Difference Between Ambition and Aspiration

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Ambition is that part of our emotions which craves for success. History has given it a negative connotation. Napoleon Bonaparte had an ambition: to become the ruler of Europe and consequently, the world. So did Alexander, William II and Hitler. This ambition drove them to massacre a million lives and thus the negative connotation arose. Aspiration on the other hand is described as the “will to succeed”. Having the Will to succeed is preferred over having a strong desire to succeed. Period. Aspiration is a form of desire tempered by thoughtfulness, integrity and a self-interest that takes into account the interests of others too. While ambition is focused totally on the goal, aspiration never loses sight of either the goal or the means used to attain it. Aspiration allows us to ‘breathe freely’ (assāsa, M.I,64) after we have achieved our goal, because we know we have done it without compromising our values or disadvantaging others. Strong desire will take you ahead by two steps. It is “will” that will take you all the way to achieving your goals. It is “will” that will be the defining difference between surviving and thriving in our present world. Having aspiration towards a higher cause will translate into achievement, something our peers will describe as success. The ambitious is content in being successful. But the aspiring knows that success is a by-product of their actions. As the youth transform into the wise, realization dawns upon us that we were ambitious primarily about material things – we wanted money, fame and power. But we aspired to live a happy life, to love our wife and kids and make a change in someone’s life, everyday. We now a see the true difference between ambition and aspiration – ambition is related to our baser goals while aspiration is more towards the ideal. The end of road to ambitions is success – an accomplishment or an acquisition of a worldly goal. But where does aspiration end? We aspire towards an ideal. Like the old saying...
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