Ambition session notes: When do you give up on ambition by kristinmarting
April 16, 2010, 3:38 pm
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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?


Ambition session notes: Doing the Most Good by kristinmarting
April 15, 2010, 8:33 pm
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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

Ambition session notes: Immigration by kristinmarting
April 15, 2010, 8:29 pm
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Ambition Think Tank, photo by Carl Skutsch

Ambition Think Tank photo by Carl Skutsch

Immigration   – Notetaker:  Clyde Valentine

Ambition   desire   obsession




1st generation

2nd generation

American dream

Tradition – Family-Home

What people want?

Points of contact?



That’s why they call it the American Dream – You have to be asleep to believe it.


Personal or Universal

Immigrants conflate ambition

Romanticizing of culture…



What’s left behind?

Ambition  : wikipedia definition : Desire for personal achievement



Time/patterns define the process…



American Empire

Feed into the myth and dream..

Ambition = Ladder


Race as Institutionalization

Truth is the myth

Geography deterring sense and place

Personal v. universal

Ambition and its outward expression

Native v. immigrant

Ambition does not equal success

Immigration as a point of failure

Having to move out of necessity





-collapse of a dream…



ambition what does it serve?

It’s complicated!






Giving up vs. gaining

Ambition Session Notes: Childhood vs. Adult Ambition by kristinmarting
April 13, 2010, 6:58 pm
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Tal & others at Ambition Think Tank, photo by Carl Skutsch

Childhood Ambition vs. Adult Ambition

Notetaker : Marc Bovino

do childhood ambitions drive us as adults?

are they at work subconsciously?

do childhood ambitions become adult ambitions because of the influence of the “american dream”?

or does the American Dream take away from our Childhood Ambitions?

how is the endless possibility of childhood honed down to an adult ambition?


Tal: Always loved the books with the character Tin Tin, a boy reporter who would go on adventures

Consciously used that fictional character to shape his life

Eventually became a documentary film maker for a while in direct response to Tin Tin

Now sees this same tendency in his son. Son wants to be a superhero.

When do we transfer from wanting to be superheroes to wanting to be lawyers…

clearly some of us never do

Lucy: Began studying chinese in college. Thought it was a new interest.

Father finds a picture of her at age 5 trying to draw Chinese characters.

Cheryl: always wanted to travel/ explore as a child.

fulfilled her childhood ambition completely.

Man #1: Always wanted to be an actor. Parents encouraged him to pursue it.

Pursued it until he became a father. Now pursuing the kind of person

he would like to be for his son to look up to and not necessarily what

career. pursuing the realistic as an adult. pursuing the ideal as a child.

We talked about desire to be a certain way (like a good person etc)


Desire to be something…. like actor, surgeon, lawyer etc.

as a child you want to be something as an adult you want to be a certain way

We discussed the idea that at 50 you can look back and see that your life path

was actually determined by the decision of a stoned 16 year old.

You can actually pin point the decisions back to a teenager.

How dangerous that can be to allow your teenage self to determine your “adult” life.

Gabby also discussed the difficulty of voicing her childhood ambitions because

in a way she would be betraying her childhood self if she didn’t accomplish those things

the difference between growing up vs. changing who you are.

We talked about at what age people seemed to lose their childhood ambitions and then

readjust those ambitions for their adult life. Everyone seemed to have different reactions to this.

We also discussed the phenomenon of adjusting ambitions as a child to fit in:

Like if getting good grades made you a nerd, then you’d adjust accordingly

Also discussed stating ambitions that you thought you were supposed to have:

ie. 4th grade English essay about who you’d be

and the response was something you didn’t really want

like married, 3 kids, a house, a job by 23.

Yana discussed the image of her as a child trying to pick up all her toys at once

and ultimately dropping them and crying. Ambitious child.

when does the desires of childhood become ambition?

Ambition Think Tank by yanaland
April 13, 2010, 5:00 pm
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Ambition Think Tank photo by Carl Skutsch

Last night we had our first Think Tank.  There was an  excellent turn out, about 50 people came and discussed in Open Session the topic of Ambition and what was important to them about the subject.  It was incredible to have so much participation, so many diverse ideas and perspectives, and such a good time.

We started in a giant  circle, introduced the piece and our goals of the evening (to create a dialogue and to get information.) We stated the basic rules of  an Open Session discussion.  Next people jumped up and wrote topics for discussion on paper that was posted to the wall.  We all broke up into subjects we connected to and began to share ideas.

It was amazing how much there was to be said.  Over the next week we will be entering notes from these discussions onto the blog.

We learned that this Open Session was a really good format for us to generate a lot of connections and ideas.  Thank you to all who attended, please feel free to write about your experiences or subjects you still want to expand on.

Ambition was a rich field to dig into, looking forward to the next one Happiness.  (May 4th 7-10)

Ambition by yanaland
April 7, 2010, 12:36 pm
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“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.”

Mark Twain

How do you find support for your ambition?
posted by Yana

Ambition by kristinmarting
March 29, 2010, 3:46 pm
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“I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” -Madonna

Can you be successful if you don’t have ambition?