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When Does Ambition Become Blind Ambition? When the Price of Success Takes Away Your Joy?

Did you ever hear the expression, "Be careful for what you wish for...?"  The rest is usually not spoken because we all know the completion of that sentence would be, "Because you just may get it."  The underlying meaning also does not escape us; we sometimes want things so badly and we feel if we just get them, then we will be happy.  Alas, we attain what we wished for and found out that it ultimately is not what we wanted or worse, the attainment of that wish led to perhaps our demise! 


Certainly if we are hungry and living on the streets, then clearly wishing for food and a roof over our head would probably be outside the guidelines of, "Be careful for what you wish for!" It is the same difference where the road of ambition and blind ambition seem to part, that small fork in the road that MOST take unknowingly and by accident that can lead us in the wrong direction.  You see, we missed the turn and thought we were still on the main road to our correct destination.  We are enjoying the ride, the conversation, the distractions along the way and we feel we are on course; we are speeding along, focused on arriving at our destination mile by mile as each marker passes, by gosh we are even ahead of schedule!  We are ambitious and life is good.


Sometimes, if we are lucky, we begin to notice little things along the way that begin to make us feel uncomfortable in our journey, little warning signs and uneasy feelings.  As those feelings grow and mount we begin to realize, "Oh no, I am lost!  I am heading in the wrong direction, how did this ever happen?  How long have I been heading in the wrong direction?"  For some of us, we arrive at the destination of our original desire and, at first, it IS the place where we want to be and always hoped for!  Often, that feeling erodes over time or sometimes quickly and we begin to think, "How could I have have ever picked this place out?  It sure doesn't look or feel ANYMORE like the original promise eluded to in the the fancy brochure!".  Yet, this location still gives you some satisfaction and you are not ready to give it up...yet.


You see, there are still some nice things in this spot, maybe a little fame, a lot of prestige, great food, maybe the best schools, it provides a lavish lifestyle, but yet something is missing.  No, let's not think about that, afterall we worked our whole life to arrive here, but yet, we feel the tug; deep down we know the price of attainment has been high.  What has the price been so far?  So stressed you feel like you are always on a treadmill?  Maybe not seeing the kids other than a few hours a week when you are exhausted and zombie like?  How about missing that play they were in or their awards night? Maybe a spouse that you don't know anymore? Perhaps a divorce or two?  Perhaps you are further down the road and you missed the kids growing up and it is too late, they are now adults.  Maybe you had a passion or goal in your life not related to work at all, yet you have never had the time to pursue it.  You realize you took the road of blind ambition and the price of that toll road was very expensive indeed; your joy.  The joy that comes from having balance in your life, with work complimenting your family and personal life, not taking from it. 


How many time have you heard yourself or another person say, "I have a successful career but it has taken away from my family and personal life?"  Was that your intent in life when you started your career? A job that would take away everything else that most people hold dear?  In the end, the job and career goes away and you are left with what you have built your whole life.  If your job has become your life, you know what you end up with when you retire or the job leaves you....nothing.


So just where is that fork in the road?  How does one stay centered upon the healthy road of Ambition?  Perhaps we should first visit the Websters Dictionary to define ambition:


Ambition; 1. a strong desire to gain a particular objective; the drive to succeed, or to gain fame, power, wealth, etc. 2. the objective strongly desired.


OK, what's wrong with that, nothing...right?  So when does the "blind" come in?  Maybe when we begin to see nothing BUT the road of Ambition in front of us; we were so distracted as we sped along enjoying our journey that we didn't SEE that small fork in the road. It was hardly noticeable at the time, it was just a small little lane that looked like it was part of the main road yet, if taken, would lead us to a different destination than the one intended.  The changes in the scenery are so subtle in the beginning that we are often not aware of the misstep, afterall we are now on the road of Blind Ambition; the road that centers upon our own desires at the expense of everything and everyone around us.


Sure, we tell ourselves and others that we are, "Doing it for the family and a better life."  "Hey babe, I am doing it for US!"  In truth, we stop looking at others along the road, the scenery along the way, we have become the race horse with the appropriately termed "blinders" on so we can fully and ONLY fixate upon our destination; the finish line, hitting the goal and accomplishing our win at the expense of everyone and everything.  Often when we win the race on the road of Blind Ambition it doesn't feel good.  Outwardly successful to everyone, or almost everyone, yet inwardly the joy has slipped slowly from your life little by little; you begin to realize the high price of this earned success.


So when does Ambition become Blind Ambition?  Perhaps when you begin to turn a blind eye to the amount of time that new job or promotion may take away from those close to you.  Maybe it is when you want something so badly you begin to cut corners or start doing things in the grey area (not illegal, but you know it is not the right thing to do).  Perhaps we can simply add another line after Websters Definition of Ambition to define Blind Ambition; when a strong desire to gain a particular objective; the drive to succeed, or to gain fame, power, wealth IS AT THE EXPENSE of everything else that should matter MORE to you in life; it's purpose

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved

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Comment by BARRY BOLLINGER on September 6, 2011 at 9:50am

Thanks...i liked Anita's post.


Comment by Linda Hertz on September 6, 2011 at 9:32am

Thank you Barry, interesting because I always ponder on what my next article should be about and sometimes writing one article leads to another.  I thought this article my touch upon those that are probably workaholics (great people who are driven by extreme ambition) and take those promotions and then time for family life is almost non-existent.  I found myself in that pattern before all the kids were gone.  I did not want to interject faith into my article, I leave that up to Anita Onarecker, but her faith oriented pieces find their way into my thinking; you may enjoy this one: By Anita given your comments.  It is a Christian perspective but I welcome those of different faiths to also give there perspective....I am going to write the Over 50 category piece before the end of this week that I have in mind. 


Thank you for giving me more thoughts on that topic Barry.


Comment by BARRY BOLLINGER on September 6, 2011 at 9:11am

Interesting topic.  When our family grows up & leaves, and our spouce dies...the temptation

is to spend all that time on work now.  

...but it's a trap.  as i get older, i want to know more about God...cause i'm getting closer & closer to
HIM.   i think to trick has to do with Peace...and i haven't had that for years...but i'm tryiing!

thanks for post Linda...



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