Are we witnessing the death of ambition?

What kind of society puts down people who want to achieve as much as they can? A backward one. I find it ridiculous that some of us seem to want others of us to apologize for achieving great success, or for rising to great heights in many spheres of life. When successful people are treated as pariahs in our country, then we have just given ambition a life sentence, at best, and a death sentence, at worse.

Major political parties do not try to win a few seats; they try to win as many seats as possible; and all if they could. The fact that they believe that they will lose some seats does not stop them from trying to win all. Are they greedy? They are not called that; and if they win, they are celebrated as great political institutions and their leaders, great strategists. Politicians don’t often try to win just one term or two; they try to win as many terms as possible; and some will only leave, it seems, in a casket carried by pallbearers. Are they greedy? They are not called that; they are hailed as successful career politicians.

The athlete who goes to two, three, four, or five Olympic games is not considered greedy, but a great champion; an enduring competitor. He or she does not seek to win one gold medal, but as many as possible. Is he or she greedy? No one calls them that; they are called ambitious. What about the individual who gets two or three doctoral degrees; or who obtains thirty or forty patents; or creates more than one hundred apps? Do we call these people greedy? No we don’t; we call them successful. How about Warren Buffet and others who are in hundreds of businesses and investments, and who have earned billions upon billions of dollars? Are they greedy? Do they want everything? Or are these people plying their craft to the best of their ability and wildly succeeding at it?

Who does not want to succeed wildly? What teacher, engineer, athlete, scientist, physician, student, or preacher does not want to succeed wildly? God does not want some men to be saved, he wants “all” to be saved. Is God greedy? No! To want to succeed wildly at that which is good or noble is not a vice; it is a virtue; and it is stupid for anyone to suggest otherwise. If we in this country start putting down people for achieving and achieving wildly, we might as well shut down every school, stop telling our children to aim high, and make poverty and failure our national past time. Frankly, sometimes I think that is what we are doing now, and may be the reason we are achieving so much of it.

Ambition is no shame. Achievement is no vice. Wild success is no failing. Ambition, achievement and success should be honored and promoted, in all areas of life, including wealth building and business. The Bahamian who nobly pursues an idea and does the fine work of turning it into a wildly successful business should be honored. If they happen to have a passion for politics or religion, or something else and excels at that, then wonderful, so long as they do good for the society. If they continue to pursue wealth and business in order to continue to wildly succeed, then good for them. The master rewards the servant who grows his talents the most, rather than the one who, in false humility and fear, buries it in the ground, and grows it little. In fact, he takes from the latter and gives to the former. Ambition is no shame. Achievement is no vice.

Only a small mind scoffs at ambition. Only a jealous soul mocks achievement. Only a wicked heart does not want others to be wildly successful at their craft the way it is successful at its craft. If you are a Bahamian desirous of becoming outrageously successful, good for you. If you are achieving awesome success, good for you. If you want to own and buy up as many businesses as you can and lead them to unbelievable success, good for you. You are the type citizen we need, and I pray that you and more like you flourish.

Contributed by: Zhivargo Laing
• Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.

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