The negative impact of ambition
Written: 04-03-2015

On my walk today, I listened to the latest Tim Ferriss podcast which was a reading titled “Lazy: A Manifesto”.  You should go listen to it if you have every said, “I’m so busy” to someone when they ask how you are doing.

I do this all the time. The truth is that my busyness is almost always a function of my own decisions. I agree to things that I don’t likely have extra time to do, but I also like the fact that someone is asking me to do them. What is somewhat ironic is that I actually feel like saying “no” is something I’m also good at. However, when something appeals to my ego – I have a hard time turning it down.

The end result is that I get to do things that are somewhat interesting, that are potentially beneficail for my career or experience; yet I end up lacking freedom and free time. This is a part of the understanding that I’ve had with myself for several years – “work really hard now”, then at some point I’ll have accomplished my biggest goals and can relax for awhile.

This is where ambition can be a two edged sword:  ambition drives me to work hard today, however when I reach goals – I’m prone to just set higher goals. There rarely comes a day where “relax” happens.

A few weeks ago, someone said they appreciate “how hard I work”.  It wasn’t from a co-worker, but from someone from outside my “work life”.  I appeciated the complement, however – thinking about it in retrospect and with the knowledge of having just listened to the “Lazy: A Manifesto” – I hope that is not all I’m known and appreciated for.  I don’t think it is, but it was the first thing they commented on.

In a similar sort of eye opening moment, last week on the way home from Chicago – I listend to the book “Scrum: The art of doing twice the work in half the time”.  A comment from the book was something to the effect that, if you have to work overtime and many hours to get a project done – you are not doing it right.  That’s a paraphrase, but I think I understood the message.

It’s funny how being “busy” and working “60 hours a week” is just accepted as the necessary evil of success… or at least I’ve accepted that notion.

One last point from the podcast today, that I find interesting. It talked about how many fortunate and well-off people are who describe themselves as “busy” – because people who truly do have to work 3 jobs, overnight shifts, etc… they don’t self describe themselves as “busy” they identify with being “tired”.  How true!  Being busy for many, is a function of fulfilling ego and wanting feelings of importance.