Ambition is so powerful a passion in the heart, that however high we reach we are never satisfied. – Niccolò Machiavelli
What does that mean?
To me, this quote is a warning about an excess of ambition. The quote states that it considers ambition as a very powerful a passion in the heart of mankind. It continues by stating that it can become so powerful that it can never be satisfied. To me, that sounds like a very scary thing, having an urge that is so strong that you cannot ever quench the desire.
The quote both honors ambition as a driving force in the first half, and warns us of the dangers of too much ambition in the second half. This seems to be a standard problem of finding the balance between too much of something and too little, the very definition of Aristotle’s Golden Mean.
Why is ambition important?
By this, I mean a reasonable amount of ambition, an amount that you can keep under control, one which can be sated with reasonable ease. As long as you can keep it under control, ambition can be a powerful motivational tool. Just be careful, as it can easily get out of hand and become an obscession.
Ambition is defined on thefreedictionary.com as “the desire for personal achievement.” and that it “provides the motivation and determination necessary to achieve goals in life.” Even they issue a caution that it can easily be misused, citing Herostratus and his ambition to become famous by destroying the temple of Artemis.
Where can I apply this in my life?
As a control freak, the last thing I want is something that is too powerful for me to control, an emotion that is too great to ever be satisfied. How about you, would an ambition beyond your control be a frightening thing of which to be a part?
Ambition can be used as a driving force, the motivation to help you become the best you can be at whatever you choose to do. To me, this is the proper use of ambition. Others have little to no ambition.
I don’t consider this to be a problem, so long as it is only for a specific aspect of your life. As an example, I have no political ambitions. I have many opinions, but no desire to actually be a politician.
That lack of political ambition includes climbing the corporate ladder as well. I have no interest in meetings, but rather in doings. I have been in minor roles of leadership, and found them to be more pain than pleasure, so I have actively avoided them ever since.
However, on the technical side, I am always interested in learning more, in becoming more. I also have ambitions in the gaining and improving my abilities and skill sets. Even as I become older, I have been working on my strength and flexibility, and am in the best shape since High School, which is more a condemnation of my middle age than a brag on my present condition.
Consider your life and where you might have too much or too little ambition. If you look across all your interests, and there is no ambition to improve on any of them, you might have too little ambition. Similarly, if you want to improve everything, without bounds, until you are the supreme being of the entire universe, you might have a little too much. 😉
As with all Golden Mean paths, you must decide what is right for you, and realize that this definition will change with the situation as well as with time. This implies that you should check up on this from time to time, right?
What did you come up with? Are you happy with everything you have been working on? Did you find any places where you are still doing something because you used to want to improve, but now have different interests? Did you find any places where you would like to improve your present skills or abilities?
Are you going to design your life, or just stumble through it? Looking at your ambitions and tailoring them to match your present needs might be a good place to start. Unless you lack the ambition.
From: Twitter, @gr8benj
confirmed at :http://www.quoteland.com/author/Niccolo-Machiavelli-Quotes/656/ first quote in ambition section, credited to Niccolò Machiavelli
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrywadsw119721.html credited to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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