Interest & Ambition

INTEREST: Most people like doing whatever it is that they do for a living. Some love it. Can you imagine a carpenter not liking wood or nails or an accountant not liking precision with numbers? No. “The most important thing in life is interest.” John Houston, the famous Hollywood movie director said that. So, if you own a business, and plan to work at it for years and years, two things stand out. First, you’d better find it interesting. Second, you’d better like it huh. Yeah.

And…similar to INTEREST…we have AMBITION.

AMBITION: How bad do you want that thing you find interesting? Whether it is building the business of your dreams,making a million bucks, becoming famous, finding eternal beauty or just having a few moments of serene peace and quiet, ambition is a part of that. Ambition drives us all…it’s what the first psychology teacher in the United States,William James, called the worship of the Bitch Goddess Success.

Here’s the whole quote taken from a letter William James wrote to HG Wells, September 11, 1906. “The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess success, together with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success, is our national disease.”

Now Freud would have us believe that all drive stems from the libido. Sorry Sigmund, success is biologically determined by one’s own ability to stay focused on a task and persistence is a function of an active limbic system. Focus and persistence are influenced by desire and training and practice and discipline and determination and so on.

So, INTEREST and AMBITION…what can we say about these two concepts?

AMBITION fuels our desire for success and INTEREST steers us in a direction in which our success can be achieved. We can say this because it’s true. One the down side, some people are cursed with ambition, it ruins their lives, for they have no interest in anything else,like relationships and love and family. But for most of us, ambition works just fine.

If you’ve ever been in a job interview you may have heard a question like the following. Can you give a brief outline of the tasks which have your specific interest and ambitions? If you are unprepared to answer a question like this it can be devastating, and your chance for a job offer…gone in a hurry.

Then there is this wonderful little question. What would you do IF you knew you could not fail? And if you can answer that, then there is this follow-up question. What should be next? In other words, once armed with the answer to the first question how will you change your life?

Okay, you say, so what now? 

Well now we can ask what would make a person with a certain ambition and interest enjoy that particular interest even more. Well, a person with a certain interest might enjoy that particular interest even more if he or she got better at doing it, don’t you think? Sure,that’s logical. They would derive more intrinsic pleasure if they could pursue their interest more successfully or simply…do it better. When they would perform the activities fundamental to their interest flawlessly, that would give them temporary or even lasting moments of joy, right? Yup. They might also enjoy their interest more if they were rewarded for doing it more dramatically,as with a round of applause or more financial remuneration, you know, more money.That would probably make them happier, don’t you think? So let’s talk about how an ambitious person with a particular interest might pursue it more vigorously and successfully, and if it’s business related, make more money doing that thing they love.

Here are a couple of things that come to mind.

Create And Keep A Morning Phrase: “Today I will get all my important stuff done…before noon in fact.” Whatever you say to yourself in the morning, if you sincerely mean it and if you stay focused on it, it will most likely come true during the day. Why not taking advantage of this? Create a simple morning phrase and say it to yourself first thing in the morning and a couple of more times during the morning. Is that simple?

Change Your Work Space: Clean up your desk. Re-arrange the furniture. Add some color to that space. Make the place where you work really enjoyable, so enjoyable that work there won’t be perceived as work anymore. It will be something you love to do.

Let’s do one more.

Wake Up Early: This is not a habit, this is a lifestyle. Don’t just wake up early without a purpose. Be early. Be there before others, while it’s still and quiet. Decide what matters most to you that day. Write it down. Look for new opportunities and embrace them. Waking up early means keeping your eyes open to every available opportunity…and pursuing all your interests with all your might.