[Short] Are ambitious people just traumatised and insecure?

I have a little theory I want to bounce off you guys. Just to get your opinion.

When I worked for Department of Corrections, I experienced hungry ambition for the first time in my life. Once I saw a correlation between working hard and building skills with climbing the hierarchy, I became near-obsessed with constantly moving “up” and making more money.

But at some point, I came to realise that I’d gone past the point where I actually enjoyed my work. I had left behind the meaningful work for more promotions, more responsibility, and frankly, more money and status.

There was always more I could get. And whenever I got “there”, I soon became accustomed to the success and wanted more yet again.

I saw in that moment that my ambition was not driven by my core values or even pleasure, but something deeper and darker and uglier. While I told myself nice stories about “having a greater impact” and “being a role model”, the truth was that I just wanted MORE.

I believe that ambition is a byproduct of trauma, that it’s not actually a healthy push of motivation but an unhealthy demon that takes over you brain.

I define ambition as the drive to acquire more than you need.

See, the drive to acquire enough is just survival. That’s completely healthy – by definition it’s the “right” amount of drive.

To acquire more than you need, to never feel like you have enough, how could that possibly be healthy? How could ambition possibly be coming from a content or confident place?

This is backed by all the research I’ve done on successful people, where I found that many of them, all of them perhaps, were driven by dark demons more than love or values.

When I see billionaires, or promiscuous players, or Olympic athletes, I see a darkness underneath the outer success, a question that I can’t help but ask: When will this be enough for you?

Let me know your thoughts. Am I onto something or am I full of shit?

One Response

  1. Maybe we need to differentiate between passionate and ambitious? For me, passion means you’re enjoying the present moment, while ambition means you’re looking toward enjoying a moment in the future.

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