Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thoughts About Ambition

I continue to have serious ponderings about whether ambition is worth the price. I have had a couple of long days this week at work, in which I have pressed the change-agent pedal to the metal in partnership with another leader who is desperate to change a culture. On both of these days I have arrived home just in time to see my kids off to bed. It felt good to make a difference in an abstract sort of way, but amid the frenzy of teeth-brushing, bedtime stories and nite-nite kisses I question the larger meaning of life. I contemplate the value of how time is invested during this short sprint we call human existence, set against the backdrop of eternity.

Last night while getting sleepy with a news magazine I wondered how it felt at times for these presidential candidates who are giving, like, 250 percent of their energy and time each day in order to potentially secure the prize of leading the U.S. for four or eight years. I considered the tremendous personal, emotional and probably physical price they pay for such ambition, and whether receiving and living out the prize will be as satisfying as what they lose in the process.

Our American culture thrives on ambition. At work each day I motivate people to be ambitious, to grow professionally, to have goals. But I often do it in the context of reflective living, where someone digs deep to find an authentic sense of their passions and delights and builds a life mission going forward. Ambition just to achieve, claim, get the power or recognition or wealth--more and more, it seems so unsatisfying.

I am craving more time for my own reflection, and the writing that pours out of that. Somehow that feels like the best use of time, along with quality moments with those whom you love. And the work I do with others, for how ever long a season I am blessed to do it, must feel personally meaningful to me. Usually it does, but at times I have to question whether it is work I truly love or simply work.

That is a question with which we all should grapple, for life is shot and precious and work chews up a lot of its real estate.


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