Washington, US (BBN)-When I was young and people would ask about me, my father, who knew me all too well, would say: “Jimmy suffers from a distinct lack of ambition.”
Ouch. I loved him dearly, but I couldn’t argue with his assessment then, and I can’t argue with it now, reports NDTV.
I’ve been hearing some version of it my whole life. An eighth-grade teacher told me, “You do nice work. But you should do more of it.” I remember my instant reaction: Huh? Why?
Indeed, a former boss once told me I was a “why do?” guy as opposed to a “can do” guy.
He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I took it as one.
I figured out early on that I wasn’t cut out to be a neurosurgeon or fighter pilot.
So I kinda aimed low my whole life. It worked for me.
Sure, I sucked it up and put in a 32-year career at the local newspaper.
I showed up every day, including holidays, blizzards and hurricanes.
I won a few awards along the way (journalists love to give each other awards).
I even may have written a piece or two that meant something to somebody for a moment.
Now, however, I’m “retired” (at least from newspapers), after what I will judiciously call a dispute with my new editor and publisher about the value of talent in newspaper journalism today.
My wife and I get by just fine on her salary and my small pension. Anybody in newspapers for the past 20 years who didn’t prepare for a sudden loss of paycheck is a fool. I was prepared.
I live in a small house that’s paid for – that helps. In fact, I abided by the single-most important rule regarding financial well-being: “One house, one spouse.”
I bought a small ranch house, made some additions as the kids grew, and eventually paid it off.
My wife and I have been married 35 years.
My kids got through college without too much in loans, and all three have good jobs.
Yes, I have been lucky.
Now, I’m coming off the most fun summer I’ve had since I was 13, which was probably the last time I didn’t work those glorious three months of June, July and August here at the Jersey shore.
Every day, I ran on the boardwalk, swam laps, went to the gym or took a long bicycle ride.
I gladly became what my wife has always wanted – a wife of her own.
I shopped and cleaned, did the laundry and ran our errands. And every afternoon, I picked up my 4-year-old granddaughter from camp, and we went to get ice cream or jump waves at the beach.
I loved it all. How could you not?
But it’s got me thinking about this ambition thing again – whether I still have a distinct lack of it.
I’m afraid I do.
I may not be completely comfortable with the idea of not working at all. A “retirement job” of some kind is in my future, no doubt. But nothing too taxing, I hope.
The world needs a little less ambition, and I’m here to do my part.
Sure, the world needs some ambitious people.
But it’s worth noting that ambition has given us products like New Coke, men like Donald Trump and war after war.
And just once wouldn’t it be nice to see someone take over a company that makes one of your favorite products and hear her say, “I’m not going to change much here. Things seem to be going pretty well.”
Ambition certainly doesn’t seem to make the ambitious particularly happy.
By definition, they cannot be content with who they are and what they have.
And the world seems to encourage them to inflict their desire for advancement on the rest of us.
How many workers’ lives are shaped by the boss’s desire to dress up his résumé so he can compete for a better job, a bigger salary, a bigger house and a Porsche?
To all you ambitious folks out there: Enough.
I’ll gladly concede that you all “win.” Just leave the rest of us alone.
I’m going for a bike ride now.