Is ambition a bad thing? Can it be learned or is it evolutionary? Is it possible to be ambitious in one aspect of your life and not in others? Is it controllable, can you use it when beneficial but be able to dial it back when necessary?
These are some recent musings. I seem to be an ambitious individual, by that I’m competitive, driven, and tend to be overly focused on certain types of status. Am I naturally this way, or is this an evolutionary trait? I would say my mother is very similar, I don’t think my father is. They are no longer married by the way.
My mother pushed us all hard as children, so perhaps it’s learned. If I wasn’t getting the best grade, or at the top of the class I was made to feel like a failure. That could have rubbed off in a way.
But at the same time, things my mother cared about, like having a big house or being viewed as culturally elite I really don’t. My status desires tend to be different. Success in my military career (make rank, glory, recognition for my achievements), financial wealth (but not necessarily translated into goods, just on paper), and having a hot girlfriend/wife tend to be the things I chase after. Definitely seems like being in the military has influenced aspects of my ambition.
And it has been useful in some aspects. Being aggressive with my career, even if for the “wrong” reasons, has led me to work hard and make a difference in causes that matter. Even desiring better dating luck has led to a lot of introspection and attempts to understand myself and my tendencies.
Obviously it’s a fine balancing act though. Focusing on aggressive ambition at work can be counterproductive to the team and limit your contributions. Focus on looks can hurt someone you care about.
So how do you control it?