The Cost of Ambition

By: Barrett Snyder defines ambition as “an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealthy, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.” Each and every one of us possesses some degree of ambition that steers our desire in achieving or protecting what we view as most sacred and meaningful in our life. It is not my intention to lecture or bore you with an essay that reads parallel to that of a motivational speech. There are enough of those (actually too many of those) on YouTube and elsewhere. I am not sold on the concept of “motivation,” believing that it frequently comes and goes and is often a result of external factors or someone else’s narrative. If you need a motivational speech to get yourself fired up to train, than you are lacking the essential ingredients that all world-class athletes possess. It is ambition, not motivation, which is necessary for every world-class athlete to exceed expectations, win gold and raise the bar up a notch. Without ambition, you only have a dream, an idea and a fairytale. Ambition does not involve bar crawls or excessive alcohol consumption. It does not involve hangovers, it does not win any popularity contests and it most certainly does not always include being understood or accepted by others. Ambition involves trial and error, reading, research, five friends (if you are lucky), constant rejection, multiple lonely days and even more lonely nights. Our level of ambition is often a direct result of not how hard we work, but instead, how much we are willing to give up and sacrifice. If you are unable to stand-alone, stand with confident, stand comfortably in your own skin and wait (weeks, months and even years) patiently in silence, for eventual glory, then you have no business standing in the first place.

Tom Brady did not start on his high school Junior Varsity football team that previously compiled a record of 0 and 8. His best sport in High School was not football; it was baseball, having been drafted by the Montreal Expo’s in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB draft. He enrolled at the University of Michigan to play football and was the 7th string Quarterback when he arrived in Ann Arbor. Eventually, he was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft and his combine report read: Poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and strength, lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm, can’t drive the ball downfield, does not throw a really tight spiral and gets knocked down easily. Interestingly enough, 17 years later, he is now the most victorious Quarterback in NFL history. That is ambition at its finest.

I am unable to present you with a mathematical equation that will guarantee success, but I can share with you various formulas I believe will reinforce the chance of increased long-term success. We must first accept the notion that there is no ideal workout or diet that will apply perfectly to two or more individuals. Each workout, each program and each diet, must be altered based on the individuals needs, strengths, weaknesses and goals. Programming for success requires an individualistic needs analysis approach that cannot be overlooked. Although a difficult concept for many coaches to remember (surprisingly), it is vital to recognize that no two people are identical in every way. Bodies recover at different rates, stress at different levels and grow at varying times. Although it is often beneficial to seek guidance from others, we are and will always be, the single greatest experts and advocates of ourselves as athletes and human being.

Information is a useful tool to have, but only through trial and error will we be able to implement the information necessary to maximize our potential. When you expose yourself to the world and allow others to bear witness to your abilities, you will undoubtedly create within others, feelings of bitterness, jealously, and insecurity. Your success will force others (although they will never admit it) to second guess their own choices and begin to wonder why they aren’t following your lead. The resentment you will experience from others may be difficult to endure initially, but spending your life worrying about the trivial feelings of others will prevent you from any breakthroughs you might be capable of attainting. Worry is a fear we assemble within us, it is a choice and it is a sin to allow the manifestation of worry determine how we live our life and the choices we make. The most talented in any industry would rather be respected than liked and their priority lies solely with greatness and achievement. It is not as though they do not want others to like them; they simply just do not care enough to waste time worrying about who likes and who does not like them. Part of this is due to the fact that masters of their craft are driven from within and are primarily concerned with self-improvement. This involves holding yourself to the highest standards and choosing to judge yourself versus prior versions of yourself. If you begin comparing yourself to others, you have already lost. Comparing yourself to others forces you to compare yourself to variables that are out of your control. The reflection in the mirror is the only individual that needs to be challenged constantly. Many fail to comprehend the notion that life is filled with trade-offs everywhere you look. Once you decide to become an expert in your designated role, you will find the impulse of trying to live a balanced life in jeopardy very quickly. In simpler terms, when you are in full-blown attack mode, the idea that you will be able to maintain a balanced life will become just that, an idea. Eventually you will come to realize that the balance between work and life is only a myth suited for those who elect to underachieve. I believe many of us within society have a substantial fear of being labeled an “outsider” or “different.” It has been instilled in all of us that if you don’t follow the norm and if you dare to challenge or question authority, than there is something terribly wrong with you. This is an ass-backwards way of thinking and this is where society gets it wrong. At no time should you stop and attempt to become ordinary. If you choose to be normal, to conform and to follow the marching order, you will never know what true glory feels like. You will only experience a short-lived bout of your potential. Don’t be afraid to be different, to challenge conventional wisdom and stand alone while others mock and point fingers. When you have a certain recognizable desire, drive and ambition, others will be very envious of this and try to pull you back to conformity. Do not allow them to do this. Instead, truly believe in the notion that it is acceptable to be obsessed with your passion and it is acceptable to give 100% of yourself everyday. We all have a sense of masterful skills within us and we can all become experts in our craft.  However, this is not without consequences. When someone decides, really decides to become a master of their craft, there will be inherent sacrifices that become completely unavoidable. There are not enough hours in the day to balance work, friends, leisure, vacation and family time. Whichever decision you elect to make, be aware that it will come at the expense of other variables. My advice? If you are following the crowd, do yourself a favor and turn around.