Minute #578: Bounce Back

Ambitious people push themselves to the limit to achieve their goals.

Like other character traits, ambition can be regarded in a positive light or may be viewed as negative. When a person is selfish and only pushes to grab more, others look at this ambition as a negative trait. However, when one is driven to give to others, the ambitious nature is productive in building society and even innovating products and services that benefit many.

In business and industry, this trait is a plus on one’s résumé. If one is a teacher, the desire to share the joy of knowledge with students produces innovative techniques for making one’s point more understandable. Creative educators who want to transmit knowledge can make learning exciting and fun to students who otherwise might fail to exert themselves to learn. In these scenarios, ambitious individuals are admired and praised by those who observe their energy and performance.

The underlying motivation is what determines the character of the ambition. Some people may lack self-confidence and feel inadequate or unworthy. The enthusiasm observed in such individuals is really a drive to prove, both to themselves and others, that they are worthy of respect and praise. Their achievements don’t satisfy and they don’t yield happiness. They produce stress and tension and the drive for these individuals to do more to prove themselves — which is counterproductive to feeling good about their accomplishments.

On the other hand, people who realize and appreciate the talents with which they were blessed and choose to use them to help others, feel satisfaction when their efforts succeed. Rather than trying to prove their self-worth, they use their real worth to give again and again. By making others happy, they gain satisfaction and happiness for themselves.

Give of yourself and gain for yourself.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

People want to know who they are. In order to achieve this happy state of self-identity and self-worth, one must have a healthy sense of family and of the past. People are like a painting. If they are not placed in a proper frame then their full beauty and potential cannot be appreciated. (Rabbi Berel Wein, Buy Green Bananas, p. 73)