Notes from Ambition – Think Tank #1 (Thanks Andrea Pemberton for recording these) by talyarden
April 27, 2010, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Ambition, Events | Tags:

Question: Does ambition have to equate with money?

Money toward your project vs. money for you.

Money = the way of keeping track, or you can track with fame, status, etc.


Money is a social system – means to an end after you have money it becomes an end.  After you have enough money it becomes an end.

Process vs. end

Does the end pull you, or does the intention push you

Enjoying the process seems healthier – keeping traveling vs. landing somewhere

Is ambition a contemporary problem?

Rich people’s children lack ambition – is it based on need?

Making a mark on society

Capitalism needs ambition – it is fueled by ambition – within capitalists system – ambition is equated with money but within other systems ambition is equated with other things.

Even in American capitalist system:  Olympians working as waiters – poor but ambitious.  Politicians who want power, but know their jobs aren’t going to necessarily bring in the most dollars.

Ambition Session Notes: Is your ambition like your parents or unlike your parents? by talyarden
April 25, 2010, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Question: Is your ambition like your parents or unlike your parents?

(Thanks Kim Whitener and Scott Blumenthal for recording these) posted by Tal Yarden

Aspiring not to success but to be inspired and optimistic, failing and going on to the nest thing, “to approach the world with childlike wonder”

“I have the ambition to be like my father and to be exactly the opposite of my mother.”  Mother is the negative – she suffered, cancer, rape, suicidal, stuck in a jobe because she needs the insurance.

The person with ambition has the vision for possibility.

Mother is devoid of ambition.

Ambition as part of the immigrant experience – living with a sense of responsibility for my parents’ dreams for me and the opportunities they gave me.

Missionary parents – ambition to serve (in a liberal sense – building hospitals, schools, etc.)  In China through the revolution.  Dedication to service.

Father’s ambition drove the life of the family.  Mother was the helpmeet, though she was a smart and capable woman.

“I am a-religious…but the principle of service has translated and that’s why I am in the arts.” (producing director at HERE!)

Sacrifice – does the reward equal or outweigh the cost in struggle and discomfort?

“Am I ambitious for myself or for my parents?”

Ambition = achievement  always ambitious to achieve the next goal.

“When I was a kid I didn’t have any dreams like [being a doctor]”

Particularly American goal, kind of ambition, to have a different ambition from your parents, to break away, to have your own ambition.

Priorities are different from ambitions, they affect ambitions.  Obligations too.

“I don’t feel like I have as many ambitions as I use to…  I have achieved what I set out to achieve.  Now I want more security.”

Cost of ambition.

Does ambition have to be risky?  Is that an American notion of ambition? Can it be ambition if the ambition is to be secure and stable?

Stages.  How does ambition change through life?

“Striving for something more than the norm, maybe even more than what is achievable…”

“I never think of ambitions as a pejorative term.  Maybe over ambitious.”

“My ambitions that are like my parents have to do with relationships, but my work is less like their ambitions.”

Tiny things that have been part of my father’s life, and I’ve been swept up by them.”

Do your brothers and sisters divide a long the like-your-mother / like-you-father camp?


Wants to write more fiction, but out of practicality writing grant proposals

Stability, taking care of children and family. Opposed to fulfilling one’s own ambitions?

“I am very much career-oriented and I want my life to be a certain way.”

“the choices, the cost”

“I feel like a lot of who my parents are is middle-of-the-road.”

“they both had artistic ambitions as young people… but then they had children… As a child the supreme goal of life was to be an artist; it wasn’t about making money.”

“I had the karma to be born to my parents, so I have this kind of situation…I am already in a relationship to my parents before I was born.”

No childhood ambition – coming from umbrella of a strong parental influence (pushing for high achievement – large umbrella but not discussing specific possibilities).  Not realizing til adulthood that you could have choices aside from your parents specific ambition.  Ambition tied to service, about sacrafice.

Habits from parents, work ethic, integrity, but ambition comes from his spirit, something larger than his family.  Knowing at a very young age – desire to make his own way – certain obstacles stop it, push it under for sometime but it comes back.

Being pulled toward or pushing to:

– potentiality that one can’t deny

– interior drive as opposed to an external pull.

From a cosmological perspective, can program your children, but there’s another perspective that the parent-child relationship preexists birth (Buddhist perspective)

Very few people take 100% responsibility for their life

– many things are inherited and continue

– can always reinvent oneself in a new way

filters  -immigrant experience – religion – cultural difference –all the differences in this country – we all share this kernel of the dream  Jewish/Catholic/Polish/Filipino – “follow your dreams”  – create one’s own identity

Happy Thoughts by talyarden
April 24, 2010, 10:34 am
Filed under: Happiness | Tags: ,

“Love is the seed of happiness.” from the Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazali (1058–1111), a Muslim Sufi thinker.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 B.C.E., Aristotle says that happiness is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake. He observes that people want riches, honor, health, etc. not only for their own sake but so that they can be happy. He says that eudaimonia, the greek word for “happiness”, is an activity rather than an emotion or a state of being.

“Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.” William Bennett (former Drug Czar under the first President Bush).  This fits in with something that ethicists call the Pleasure Paradox – see or

“We were not hoping for happiness – And yet we were not prepared for unhappiness.” from Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate.

So it seems like the pursuit of happiness, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as one of our unalienable rights, may be an oxymoron.  It’s there because Jefferson and Franklin thought it better and more noble than the pursuit of property.  The pursuit of happiness wasn’t meant to be a selfish act but rather the pursuit of happiness for the greater community, for society as a whole.  But if happiness can’t be had by pursuing it according to the Pleasure Paradox then how do we achieve it?  Are we suppose to pursue wealth, security, health instead because they may lead us to happiness?It seems like that may not work either.  The paradox suggests that it’s the act of pursuit that is the problem, that we can gain happiness through the most prosaic activities in life.  Perhaps through self-less action.

Posted by Tal Yarden

Happiness by kristinmarting
April 19, 2010, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

“You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.”  – Bette Davis

Do you agree?

posted by Kristin

Ambition Think Tank: ideas for sessions by kristinmarting
April 19, 2010, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Ambition, Events | Tags: , ,

Ambition Think Tank, photo by Carl Skutsch

We had more ideas for conversations than we had time to do -here’s a list of all of our ideas and I have marked the ones that we actually convened  – notes are already or will be posted for each session over the next day or so…..

posted by Kristin

When to Let go of Ambition (convened)

Does Ambition expire? How When Why Where?

Ambition for doing the most good (convened)

The ends vs the means

Is your ambition to be most like your parents or most unlike your parents?  (convened)

Childhood vs Adult Ambition  (convened)

Courage  (convened)

Self Destruction

Immigration (convened)


What is your relationship to Ambition?


Renown or Stardom






True to Yourself?

Does ambition have to equate with money?

Wordspace it Growotski It Shakespeare It

LUSH VALLEY Think Tank #2 – Happiness by kristinmarting
April 16, 2010, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Join us for  our second of eight community THINK TANK sessions on Tuesday, May 4th from 7pm -10pm which will delve into the concept of HAPPINESS. These Think Tanks are open to the public and are a cross between Town Hall and Open Space format.  We are looking to have a diverse group of folks at each event – we are looking for clowns, comedians, life coaches, motivational speakers,”happy people”, Kindergarten teachers, new age enthusiasts, therapists, psychiatrists, and anyone else who is interested.  Please come and if you know someone who fits this description and might enjoy this event please forward this invitation.

Please note: this event will be held at HERE’s Rehearsal Space, 75 Varick at Canal Street. Please bring ID for entry into building.

If you would like to attend, please email to rsvp.

Ambition session notes: When do you give up on ambition by kristinmarting
April 16, 2010, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Ambition Think Tank, photo by Carl Skutsch

When do you give up on ambition?

notes by Melanie Joseph and Carl Skutsch

When your goals and ambition are working, you don’t even notice

Let go of ambition if you’re beating your head against the wall

In what / when you achieve goals it’s not just the achievement of goals but it won’t feel any different (??)

Everyone is trying to clarify life’s true path

Ambition is tactical and practical, not visionary.  There is a difference between ambition and vision

Success kept coming up in place of ambition

Even Barack Obama must wonder if he’s achieved his ambition and has doubts and fears.

Few people ever achieve their ambition.

Does success achieved = ambition achieved?

Is ambition going beyond success, going beyond happiness?  Is that when you give up on ambition?

Does ambition ever stop?

What is the connection between ambition and winning?

What is the difference between ambition alone and ambition among a group of peers and/or competitors? Which is more painful? Having an audience to stare, criticize, or support? Beyond alone to focus, or to torment yourself?

Do you give up on ambition when it becomes too painful for you, your family, or those around you?

Fred questioned whether ambition would usually ever be negative for those around you? The idea that a strong ambition always gave those around you benefits.  I was skeptical.

What if you are really good at something, but lack the skills to get there?

Ie – What if you’re a good actor, but lack the aggressiveness to get the roles, get your feet in the door.  Or what if you’re a great writer, but are too shy to push your script/novel/work to push in a way that would make it success.

Is fear the opposition of ambition?

Can ambition and family and friends work together?  Are they incompatible with each other?