Archive for the ‘ambition’ Tag

Let it be

We are generally taught that ambition is a positive thing, and that we should work hard to overcome all obstacles to our dreams.  Indeed, determination and persistence prove to be awesome allies as we stumble through life; those who are not deterred by petty interruptions or objections are often those who come out on top.

On the other hand, we can take the go-gettum attitude too seriously, and wind up on the blind side.  This is not because ambition fails, but because it can hide from us the holistic truth.  Consider, therefore, the benefit of another practice, one especially fostered by the teachings of the Alexander Technique.  So often our energy is pushing forward, reaching not only mentally but physically toward our objective.  Do you recognize that forward press in yourself?  Do you catch yourself straining to see, or hear, or get there?  Are your shoulders tensed in anticipation, do you peer intently ahead, is your forehead often the leading part of your body and movement?

If (like me!) you realize your interface with the world is characterized by this grasping, consider the opposite approach.  If you know that to everything there is a season; if you trust that you are loved and lovable; if you are willing to discover life as much as to shape it, then try relaxing back into yourself and allowing the world to come to you.  Instead of straining to get, take a deep breath, put ambition aside, and experience the calm of centered being that does not grasp but easily receives.  In this place, you can use your senses to full effect; you can not only listen, but hear; not only see, but perceive.  You are the center of your world, so isn’t it best to act the part? 

Especially when stumped or struggling, try this subtle physical and mental shift.  Pull your consciousness back in to yourself, cease the forward push, and in quiet self-possession, let life in.  The practice restores health and vitality, stimulates creativity and compassion, and – most importantly – balances ambition with proper, even nourishing humility.


While you hear the occasional tale of a bright young graduate (or drop-out, as the case may be) striking it rich with a clever idea, for the most part entrepreneurs base their business on skill of some kind. It could be anything from skill in customer service, to skill as vice president, to skill in creating and dissolving entrepreneurships by the dozen. Generally speaking, going into business for yourself means offering a skill of some kind.

Problem is, it takes time to develop marketable skill; often a great deal of time. For this reason, it may be well into your adult life before business ownership becomes feasible.

Another factor that’s crucial to business success and that requires significant maturity to acquire is doing what you really want to do in life.

That may sound inane, but ask most any young person (say, under age 35) what they really want and you’re likely to get mumbled, confused answers. Ask yourself right now: what is my deepest, truest want at this moment? what do I most profoundly want in my life and my future?

Young people rightfully don’t dwell much on these questions, unless they pertain simply to a Friday night’s entertainment, or perhaps where they should attend college, or which company offers the best working environment.

It is more towards the middle years that you start questioning whether you even want entertainment on a Friday night; or you suddenly thirst for new knowledge in a way you never dreamed of while you were in school. Or the awareness slowly creeps in that it’s time to become all of yourself, to use all your skills, to serve your highest wants and offer the fullest expression of your gifts – in other words, you finally realize it’s time to get started in your own business.

Indeed, it’s not easy to know what you truly want. We both want and don’t want so many things: e.g., temptations of all kinds, disciplines, new technologies, taxes, all that stuff. The old immediate gratification so often grabs the stage from our ultimate wants. Only such folk as Zen monks and the Dalai Lama can say they act according to their deepest wants exclusively. Nonetheless the rest of us do our best to follow their example, whatever our creed.

All the above is meant to introduce another essential creativity practice (of course!), which I call urging. This comes from theater improvisation exercises. In that arena, half of a group sits as an audience, while the other half goes onstage – a specifically marked out area of the floor. Those onstage are asked to urge, to do whatever they are moved to do. There are no other instructions.

This is difficult for many, requiring some getting used to, yet it brings continuous revelation even to the seasoned practitioner. Later on, perhaps I’ll discuss this exercise in detail. For now, look at possibilities for urging in your life. Or it may be more relevant to suggest, look for the times when you naturally respond according to your urges rather than according to reason. When you think about these times, what do you learn about yourself? Do you know what you want?