Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Ambition: nice or horrible?

Is it good to have an ambition? Is it bad to have an ambition?

Does the answer to those questions depend on the nature of the ambition being mooted? Or, does it depend on how one conducts oneself on the way to that ambition? Or a combination of both? Or does it depend on the reason for the ambition in the first place?

When you think of someone ambitious, do you think “tiresome loudmouth” or “inspirational role-model”?

As you can perhaps tell, I have been thinking about the concept of ambition today and finding it kind of … mixed.

At the very mention of the word, I think of Macbeth with his trouble with his “vaulting ambition”. It certainly didn’t do him any favours.

My other immediate association is this quote from 1 Thessalonians: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,  so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

I wonder to what extent leading a quiet life would be classed as a valid “ambition”. I think it’s a good one.

So, it’s my ambition to collect some thoughts about ambition.

Got any?



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7 thoughts on “Ambition: nice or horrible?

  1. I think that you did your ambition proud. I like your philosophical bent to this question. Ambition needn’t be bad, it could be, but it doesn’t have to be,I think that it depends what it is aimed towards. My ambition is to finish my book, be a good mother and a good friend, basically the best person that I can be, that can’t be a bad thing. 🙂

    • Yes, striving for excellence in a range of areas sounds like “a good thing”.

      • I don’t know about excellence, but trying to be the best me is all that I can hope for, 🙂 The negative aspects of ambition I think are the ones that hurt others such as walking all over others to gain for themselves. That is hurtful ambition.

  2. No ambition, no progress – but I agree w you in that sometimes the definition we apply to ambition is far too narrow, e.g. progress only in the sense of accumulating MORE of things. The world would be a better place if people also had ambitions when it came to being more caring, more forgiving, more generous, more spiritual. Dream on, right?

  3. I love this. I’m a high school literature and we’ve just been talking about this concept of ambition in class. We’ve been discussing whether ambition is compatible with living a virtuous life, using characters from different works as springboards for discussion. I love hearing what my students have to say, as sometimes they bring up points that I myself had never considered. One of my students directly linked ambition with pride, in that it is in some way always self-seeking. I think we are inclined to think of (virtuous) ambition as one that is properly ordered. However, an ambition that is “properly ordered” towards seeking the good is not truly ambition anymore; it is love. One is not motivated out of selfishness, but out of love.

    Also, I like your blog 🙂 It is kind of similar to mine (which is called “Coffee Spoons”). I look forward to reading more! Happy writing…

    • Yes, my ‘wee scoops’ are a nod to T.S Eliot – from the time I was using baby formula and measuring out my life in pink plastic scoops, always thinking “I measure out my life in coffee spoons – NOT – I measure out my life in wee scoops.”
      Great minds clearly think alike 🙂

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