be ambitious of true honor and of the real glory and perfection
of our nature is the very principle and incentive of virtue; but
to be ambitious of titles, place, ceremonial respects, and civil
is as vain and little as the things are which we court.
is a fascinating topic. When I search for quotations
about it, I find just as many that say that ambition is a
terrible thing as I find that say that ambition is a
wonderful thing. I read about how ambition helps us to
push ourselves and strive to be more than we are, and I read
about how ambition warps us when we have ambition to be
powerful or wealthy or famous.
the positive side, if I want to be a better teacher I can
show ambition by reading all the books I can on teaching and
classroom strategies and pedagogical techniques in order to
grow and develop as a teacher. I can have the ambition
to become a better runner, a better writer, a better friend,
a better husband, and that ambition can guide me to improve
myself in these areas.
the other hand, if my ambition is to be famous, I may get
so caught up in the ambition that I take shortcuts in
order to get there--I may hurt other people if I face
difficult choices that could mean getting closer to or
further from my ambition. If my ambition is so
strong that it's more important than the hearts and
spirits of the other people in the world, then my ambition
can harm me or even destroy me--if I let it.
I think of ambition, I think of the wise sages who have not
been tempted by societal definitions of "success,"
preferring rather to find their own ways in life and to
define success on their own terms. So many of the
silly things we do in life, we do because we're trying to
impress other people; imagine what life would be like if we
didn't ever do things to impress others, but just did them
because we knew they were right, and didn't do things
because we knew they were wrong. If those were our
major motivations always, then it's possible that ambition
wouldn't even enter the picture.