There is a troubling trend spreading across the western world. Millions are suffering from a condition known as 'Ambition Disease.'
Signs and symptoms of ambition disease include:
Recognize any of these? If you do, pay close attention to the rest of the article; you just might be able to save a life.
To gain a better understanding of this perplexing condition we must first define its title.
Ambition: an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honour, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment ...
Disease: is a particular abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism ...
Another way of understanding disease is to break it down: dis-ease, or lacking in ease or peace.
This new classification may come as a shock to some. How would the ultimate quality needed for 'success' be a disease?
It's the very nature of what we deem to be successful, and the ambition to achieve it, that is causing disease.
What is Success?
If I gave the average person 30 seconds to write down the first things that came to mind when they thought of success, what would they be?
"Wealth, fame, respect, admiration, power, beauty, luxury, cars, mansions."
You could do a little research to validate this by searching #success on Instagram. Go ahead and see if this list isn't what most people define as success.
Inner vs. Outer Success
All of the things listed above are forms of external validation. They are things and feelings that come from how you present yourself to others and how you hope they view you.
Inherent in needing something external is a lacking of something internal: self-love.
When we don't feel something inside we seek it from the outside. When we are hungry we look for food (we can't make it on our own). And when we don't feel love we try to find it from others. The mistake we are making is in thinking that we can't find love within ourselves.
Looking for love from the outside before we can develop it from the inside is a path to misery.
The disastrous pursuit for fame that has crippled the lives of talented artists throughout the decades is evidence to the soul-sucking quest for external love and 'success.'
Externally validated successAnd it's not just celebrities that are being broken by searching for something that will never bring them peace.
Unhappiness is rampant. 1 in 5 adults in the United states is suffering from a mental illness. More still are in a state of being unfulfilled and unloved.
Can we not think that how we view success, or that which will make you happy, and the ambition to achieve it, as a major contributor to this massive state of disease?
Why do we 'NEED' success?
We have a culture that teaches us to value ourselves by the way we fit into society. Positions of prestige and influence are admired while paths of modesty and self-knowledge are discouraged. "How are you going to make money doing that?" and "What do you do for a living?" are the first questions always asked, as though that is the whole aim of your journey.
We were raised around people who are products of this paradigm. They have instilled this value in us.
In your government schooling, you were taught how to be a good member of society. It was there that they taught you that to succeed you must be able to memorize and repeat the information presented to you. Your creativity and uniqueness? Leave that for your extra-curricular activity. If you want to make something of yourself you will need to absorb and repeat this textbook.
You received love for impressing your teachers, parents, and peers with standardized and graded performance.
What does it say to a child who doesn't have the aptitude or the interest to get 'good grades?' It instills a sense of worthlessness and of inadequacy. It creates a need to impress others in order to feel loved.
You've got to make something of yourself
NEEDING to make something of yourself. What does that say about who you are right now? That you are not sufficient? Why do you need to become someone else? To be admired? To feel accepted or loved? What else would 'success' bring you?
Instead of focusing on what we need to do to be happy, it would be better to ask ourselves, why aren't I happy right now? Who am I really? What resonates best with my soul? How can I best be my most authentic self?
Being great vs. achieving it
There is a distinction between 'being great' and striving for greatness.
There is greatness in finding what brings you true joy, and doing that often. When someone finds their joy and is able to repeat what brings it to them everyday, a grand display of skill and beauty is inevitable.
Be it gardening, woodwork, story telling, nurturing of others, and even sales, if we are doing what we love then we will already be great.
Needing to be great in the eyes of others is a fool's game. We can never control what others will think of us, and hedging your happiness on the way others perceive your abilities will only lead to disappointment.
When you identify your gifts, pursue them often, purely for the sake of doing it, rather than the value it brings, you will build a self-esteem that is unaffected by the society in which you live.
Here and now
The very nature of ambition requires a focus on obtaining something that we do not have. We have everything already.
Like comparing yourself to a photoshopped picture of a model in an advertisement, having the ambition to be 'successful' is a quest for an ideal that is unattainable and destructive. Success in truth is finding you true self and your inner happiness. Success is feeling self-love and a connection to others. Success is recognizing your own infinite awareness and experience as the person you currently are.
You don't need ambition to feel this way. You only need to look inside and see who you really are. If you can do this then you can heal our world.
© Maverick Wilson