The Way I See It #42 : By Darren Murphy

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AMBITION, a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.

At least that’s the dictionary definition of ambition, but my own views herald an entirely different thesis for the Molotov cocktail of emotions connected to having an ambitious mindset.

It’s important to hold aspirations and set yourself goals in life, of course it is. Where would some of the world’s most iconic people be now if they hadn’t been enthusiastic about achieving their objectives?

Would the great Nelson Mandela have survived 27 years in prison if his desire to end South African apartheid had withered away? I think not. Ambition served this warrior well as he fought against such evils as racism, poverty and inequality.

Mother Teresa chose a life of selflessly helping those in need, particularly in Calcutta, India. A place where she witnessed traumatic events such as the Bengal famine of 1943 and the Hindu/Muslim violence of 1946, before the partition of India. Yet rather than let these catastrophes destroy her spirit, enthusiasm and appetite to help the needy, this small but almighty woman was fuelled by ambition, just like Mandela.

There are countless other men and women whose lives have been greatly impacted by their desire to achieve their aspirations. Ambition is a necessary motive; it propels us through life as we strive to collect our goals. Many people will tell you it’s great that you have ambition, and that it’s hard work and determination that gets you to the heights to which you so aspire.

There is only one problem with ambition, though, and it’s a problem which no-one seems to mention when they are telling you how great it is. Ambition brings you pain, it brings you suffering and sometimes when you feel so far away from your goals that a trip to Mars sounds more realistic, it brings you that all-too-familiar fear of failure.

The biggest fear personally for me is becoming and old man and never realising my potential or the potential I believe I have. This is interconnected with ambition; it creates a maelstrom of mixed emotions. It emits a craving as strong as any addicted smoker will experience when trying to give up cigarettes, only you don’t have the comfort of lighting up to vanquish the craving if it becomes too intense.

Maybe I’m just a pessimist, with an adept knack for putting a negative twist on an altogether positive matter. Surely it can’t be bad to have ambitions?

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you, keep your ambitions within reasonable limitations; otherwise they might just end up eating away at you. And don’t believe the old adage that you can be anything you want or do anything you want. In many cases it just isn’t true!