Ambition session notes: Doing the Most Good by kristinmarting
April 15, 2010, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Ambition Think Tank photo by Carl Skutsch

Ambition for doing the most good

Suggested by Sally Harris, Notes taken by Kristin Marting

Participants: Sally, Paul, Kristin, Richi, Melanie, Robert, a few other friends whose names I didn’t catch

Salvation Army slogan as the jumping off point:

Salvation Army has the stated goal of doing the most good – is that ok to say or not?

Susan Holman Fndn  & St Judes Childrens Hospital most trusted charities – why?

Nonprofits are in competition with each other, but all trying to do best work they can

How does spending and advertising affect public perception of mission

You have a conception of what good is – are there other definitions of good?

Why do you own good  vs someone else’s good?

Salvation Army, Literacy campaign, Cancer Society

People often do bad in the name of good

Missionaries going to Africa

Who is the authority on defining these priorities?

Can you force good on someone else? Is your good someone else’s good?

Relative to your own definition of good, are you obliged to be ambitious about achieving it?

Back to “doing the most good”, taking issue with “Most”– hot button word

When the statement is modified to “the most that I can do”, then it feels ok.

Is Ambition good?

Ambition is a positive value – is that true for most Americans?

Not for most of this group – mixed reaction

Is ambition egotistical?

Having ambition is good – goals and setting out to achieve them

Nature of your goal is the key

Free enterprise as an element of ambition —

If you are interested in serving your self that is good

Do the end justify the means?

Ruthlessness in order to achieve a good – is that ok?

Tainted money to solve problems – is that ok?

How the self is served is always in question

Ambition and religion

Koran says if there are people who say they are doing good, be afraid/ suspicious.

Buddha if a person is on the street telling you how to do your best, this is not the one you are seeking or should listen to.

Oprah = “I did not have such ambition – God had a bigger plan for me “

Calvinist = preordained = you are doing how you are doing because God chose that

Puritan = hard work = achieving what you are meant to by god

Is goal oriented living the unquestionable positive way?

Can you be ambitious without competition?

Better to do your best irregardless of others around –

Subjective perception

Self actualization

I expect if I do my best the money will come and the freedom and good things with that

Your best didn’t hatch that time –then explore the next route

Drive = Ambition

Ambition has an end product – it is for something – it is never where you are

Competition and winning

Winner culture – the leader, the savior, the one winner,

Much more facility to do

Cockeyed ambition

Blind Ambition

Individualist characteristic  = neurosis of competition and winning

No noble calling = compulsive need

Power and control and how do they relate to ambition

If you’re not succeeding its because you’re not doing enough

American  exceptionalism

The most ambitious country at doing good for the most people around the world

Economic machine, military machine

Sense of obligation to take care of those things

Is anyone successful who was not hugely ambitious?

Who is the most ambitious person we know?

Trump, Obama,

Lincoln and Washington were both hugely ambitious

Dr King had vision and was ambitious —-

Was Ghandi ambitious ?

The scope and scale within which Obama is trying to affect change is enormous —

Can you separate Ambition from Capitalism?

In America, it seems like success is dependent on inequity

It means you have more than someone else

Canada vs America

Canada:  ambition = too big for your britches =

Violent revolution in America /  Canada never fought free until 1972 = how is that different?

Most rugged individualism = laws are geared this way – protect individual over societal needs

Rights Talk book by ??????/ =

tort law affects the way we make the choices we make

Protecting the rights of the individual over the greater community good

American vs Canadian laws


How did the homesteaders/ settlers get the land – they took it = their gun,

Ownership promotes responsibiltiies

Tragedy of the commons – the land is abused and taken advantage of

Uganda no one owned land until the British came- tribal wars started after land ownership took place

Texts to look at in relation to Ambition

Macbeth    ==  it is the ambition that destroys you – it is his regret that destroys him – not “ man enough to own up to what he’s done.

The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand = through selfishness, you do the most good –

Crimes & Misdemeanors – Woody Allen —

Tenets of the American Dream

Own a house?

Your children will do better than you

Sense of entitlement

Freedom to do or freedom from

Hard to see the frame in your own culture  = easier to see in other cultures

The doxsa = realm of what we take for granted

Opportunity vs freedom

Pursuit of happiness

Does it require ambition to be happy?

Aspire ==== Hope

Individuated = ambition


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