“A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I’ve always told myself that when the time comes that my daughters would have suitors, and eventually boyfriends, that one of the first things I would look for is if he has ambition. I want the best for my children that’s why I would definitely be disappointed if they end up with a bum who has no dreams and otherwise contented with an average life.
People say that if you are going to dream, you have to dream big and I definitely agree with this. It’s totally free to dream of becoming something or achieving something. (I can’t get that Austin Powers quote out of my head while writing this. You know, “why make billions when you can make…..millions?”)
The question there is, how much are you willing to sacrifice for you to make that dream a reality? What are you willing to do to get there?
One of the things that has challenged my curiosity over the years are the differences and similarities between discontentment and ambition (you’re probably asking yourself the same question now as you read).
Does being discontented equate to being ambitious? Does having an ambition mean you are discontented?
What drives your discontentment?
People can be discontented for a ton of reasons. You can be discontented with how your life has turned out, you can be discontented with your professional career, and you can also be discontented with your financial status. But how discontented are you?
Are you discontented enough to take action, work hard and persevere until you reach what you’ve aspired for?
If this is how you feel, then you are on the right track. Sometimes, it takes a large chunk of discontentment to push us into action. You must reach that point when you’ve got both hands holding your hair tight on both sides of your head and you feel like you wanted to shout I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!
Most successful people started this way where they experience a tragic or humbling experience that would bring them down to their knees. They go through tough times and go through horrible events until one day, they come to a realization that they can’t take it anymore and that they will have to put a stop to all these by taking action.
The best example I can think of is Chris Gardner whose story was the inspiration behind the movie Pursuit off Happyness. He went through several hardships that are just unimaginable. He went homeless for a time, went bankrupt and had to separate from his wife I mean, come on! How much can this guy take?
What was good about Chris was that he had ambition but before that came about, he went through discontentment first. He was tired of being homeless and always trying to beat the clock to get a room in some halfway house. He was tired of being miserable and this pushed him to do everything to meet his goal which was to become a stock broker.
What would make you happy?
Discontentment has a negative side to it too. If you are discontented despite of having more than what you need, then that is outright selfishness or greed. Conventional wisdom tells us that we should be contented with what we have and with what God has given us and that is absolutely true but it is also not bad to try to improve oneself or one’s income especially if that would mean a comfortable, happy life. It only becomes negative when your discontentment dives you to do something or get something that is totally unnecessary.
One of the best examples that came to mind are these celebrities who are so obsessed with plastic surgery. They spend millions of dollars to lift this, tuck that, make this bigger or trim this smaller I mean, when will they ever be contented?
This is just my opinion and I know this may sound controversial but a lot of people in the world have nothing to eat and here you are trying to fix something that wasn’t really damaged in the first place. One surgery after another can cost a lot and yes, that’s your money, you worked for it but I think, and this is just me, that doing that is just plain arrogance and I’m not referring to plastic surgery addicts only but people who already has a lot but can’t seem to find the contentment to stop.
The danger of becoming complacent
Self-help books will always tell you to never be contented and to always push yourself to become better and successful. You can’t afford to be complacent and that you should always look to improve yourself one way or another.
I’ve read this article about how to measure success. In the article, it was said that if in the last five years you have not seen an improvement in your position and income, that you are considered a failure.
We must not get too comfortable with where we are especially if we’re not seeing progress. I used to be an advocate for loyal employees. People who stick to the same company for several years but lately, I’ve had a change of mind.
According to one of my mentors, one of the secrets of his success is his flexibility. He has worked for a number of industries already like BPO, Banking, IT, Manufacturing and so forth and according to him, these experiences has made him highly-employable. He also told me that he would usually stay in a company for 2 to 3 years and if he doesn’t see any progress, he quits and looks for another one.
To make it short, the secret is not to be contented and to always look for a different challenge when you’re starting to feel too comfortable and complacent. Always stay hungry.
I have a friend whom we teased a lot because of his propensity to go after girls who we considered out of his league. We always told him that he was a six or seven (based on looks) at best and to stop going for nines and tens because he was too ambitious but he would always fight back by saying if you will dream, dream big.
The guy had a lot of confidence in him but several years after, lo and behold, he did end up with a really pretty girl. The type he swooned over back in the day.
My friend just proved what the book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude taught was true which was: “what the mind can conceive and believe, can be achieved.”
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious as long as it’s all for the right reasons which is why you should stop watching too many soap operas because most of them depict characters whose ambition is tied with revenge.
Discontentment and ambition goes hand-in-hand and they should complement each other. Let your discontentment drive you towards your ambition. Let that dissatisfaction grow so big to the point where you’ll push yourself to go after your dreams and never stop until you reach it.
Over to You
Has a certain discontentment in the past lead you to a goal or ambition?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or share your stories below. I would very much appreciate that.
You can also share this content via twitter