AMBITION AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ambition

I was never ambitious enough for the current world. I worked hard and well, but I never sought to be a boss. Every time the idea popped into my brain, that little niggling idea that “bosses get paid better” (which isn’t necessarily true in every profession, by the way), I shuddered.

Really BIG bosses get paid very well. CEOs of major corporations, for example. But most of the places for which I worked were little, tiny companies. The bosses got paid better than the workers, but generally, the company was built on the owners’ own money and enterprise with maybe a little investment from elsewhere. They didn’t get rich and they worked terribly hard. They earned their money.

Once, for six months — which was as long as I could stand it — I was the manager for a group of writers at a small (and ultimately bankrupt) corporation. The frustration of telling other writers what to do and not being able to do it myself drove me nuts.

Truth? I valued my personal life more than my work, except where they intersected. I didn’t like management and didn’t want to be anyone’s boss. Most bosses aren’t good at it anyway. The really good ones spend all their time solving other people’s problems.

So I worked. I got paid pretty well but never made that jump to the next level. My ambition pushed me to do the best work I could, but not to make the most money I could.

In today’s world, that’s called “being a loser.”

Is it?

REFERENCING SOURCES

Make It Anywhere

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” goes the famous song about New York City. Is there a place — a city, a school, a company — about which you think (or thought) the same? Tell us why, and if you ever tried to prove that claim.


One of my many home towns.
One of my many home towns.

I’ve never been particularly ambitious and I am not sure I ever “made it” anywhere. I have no idea why I am so unmotivated to climb the ladder of success. Wired that way, maybe.

Personal stuff — relationships, home, having fun — has always been more important to me than traditional success.

My current home.
At home in exurban New England

Which means that where I live has always been for personal reasons. New England, because Garry was (is) here. Jerusalem because it’s a giant tel full of ghosts, artifacts, and history. New York city, because I was born there and I was a kid, so I didn’t have a choice. Long Island (New York) because I went to school there, married a guy who worked at the university, and got stuck.

I never lived anywhere because it was professionally advantageous … or even sensible.

Being as I have nothing much to say about this, I thought I’d include some quotes from other people about success.

Which reminds me of college where I discovered you don’t actually have to write a paper yourself. You just have to quote sources and properly reference them. This will impress your professor without straining your brain to come up with an original idea.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
W.C. Fields

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.”
Bette Midler

“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut”
Albert Einstein

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Winston S. Churchill

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
Salvador Dalí

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
Abraham Lincoln

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. ”
Mark Twain

And so it goes. Success is however you define it and whether or not you’ve made it is entirely a matter of opinion. Yours is the one which counts.