What is Ambition?


Ambition provides the spur to action. A target in life is a psychological necessity. A man without an ambition may he likened to a ship without a rudder. “Vaulting ambition” as Shakespeare says may “overleap itself”. What is needed is a realizable aim. Overweening ambition can lead to disastrous consequences.

Ambition, of course, is not confined to physical or worldly matters. In the spiritual realm, too, one’s ambition can be realized. One of the best dressed men in the most fashionable city of Paris walked the dusty streets of Goa and Malacca with a begging bowl in his hand. Francis Xavier, the pleasure-seeking youth, was seized by the yearning not “to suffer the loss of his soul”. His motivation called “faith” gave him wings and he soared to great heights.

The path to our goal is not always strewn with roses. Discovery of truths which we take for granted today brought hardships and loneliness for those who worked untiringly against a mocking world. Louis Pasteur who said that germs cause diseases was scoffed at an ridiculed by “learned” doctors. This indefatigable Frenchman had to spend as much time fighting superstition and skepticism as he had to spend fighting pathogenic bacteria. Again unswerving drive helped Florence Nightigale and Elizabeth Barrett to steer clear of the pride and prejudice of the male-dominated world and realize their ambitions.

Realization of ambition comes sometimes at unexpected moments. William Henry David. for example. failed to sell his collection of poems. He published his poems again. One morning, looking down from his cubicle, he found many cars waiting in the muddy lane. He was surprised to learn that the rich people of high social standing had arrived to invite him to dinner for G.B. Shaw had recommended his book. But it should not be surmised that achievement of our aim depends on blind chance. Take the case of the unexpected discovery of penicillin, the wonder drug that has saved millions of lives. True. Alexander Fleming left the bacteria culture carelessly open and this resulted in the discovery. We are, in fact, oblivious of his drive, enthusiasm and initiative which contributed to his success and so to his greatness.

Material shortcomings need not stop us from reaching our goal. Abraham Lincoln could not afford books, so he increased his vocabulary by learning the meanings of words from the old newspaper wrappings from the grocer’s. Even the past poor examination results need not hamper you. Winston Churchill, a great prime minister, one of the architects of Second World War victory, writer, historian, orator and painter failed in his examinations many times and had the unsavory experience of being detained in the same class two or three years But his ambition made him persevere and finally succeed.

Ambition-sprung actions seem to be very light. Since the work is done in the pleasurable associations of our own desires. nervous energy expended is cut to the minimum. Paradoxically, hard work ceases to be hard when “ambition- joined”. Consider the willingness with which the Japanese sportsmen undergo the rigorous physical training.

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