Aspiration: a strong desire to achieve something high or great
It seems that certain characteristics that are distasteful to me often go hand in hand with an “ardent desire for rank, fame or power” – egotism, ruthlessness, insensitivity, greed. I certainly have had goals that were important to me and I recognize the need for an element of ambition to be present in any endeavor but, as I contemplate these two definitions, I think my goals were more aspirations than ambitions. Interestingly, other words included in the definition of aspire include ascend and soar, which leads me to believe that aspire is more aligned with spirit than ambition. I have gradually come to understand that inner peace and contentment come from thinking and acting from my highest self, not from striving to achieve anything strictly for material gain or ego gratification or to fulfill the expectations of other people, all of which I have done at one time or another. Experience has taught me that I am much happier when I strive to ascend and soar. There is a difference between ambition and aspiration and I think it lies in motivation. I have never been so driven by ambition to achieve something that I would do anything to get it, including hurting family and friends or abandoning my values, but I have seen others who were willing to do just that. Actually, I have been unpleasantly surprised sometimes at how little it takes for someone to betray another person’s trust.
Most of my “career” decisions were motivated by a desire to provide a secure, comfortable life for my son and to be independent of erratic child support payments but not by a feeling of ambition. I never had grandiose dreams of wealth or status; I just aspired to own my own home, be financially comfortable, and take care of my son. The story of my career is not one of climbing the ladder or moving from one position to another in order to “succeed” but more a case of just being in the right place at the right time and being fortunate enough to have supervisors who rewarded me for doing a good job. My motivation was simply to do the best job I could with the tools that were available to me and to treat others honestly and fairly. I’m content today because I attained my own modest definition of success which allowed me to achieve two important aspirations – providing my son with a comfortable, secure upbringing and providing myself with the ability to retire at a relatively young age and embark on a reinvention journey.
Recently, I was listening to Rabbi Daniel Lapin talk about his book “Thou Shalt Prosper” and I realized that, on some level, I have always understood that there should be a spiritual side to earning wealth and achieving success in order for it to be truly meaningful. Money itself is just paper but it actually has a spiritual value because it is exchanged for our labors, creative ideas and time. Before I ever read a book about management I instinctively knew that my success depended upon the success of those around me – peers and subordinates alike. Not being a particularly ambitious or competitive person I can’t relate to what that feels like as a driving force; I can only suggest that when ambition or the love of money rule you there are bound to be negative outcomes. Wealth and success are beneficial not only to the individual who earns them but to society as a whole – that is why communism never works – but it is important to recognize the WHY of everything you’re striving to achieve so that you don’t end up with a hollow victory. After all, it’s not money that is the root of all evil; it is the love of money. Success has a different meaning for all of us and it’s good to figure out your own definition but, whatever it is, if you can reach it through honest effort and a “desire to achieve something high or great” you will always be in alignment with your highest self. At the same time, recognize the Law of Abundance and encourage and support others in their efforts to achieve their own definition of success.
I didn’t write last weekend because I got caught up in events related to the Boston Marathon bombing – on a personal level and as a citizen of this country. My son works in Boston just a short distance from the marathon finish line, in fact, he gets off the bus at Copley Square each morning and walks to his office. When I heard about the bombing on Monday I was concerned that he might have been in the vicinity of the finish line to watch the runners and had a couple of anxious hours until I heard from him. Fortunately, he was safe in his office. Then, when I got up on Friday morning I was alarmed to learn of the dramatic events occurring in Watertown, just a few blocks from where my son lives! Fortunately again, he was safe in his home. Strangely, he was working for a company in mid-town Manhattan on 9/11 and had jobs all over the city, often in the Wall St. area, so I had no idea where he was and couldn’t get through on the phone until almost 6 p.m.
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