Jay Rifenbary

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Ambition - A Motivation to Excel

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When you hear someone is ambitious, what comes to mind? Do you evaluate it positively or negatively? Do you see it as a self-centered and egotistical attribute, or one that is selfless and thoughtful? What is the motive behind ambition? Is it to serve and elevate the self, or an outcome that is beneficial to the many? Ambition is critical to a positive future. To be ambitious substantiates a degree of purpose in your life and a willingness to move forward in the development of who you are personally and professionally. Without ambition there is no fuel to power the engine that moves you toward the accomplishment of your goals, and ultimate success. What are your goals, and do they provide ambition for you to succeed? Do you have goals that do not require ambition? It is doubtful, because a goal is the catalyst behind any ambition.

When you wake up each morning do you have something to look forward to? If so, you have a goal and therefore the ambition to see it come to fruition. Ambition is defined as, "an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: the object, state or result desired or sought after." Earnest is the key word defined as, "serious in intention, purpose and effort." Without an earnest desire, what you may have ambition to accomplish is a pipe dream, because you lack the necessary drive to get there.

Unethical ambition is, and has been, one of the most destructive human forces in history. In contrast, ethical ambition is and has been, one of the most powerful forces behind great human achievement. When your ambition is executed by ethical and righteous means, the benefit of your accomplishment will extend beyond the self. There is a fine line between selfless and self-centered ambition, and keeping the eye on that line is imperative to the meaningful and enduring success of that ambition.

Often, when we hear of ambition we tend to think of acquiring possessions, and reflecting on how unscrupulous people may have attained those possessions. However, you can be ambitious about having a happy, harmonious and successful family. You can be ambitious about staying healthy and setting a proper example in all you do. You can be ambitious about being a person of integrity and thoughtfulness. You can be ambitious about having made a positive difference in those around you. Look at ambition as being one of the most energizing and worthwhile attributes you possess. It is not bad to strive for something you desire and believe in. It is only when ambition blinds the soul and tarnishes the heart that negative consequences occur, and a society is damaged. Without those with ambition for freedom, equality, justice, peace and human rights the world would be a different place.

There are many figures historically and present day who had and have evil ambitions. I am hopeful there will always be those who defeat those who have that propensity toward evil. Celebrate being ambitious for goodness. Encourage and support yourself and those who have the ambition to do good things for people and society. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “I would rather be a little nobody, then to be an evil somebody.” The platform for ethical ambition stems from an ethical platform of core values. Honesty, integrity, character, humility are several that personally come to mind. Is what you strive for each day in alignment with the values you believe in? Is the end result only to benefit the self or does it have a greater purpose?

The ambition of others surrounds us each day and do you have the ability to decipher between ambition of goodness and evil? Your frame of reference and the accuracy of your assessment will depend on how you live your own life. What might that self-assessment be? As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” Enjoy the fulfillment of striving for goodness over evil, and take pride in having the ambition to accomplish each goal you set for yourself.



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