The Nature of Ambition: How Serious Should We Take Ourselves?
Last week, we concluded some thoughts on the nature of ego and the way it affects different individuals’ approach to social entrepreneurship. While we tend to speak of ego usually negatively, I pointed out that at best, it serves as a basic motivating force for us to spring to action – even if some may not like the inherent “selfish” motivation.
Today, my thoughts have been circling around this idea of motivation and its big brother – ambition. Specifically, I have been wondering about how we can reconcile the notion of ambition, which deals by definition with the future, with the notion of being at peace and content with the present. Think about all the Buddhist teachings that encourage us to reject attachment, desire and expectations, in order to diminish or avoid suffering.
I suspect that there is a good number of people in the do-good and social entrepreneurship space today that would identify with Buddhist teachings (or perhaps, not?). If so, would it be ignorant of me to think that if you are a social entrepreneur or consider yourself active in this “social” sector, you probably have a considerable amount of ambition?
And if that is the case, do you have some advice for the Good Generation on how to balance forward-looking “ambition” with present-focused Buddhism? Can you have both? Answering this question may be a non-trivial component of the quest for happiness for many folks out there in the field, fighting the good battle.
What’s further at stake seems to be this: at a time when we keep saying that we need more and more people to engage, to strive, to change the world, we are implicitly saying that we need more people to follow the call of their ambition to make their dreams a reality. Where, then, does this leave us?