In what ways can success and ambition be dangerous?
Since our birth, we are encouraged to go forward, to reach farther and to shoot for higher goals in life. In the words of Donald Trump: “Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff.” But, are ambition and pursuit for success turning into an obsession nowadays? The authors Lotte Bailyn, Karen Heller and William Zinsser agree that they are, and unfortunately, I have to endorse their idea. All three authors’ view that, as Heller put it “…there’s a new, pure drug on the street. It’s called ambition…” (p. 121) is valid in my opinion. As Zinsser states, ambition is necessary, but we tend to let the “dream of ‘getting ahead’ “(p. 132) dim our perception. Sadly, more and more people are drawn into the vicious circle of striving towards a life paved with achievements and praises from other people, forgetting that, by blindly following the paths of accomplishments at work, one can lose things more valuable, such as love, family and emotional fulfillment. Bailyn gives the example of Nancy Wright, a very successful businesswoman, who neglected her family life in order to progress up the rungs and then regretted that decision. In Nancy’s words: “If I had to do it all over again, I think I would do things very differently…” (p. 167). Just like Nancy, many people tend to lose themselves in their work, only to get disappointed later on and realize the dangers of life driven by too much ambition. They sometimes lose chances for happy family or love life, for friendships, calmness, or just the opportunity to be better and more fulfilled persons. Like all three authors, I believe that living a happy life is not equal to material success. Just like Nancy Wright intimated, it is more important to be a remembered, beloved person, than a forgotten overachiever.
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