Judge explained that ambitious people who were successful in school and at work lived longer; however, ambitious people who did not find success in these areas lived shorter lives. “So, if one is to be ambitious, one had better insure that they translate it into success. Otherwise, they may experience the negative effects without any of the positive.”
However, despite their successes, he noted that they were not successful in terms of what might be considered the most important variables: happiness and longevity of life. He explained that even though ambitious people ought to have the happiest lives in the world because they attain so much, they were only slightly happier than the “slackers” and lived for about the same length of time. However, those that did not attain successful careers were less happy and significantly more likely to die before less ambitious people.
The study did note that ambition strongly correlated with educational and occupational success. Judge noted, “We think that ambitious people set very high standards for themselves and when they achieve success, they raise those standards further. If this is true, ironically, the very thing that makes people successful is also what tends to negate the ability of those things to make them happy. If an ambitious person keeps raising his or her goals after every success, then it’s a bit like Sisyphus in Greek mythology: He rolls the boulder up the hill, only to have it roll down the hill so as to push it back up again.”
The most interesting line for me is this one -- "Judge explained that ambitious people who were successful in school and at work lived longer; however, ambitious people who did not find success in these areas lived shorter lives."
Ambition is a real bitch of a thing. If you succeed, you get slightly more happy and live longer. But if you gear up on it, and don't succeed, then you get absolutely crushed.
A great girl I've known for years, she had three jobs when I met her, plus being an athlete and hyper-active in all areas of life.
We had a joke between us -- "Life is hard, let's go to the bar."
When one of us would be complaining about... how hard it is to sell, or more costs, or how great work can get rejected, or how ungrateful people are, or all the taxes we'd have to pay after doing a ton of work, or... whatever...
...then we'd joke, "Life is hard, let's go to the bar."
Life's different for ambitious people. You're taking a hell of a gamble. You can't even credibly say it's a smart play, to play the ambitious game. But if you're in, well then. Burn more midnight oil, invent more, enterprise more, recruit more, sell more, do more...
...and even your own damn brain won't appreciate you enough!
Well, life is hard. Shall we go to the bar?
Great post and great links in the two comments above. Thanks, actually helpful since I an in the crisis of meaning stage at the moment myself.
Very true. I have two siblings, one very driven who has ended up near the top of an investment bank, but they got there because they were never content or happy, always going for the next goal, the next deal. The other has retrained, teaches part time, and has always been content and happy, and has the innate ability to "just do enough" and "earn just enough"
I know which one is happier and will live longer
Work life balance. Neil Strauss had a great post on it if you haven't read it yet.
I struggle with wanting to be successful and not hating myself.
Then again.. Entrepreneurs are known to be maniac depressive.. so I guess it just comes with the territory.
I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.
A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.
It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.
I've been hearing a lot about the concept of Leaning In based upon Sheryl Sandberg's (COO of Facebook) book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013) and how it is a call to arms for ambitious women to lead successful lives. Yet, many people (who are women) find fault in the advice held within the book. If this is not the strategy for Women Leaders (or if we as women can't agree that it is), than what is and what are we supposed to do to bridge the female leadership gap in the workplace?
I had a working mother and as such I spent a lot of time in daycares. At one particular day care when I was still very young the director took my mother aside when she came to pick me up and discussed whether I would be a better fit at another facility. When a mother asked why she was told that I was bossy and didn't get along with the other children. My mother told her what she thought was bossy was really miss taken initiative. I haven't been accused much of being bossy since then, but that could be a sign of what Sandberg says society indoctrinates into girls to prevent them from becoming the leaders they can be. In the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook Sandberg says that the label boxes put upon young girls and early age to reinforce a double standard currently seen that we all know this in the workplace. Where little girl is bossy a little boys praised for being ambitious or having leadership skills.
“When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy,” she writes. “Boys are seldom bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend.” (2013)
Sandberg promotes the idea that women should have a mission work hard to gain leadership roles, negotiate and lead like their male counterparts.
Yet there are many critics that state the concept of leaning in is an oxymoron in itself, claiming that a woman leaning in will ultimately jeopardize her success instead of achieving it. In a study done by sociology professors at the University of Toronto (Shieman, Schafer, McIvor, 2013) it was found that many women in authority positions felt they had little influence and autonomy - they also did not find their job to be very rewarding. It was also stated in this study that women found that at times excuses were made to justify their positions and there was a culture of "tokenism" among granting women high ranking positions.