Throughout our lives, we are often given contradictory messages about ambition. On the one hand, we are told that it is a positive virtue indicative of being motivated, inspired and goal-directed. On the other hand, ambition is often viewed as an indicator of the acceptance of ego-domination as well as a lack of concern for the well-being of others.
I love this quote, which opens and closes my latest book, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning
The Bushman in the Kalahari Desert talk about two "hungers."
There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger.
The Little Hunger wants food for the belly; but the Great Hunger,
the greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning...
There's ultimately only one thing that makes human beings deeply and profoundly bitter,
and that is to have thrust upon them a life without meaning...
There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness...
But of far more comfort to the soul...is something greater than happiness
or unhappiness, and that is meaning. Because meaning transfigures all...
Once what you are doing has for you meaning, it is irrelevant whether you're happy
or unhappy. You are content—you are not alone in your Spirit—you belong.
— Sir Laurens van der Post from Hasten Slowly, a film by Mickey Lemle
One way to get a handle on this idea of ambition is to view it through the four major archetypes that seem to identify us as we move from a more ego-directed way of looking at our own place in the world toward a more enlightened view of our own dharma, or purpose for being here, in this very body that we are in, at this particular time. Carl Jung often used archetypes to provide a visual representation and help clarify the various stages of life.Discover the 4 major archetypes