from my notebook

My head is full of thoughts, and I have to write them down.

Ambitious or Enthusiastic

Leonard Sweet‘s new book Viral includes a quote from former US Secretary of Labor and ambassador to Japan James Hodgson that says, “I’ve never had any ambitions, only enthusiasms.” That statement really hit me. I have never thought of myself as a hugely ambitious person, and for a long time that bothered me. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was lazy or something. Lots of people may feel that way, especially the truly ambitious ones.

One might think you can’t be successful in life without ambition. Hodgson appears to have acquired a level of success, so if his self-assessment is accurate, that would prove ambition is not necessary for success. Others might say, what’s the difference, can’t you be both.

Sweet goes on to ask, “Do you like this distinction between ‘ambitions’ and ‘enthusiasms'”? Pondering this brought me to a point of understanding and acceptance of my own situation. First let’s look at the definitions of the two words.

ambition – a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work
enthusiasm – intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval

To me, ambition seems to be more self-centered. More about gaining wealth and power. More about “look what I’ve done.” Enthusiasm focuses on fulfillment. Things that bring joy and peace, meaning to life. I am definitely an enthusiast.

Don’t misunderstand me, I work hard at my enthusiasms, and I like money. I would love for my enthusiasms to make me rich, but that’s not what drives me. So which are you? Do you agree with the distinction?


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One thought on “Ambitious or Enthusiastic

  1. Pingback: Power and Ambition – Action | Karoo Publishers

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