”. Sounds way more familiar, right?
TAKING YOU BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
It can be said that being ambitious is something that during your life has a very significant place in the act of deciding what do you want to do.
Maybe you naturally are prone to have big dreams and ideas that must be achieved. Since you were little you wanted and planned all these things.
Or you really weren’t born with it, but it seems like that is the key to success that everyone implies you should have (or, hopefully not, forcing you into becoming that).
Maybe you were just generally simple and indifferent, but older and wiser have shown you the way of ambition.
Want to get a job after school? Make sure you get a degree either way. Getting near the end of your Bachelor’s degree? Make sure you are getting ready for the Master studies. And when you are already that far, why not just do the Ph.D. too.
You’d be crazy not to want more, bigger, and better. And not just in school. For example, when you start building your house, you should feel inspired to be ambitious about that too, make it sky-high.
It is commonly believed how all the people who have their names underlined as important in some sphere, started exactly from being ambitious to get to such a high point.
They always had something that forced them to go, and that something should be felt in the form of pure instinct.
Well, instincts are something that is given to us by nature (quite literally, since they stayed with us since the earliest people lived exclusively in nature) but being ambitious can be brought up to you in different ways.
Maybe your parents are lawyers, or doctors, or engineers with great careers and it was always expected from you to be ambitious just enough to get to their point.
Or, on the other hand, they were nothing of the above, so it was on you to get your family heritage to that point.
So, naturally, it is believed how that is something very good and quite important to have since it gives you all these good things. Nothing bad can come from having an ambition or two.
Ambitious people are the people we tend to look up to, ambitious people are the ones who are worth looking up to.
Everyone knows that, and everyone teaches you that. You grow up believing that that is what you should be doing and having, and you do everything to achieve it. Making yourself creating plans and ideas for the future by default.
Frankly, when you are shown the results that came to be from being ambitious, it really does seem it is the main trait you want to develop in your life.
It is giving you a sense of safety because it is something that will make you want to provide a good life for yourself.
And not only will it make you do that, but it will also make sure that you never cease wanting to provide.
Also, a sense of stability, because you will constantly have something in front of you to keep you going, and as such a constant, it will prevent you from going chaotic and being lost and confused and just everywhere except “your journey” which you need to work on.
Why would ever cross anyone’s mind that there’s a problem with this?
WHAT NO ONE TOLD YOU ABOUT, AND YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE
Being ambitious can be considered a product of capitalism if you think of it as a tendency to want more, bigger and better.
This mindset is what age of capitalism that we live in endorsed as a typic consumerist’s mindset.
In order to achieve more, you too must be more. You must think of more ideas, you must sign up for more projects, you must have much more significant experiences lined up in your resume, and way more working hours.
The only thing you need to have less is sleep and peacefulness of course.
In order to get better, you absolutely must get bigger. Your name must get bigger in your sphere of work, you must drive a bigger car and rent a bigger apartment so not only you but everyone else can get to know that you got your ambitions going.
In order to become stronger, you have to get hard on yourself with that deadlifts.
Never forget to always make yourself do more and bite on bigger than you think you can swallow so you achieve the stronger level, and never stop the cycle.
The main point here would probably be exactly the fact that the cycle never breaks.
At first, it seems ambition is a completely healthy disposition, something stable that keeps you going.
However, the problem with it is that it’s just like addiction. It simply never stops.
You achieve more only to then achieve a new measure of more.
That itself is a form of failure. The concept has failed and you don’t really have a chance to succeed because how can you succeed if there is not a final point, so in that sense you can be doomed to a failure on which you will work on. For eternity.
But then again, it is how you become important and financially stable and successful, when you are ambitious to do exactly that, right?
AMBITION LEADS TO INCOME-OUTCOME DEPENDANCY WHICH LEADS TO FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT
There’s a thin line between something being an ambition, and something being an expectation.
Maybe the line doesn’t even exist at all.
Both having ambitions and having expectations seem to be the quite normal human thing to do, but when you put your ambitions in the wheel of modern fast life, they become too much.
And still to this point no one has considered your side of the story.
Because if you are gonna achieve what is expected of you doesn’t really depend on what and how much you dream about, it depends on were you ready for such an assignment to start with.
That has to lead us to something which turns out to be the main idea revolving around the meme humor of today’s young adults that also has its entrepreneurial aspect.
The fact that you were once overly fed with ideas about what you should be and what should you do, that anything you do seems to be a failure.
Like that classic example where a person says how when they were little, they were the best in class and overachieving in every single after school activity, only to now be students who are at best mediocre and don’t know what to do with all that guilt and disappointment.
If we put into consideration that you absolutely do live in the 21st century, chances are that your dreams from once upon a time morphed into something you at this point don’t even like.
That happens because you were forced to do million not so enjoyable things which in some way mandatory.
You may have had an idea, a dream, but you set your goals around them way too high, unrealistically unable to achieve, and of course, everything you did about them never really got much far. So then you felt like a failure, a person who will just go on with no goals done.
To be precise, you can go to two different ways: be depressed or become anxious.
Sound too rough?
Too tough of a statement? It would certainly be nice if it was. But it’s not, it’s literally where we stand as a society today.
A number of anxious people rises by the day, and what’s in common to all of them is that they constantly feel nervous and guilty in advance, because they are sure that they will fail and not live by the expectations they have for themselves, or that others have of them.
Also, depression is the second most common cause of disability in the world, and the suicide rates are also worryingly high. Depression is a mental disorder in which the person gets completely passive and has no will to live whatsoever.
As implied, it is very possible that everything of this is a consequence of the lifestyle in which you are prohibited to step back and take a time out.
Because if you do, you’re simply kicked out, and the only door that will open for you is the one underneath your feet.
What do you think, do people under such pressure work better and more efficient? Do they get more work done? Do they do the work better? You must think they do because they have to, right? But, do you?
The answer to all of these would hopefully be a no.
What happens is that people will underperform, if not right away then at some point absolutely.
Slowly, the brain you need for completing your tasks becomes too involved with saving itself from the stress.
But why is it that you should have “hopefully” said no to all these questions? Because developing anxiety as a consequence of high pressure and stress is basically just a normal human reaction to a not so normal situation.
The thing is, if you worked with perfectly normal performance while being surrounded by nothing but unrealistic expectations and a crowd that couldn’t give less about having people burnout, it would probably be an indicator of you not being very well to start with.
All of these things are not only a source of underperforming but also a source of disabilities. You overwork yourself until you become unfit to do any work at all.
AMBITION IS A BURDEN THAT CAUSES YOU TO SLOWLY GET TO THE BREAKING POINT
It is because of all these things that if you started with having ambition, and tried to do something to achieve it, in 21st century, you have at the same time bought yourself a one-way ticket to failure.
Being ambitious and having dreams isn’t really something that to this day keeps human beings happy and enthusiastic.
If you have a dream, chances are capitalism has made a billion of obstacles you must first overcome until you get just a bit closer to living it. The market advertises it as if it is in the palm of your hand.
For example, you really wanted really to be the president or come close to it. You had a dream of making the world a better place, and you were full of ambitions while everyone around you was full of expectations.
But now, after studying for this for years, because you were told that’s how you do it, you are constantly diving deeper into debt and stress. You go to therapy, your cognitive capacities start depending on medication.
Of course, getting help is okay, but it’s much better to prevent the need for it in the first place.
And that’s where you see that when you signed up to have a dream and made that dream the main priority that keeps you going, you also got a free, infinite, sample for feeling like a disappointment.
AMBITION AND AN AMERICAN DREAM
You may think now how there probably are many people who had dreams and were ambitious enough to do anything in order to make them come true, and actually did make them come to reality.
You would absolutely be right. Yes, there are people who decided to stay in their chosen lane after years of overwork, despite everything.
Yes, you can see the results loud and clear in front of them, but when dealing with your inner wishes, you don’t turn to the front of yourself, don’t you?
You turn inwards to yourself and decide what you feel and was it all worth it.
You probably realize that it is anything but worth it. First, you had an idea and that was kind of okay at the time.
Then, you were forced to be floating around all these duties which drain you, and now, you have to be stuck with that thing for your whole life.
That thing that once made you happy and full of hope, the thing that you believed will be your safe space in the world. Now, every association you have with your “dream” is everything you wished you never had.
It is inevitable that this will happen.
When you get this big idea and the world we live in gives you a thousand stressful ways to make it real and hypes you up. It won’t make it real, it will turn it to a polar opposite of your starting idea.
And like that, you will be sure to fail. In the process which mostly takes years, you will gain nothing but a build-up of expectations that would not be possible to live up to even in the wildest dreams of yours.
When led by something that is not achievable, you have no other road than the one that’s a highway to failure.
It’s called the American dream and all of us have been taught to chase for it. Big house, green lawn, beautiful wife, cute kids, and decent salary. No such luck. It’s fabricated by the society to keep you spinning that wheel and producing income for those in power.
We’ve all been raised by media and led to believe that we can do everything we put our minds to and that we’ll be heroes, scientists, artists, and Hollywood stars, that the world is ours. Well how many people can say that it happened to them?
Most of them just end up waiting in a restaurant or something. If you can’t wake from the American dream, your ambition may just start generating frustration and nightmares.
Besides, we were taught exactly what to dream.
Our attention has been carefully directed towards the values they want us to worship so that the capitalist’s wheel keeps spinning. We’ve been made into zombie-consumers.
Get out of that matrix asap and direct your ambition towards waking up!
That’s the only ambition that will do you good. There are many people out there who make 6, 7 or 8 figures.
How many of them are truly free and have peace of mind?
Not that many, probably. Redirect your ambition towards what really counts.
DEALING WITH THE WILLINGNESS TO FAIL
Don’t make ambitions out of your dreams. Don’t be fooled that you have to go big and over the top to make it.
You will be way more satisfied with your life, and ergo more successful in your job and everyday life if you just have simple little ideas, day by day.
The present is all you really have to take enjoyment from, so don’t lose years of it by taking the stairs that are spiraling only to one direction – down. The future will come whatever you do or not do.
So make sure you have memories, and not failed expectations to bring to it.
As we’ve discussed, when we say “ambition” in terms of capitalistic regime, we mean materialism, superficiality, megalomania, and vanity. That’s why being merely humble can be the cure for the modern-day ailment of market-fabricated ambition designed to distract you and see you fail.