It’s OK to Be Ambitious

You can’t get in great physical shape by doing nothing, by being lazy and unmotivated. So why do we think we can get anything else by doing nothing, by being lazy and unmotivated – but even worse – by being jealous of those who’ve done the work & gotten the results we want?

I start with a confession: I once looked at others who are privileged or successful, and wished I was in their shoes. That is, until I came to the life-altering conclusion that we get what we deserve, we make what we choose to make; nothing more, nothing less. 

This is liberating. It frees us to enjoy not only our own success, but everyone else’s success as well, all the while providing us with the realization that if we aren’t where we want to be, it’s because we haven’t done what is necessary to get there – yet.

It’s a lot easier not to hold resentment toward others when you’re successful, but that’s not when you need to get rid of it most. It needs to flee long before your sunny days arrive; instead, we need to get rid of it while amidst our darkest days. Why? This is when our true selves show. In times of tribulation, when we’re struggling, our honor, courage, or lack of either will show.

When we’re at our lowest we have our greatest opportunity to be  our strongest, to develop the attitude of self-reliance and hard work, and get rid of the easy, lazy attitudes like jealousy and resentment.

Being jealous is easy. It gives us an excuse why someone else is successful, and we’re not. Jealousy is our inner self rationalizing our lack of success when the truth is that we don’t deserve success, and those who have it do because they worked for it. Period.

Stop crying and start working.

Does that mean the best, brightest people on the planet are making the most money or enjoying the most success? No. There are a lot of ass holes and scumbags rolling in dollar bills. Whether they did it in a good way or in an underhanded way, we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter, they did what was necessary to reach the success they wanted. They have, and will have, what they deserve in life. Whether that’s money, success, an empire, or loneliness as they age. They – and we – will be treated as they treat others. They – and we – will be rewarded for what we have given other people – whether that’s value, or a means to earn their keep. We all get what we



And such is the intro to the article…

I’ve been wanting to write this article for some time. What initially gave me the idea for the topic was the occupy movement. Then came the Presidential election in the U.S. and the influx of personal stances I’d see on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t write it then because of both events. People were – and probably still are – blindly passionate about issues they don’t care to read into, and a hate was brewing towards a group of people; a hate I wanted no part of. Plus I didn’t feel like reading comments attacking me personally, or the even more profane emails that I was sure to get.

Now, though, both events are in the past, and I’d like to cover this topic… with a disclaimer.


This isn’t a political article. While politics may have brought this issue to my attention, it wasn’t the actual politicians or their beliefs that irked me, rather the passionate please of some of the public. With regards to politics in the social sense, if you’ve read my articles before, you know I’m old school. I can be a tad archaic in how I think, and how I live my life. However, I don’t feel I have the right to tell anyone else how they can live – in any sense. So I don’t.

In short, don’t get your panties in a knot because of a perceived slight in this article. It’s perceived, not intentional. Disclaimer finito.

What did ruffle my feathers about the occupy movement, and the November election, is the growing hatred and resentment towards the successful. Forget the desire to have the rich give a bigger piece of the pie. Forget about the politics, even the stats for a moment, and think about the mood behind the march. Social programs are awesome, we need them, don’t get me wrong. Corruption is bad, very bad. However, the sheer number of people blindly – and ignorantly – chanting for a bigger piece of the pie, having done nothing to earn it is disheartening. It also echoes the growing resentment of the many towards the few.

And I get it. Many, many people have been screwed by a corporation, even by an investor. But this jealousy and resentment gets us nowhere! We need more people to love innovation, ambition, and success. Without it we’d literally still be in the dark.

Where Would We Be Without Ambition?

Without ambitious, successful, hard-working risk-takers, our society would have nothing. Where many of us lose focus issuccess babe ruth in seeing where these innovators came from. 85% of all millionaires are self made for shit’s sake! Each of the following revolutionary thinkers didn’t come from a life of luxury, but had to claw, scrounge, and hustle their way to greatness.

Booker T. Washington: a man born into slavery who built over 5,000 schools, became an advisor to Republican Presidents, and founded the National Negro Business League. All he had to work with was a peanut. He added amazing value to society by finding numerous, unheard of ways to make use of simple peanuts.

Steve Jobs: a foster child grew up to become the founder of the biggest and most successful public company the world has ever seen.

Bette Nesmith Graham: a longtime secretary and single mother who became a multi-millionaire and financier of a think-tank aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Guy Laliberte (Cirque du Soleil): a street performer who went on to start an international circus arts performance employing 5,000 people worldwide.

Thomas Edison: a man who was told he lacked creative insight, and failed 10,000 times, who went on to invent the light-bulb and found 14 companies which included General Electric.

The End of Ambition

I’ve used Steven Pressfield’s definition of ambition before, and I’ll use it again. It’s one of the best definitions I’ve ever read. It illustrates just how great ambition is and why we should not fear it, but run toward it.

Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence. ~ Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

Somewhere along the line jealousy took the place of ambition. Where we once praised the ambitious, we now want what they’ve worked and sacrificed for – for nothing. We, as a society, are not only becoming more jealous, but lazier too. Why? Why, all of a sudden, have the masses moved from loving ambition and hard work and praising those who have the balls to follow that little voice that tells them they can have and be something better?

Is it because of tough times? I don’t think so. We’ve had tough times before, and instead of giving up, men and women put their heads down and worked. There’s no single reason for this move toward a hatred of the successful – because that’s what jealousy is, hatred and lust for what they have and we don’t. I want your take on this topic in the comments section.

The Death of Competition

This is at the root of the problem, along with the success of our parents. Like no generation before, the baby-boomers enjoyed much success and prosperity. The children they raised were given a lot. They now expect a lot. And by given, I mean given, not rewarded or paid due to their exceptional work, but given.

Competition, whether in sport, business, even schooling, has slowly disappeared.

Mark Zuckerberg had the idea for Facebook. He then took every necessary step and risk to make it what it is today. Same with Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. Same with Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie, and Bill Gates. Idea + hard work + risk + a bit of luck and timing, and in time, they’re billionaires.

They faced a lot of competition on their rise. It’s competition that made them great, and made their service great. But in our schools, competition is a dirty word. Participation is becoming its replacement. It isn’t the strongest, smartest, hardest-working person who wins, and earns praise for winning, but the lazy kid who doesn’t care to work hard who will be rewarded for merely participating. .

This attitude has gone from our classrooms into the real world. People don’t want to work, they simply want.

Hundreds marched, carrying signs like “the 90%”, screaming “Why do they deserve to have all of that money?! They should share!” I realize that I’m focusing on a few. But there’s a rising resentment in local pubs and social circles that calls for more, with less done to deserve that more.

We’re getting lazier, less ambitious, and less focused instead of the opposite, when what we need is unbridled ambition and a sickening work ethic to succeed, it’s becoming unpopular to have it. Vacations are monthly, bought on money we don’t have.

Hard work needs to be cool. Laziness, and the jealousy that somehow comes with it, instead, is.

Success should never be the enemy. The moment success isn’t praised, we all lose. The moment we don’t praise hard work and results over participation and simply showing up is the day we all suffer.

Be ambitious. The world needs more ambitious, hard-working people. We need more innovators, creative minds, and risk-takers. We need more businessmen. Hell, we need more men! 

The purpose of this article is to open a different avenue. To start you on a path that will lead to your future success, rather than being jealous of another person’s success. Now, most of the readers visiting this site are ambitious people already. Hopefully this gives you a kick in the ass and propels you to stop complaining – like we all do – and instead work. Whatever your path in life, whatever your dream, goal, or the object of your ambition, respect it enough to give it everything you have to achieve it. I now open the floodgates: your thoughts please…

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  • Vincent

    I agree completely with the view of this article. Although I think the stronger shoulders can and should wear the heaviest weight (ie. progressive taxing for individuals for example), it shouldn’t go to a weight where the hard work doesn’t pay off anymore. The possibility for financial succes should be obtainable with hard work. It is, and always will be, an huge incentive to work hard. Great article.

    • Chad Howse

      Thanks Vincent. Great point. Hard work needs to be the ideal, the thing that gets praised, and those results rewarded – ESPECIALLY if that hard work leads to providing jobs for others, and a way for other members of a society. Progressive taxing is all good, no problem with that. It’s the mood, the hatred towards the successful that I’m weary of.

      • Vincent

        Indeed, giving back to the community should be a moral obligation when you are a gifted individual, but it should not be a condition to be respected when you are succesful.

        The growing hatred towards the successful is a problem that I think, like you say in your article, is mostly because of jealousy and laziness. Jealousy alone isn’t a big problem, its how you act upon it. If you can turn that jealousy in positive energy to work harder to achieve te same, it can be a good thing. If you are jealous and think you should have the same as the people who work much more and harder then you, and try to convince the world that that should be the way the world is, it gets bad. Then you get a world that gets more like the former communist countries.

        A capitalistic democracy, where succes is obtainable but there is a bit of a safety net for people who lose their jobs or business because of economic problems or health issues for example, like most of the world has already implemented, is the best possible world in my opinion. And although I respect other views, the people who sit in a camp on Wall Street for months should take a hard look at theirselves and start to think differently. We have the opportunity to achieve and obtain everything we need, so they should get a job / degree / business of their own and put in the work to achieve what they would like to have for doing nothing. And not yell fuck corporate America while they use their Apple Macbooks and other expensive gadgets that their parents worked hard for. (I know not all of them are like that, but looking at some footage from different sources I see a big group of people like that in most countries where welfare is high.)

      • Vincent

        Maybe a bit of a hatred rant of myself when I read the piece, but the you understand the basic sentement of the post.

      • Chad Howse

        Haha very well said Vincent! Check out this video. Ideally, this is what capitalism is in my mind. Capitalism, in the crash, didn’t lead to corruption, actually the opposite. Check it out.

      • Vincent

        Thats a good video and a very skilled professor. And indeed, less regulations, tariffs, import quota’s and government interference that protect businesses would be a lot better for the common human being. It is a very interesting topic and it is strange that there is (a growing?) group of people that are against the capitalistic system like dr. Miron talks about in the video.

        Thanks for the link, it seems that the YT channel from the video above has a lot of interesting mini-seminars. Small chance I’m ever going to Harvard, might as well look it up on YouTube then.

      • Chad Howse

        Ya I checked it out as well. Cool channel for sure.

  • Brent cue

    Great article Chad, well written, tempered and spot on. It can be difficult trying to find the balance between rewarding participation versus winning, but I agree that the pendulum may have swung too far in favour of reward for just showing up.

    There is still a large amount of people all over the world willing to do the work, but you only have to look at the amount of debt that people and countries for that matter go into to have what they want, now. Delayed gratification can be a difficult skill to learn, but one which is for those that have it know all too well it’s rewards.

    Be ambitious, be willing, be bold and may the rewards you deserve come your way

    • Chad Howse

      You hit the nail on the head. Delayed gratification is a fossil. No one really understands it anymore. Why wait when I can have it now and pay later?

      Thanks Brent.

  • James

    America has 313 million people. 50% receive some form of government payments.
    49 million are on food stamps. Most people have been domesticated to the point that they can’t fish, they have to be given their fish. I was in the grocery store yesterday and the lady in front of me was using food stamps. In the parking lot I noticed her car was a brand new SUV. I drive a 1998 Toyota(by choice). The power structure uses dependancy as a tool to control the population.

    • Chad Howse

      That’s insane!! And ridiculous. Great comment.

  • Tom

    Wait…this was written by a Canadian?! I completely agree with this article! Great way of laying everything out, Chad. I’ll have to pick up Pressfield’s book after my workout – you got my psyched up!

    • Chad Howse

      Haha yes yes. A Canadian. Thanks man, and grab that book!

  • Stephen

    Nice article. I completely agree that the majority have lost their will to work for success. Many do expect it to be given to them.

    • Chad Howse

      Thanks Stephen.

  • Victor Balasa

    “chanting for a bigger piece of the pie, having done nothing to earn it”. You really should visit Romania Chad. The phenomenon you’re talking about is manifesting tenfold here.

    Coming out of a communist/socialist dictatorship, when we were ruled by a fuckin’ peasant, people expect the state to feed them, cloth them or make sure they have a nice paying job with the governing party. It’s all fucked up, but that’s how it is. The mentality of the majority will win over the minority, regardless of it being right or wrong.

    That’s a drawback with democracy. You will have stupid 99% gatherings yelling at the “poor” millionaire driving in his Lamborghini, who sacrificied personal life and dedicated incredible mental focus to achieve what he has.

    Heck, they yell at me ‘cuz I got a Mercedes and Lexus, knowing nothing about what it took to afford those. It’s all fucked up.

    I blame it all on the mentality of the majority.
    Maybe an illuminated dictatorship is what is need.

    • Chad Howse

      That’s insane Victor. I’m not sure what the solution is. Dictatorships have never worked, but that masses don’t have their head’s screwed on straight. The world, on the whole, is in a tough spot right now. People are losing their shirts, then getting pissed off that those who did what it took to make something more of themselves.

  • David Liss

    I agree with the general spirit of the article. You can’t be successful without hard work, determination and a willingness to stare down failure. I’ve been very lucky (luck helps too) to be able to make and maintain career in a very difficult field that I love, and I am only here because I reached the conclusions you point to long ago and decided I was willing to do what it takes. That said, I absolutely object to your characterization of the goals and motivations of the Occupy movement. I can’t speak for everyone in the movement, of course, but the philosophy behind
    it is not a hatred of the rich or a desire to take what is theirs. It is based on the fact that America’s economic system is skewed so that the rich can get richer and the middle class and poor can’t get by. People believe a lot of myths about the past, but I can assure you the only period of American history in which there was a strong and growing middle class was between the end of WWII and the 1970s recession, when taxes on the rich were high and social programs were expansive. This system was not about handing things out to people, but creating an economic
    climate where people who worked hard could have good lives in exchange. That is what people in the movement want, not to work in a system that makes it virtually impossible for all but a very few to succeed. Ambition is great, and people who have the vision and drive and desire to break out and achieve great things are to be commended. But some people just want to work and spend time with their families and live their lives. Not everyone has to be ambitious, and people should be able to support themselves by their labor in an economic system in which the lives of workers are at least as important as growth in quarterly earnings.

    • Chad Howse

      Thanks for the comment David. I wanted to stay away from the politics of it. I do, however, think that capitalism – true capitalism – benefits us all. Even the poor and those that don’t have the wherewithal to rise above on their own.

      However, I was commenting more on the mood of the march. I heard the one in New York, as well as the one here in Vancouver, and it was disgusting. It was a collection of the greediest, laziest, most hate-filled people I’d ever seen. There WERE those who had great points and knew why they were there – all of the valid points you mentioned. But a large number of the marchers were just filled with envy and hate. The things they were chanting weren’t about bringing back the middle class, or even bringing back more social programs, it was simply, I want what they have. I deserve what they have simply because I’m a citizen.

      That’s not the goal of the movement, I know. But the goal of the movement isn’t what I’m talking about, the mood of it is.

      Thanks for the comment, great point.

  • Mike Harris

    Your article is spot on, Chad. Excellent writing too. When I was growing up in east Tennessee with a divorced mom raising four kids it never occurred to any of us not to work. We didn’t have squat and couldn’t afford college but we went anyway, working our way through. I ended up with an MBA from a prestigious university and have had a terrific career. Me and my siblings are all living lives that are way, way beyond what we were born into. I will tell you to this day I am never more happy and at peace than when I am engaged in that which occupies my mind, body and soul fully. It’s called work whether I’m consulting with CEOs, building houses in the slums of Tijuana to give to poor families or at a board meeting for a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence get out of their situations and back on their feet. Freud said it best: “to love and to work” are the criteria for mental health.

    • Chad Howse

      That’s great to hear man. That’s the kind of attitude that’s disappearing. Glad you’re on the site, thanks Mike.

  • Bruce Daeschner

    Awesome article -I agree- just picked up -The War of Art- by the way it is George Washington Carver with the peanuts- not Booker T Washington. Booker T hired GWC to teach agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute.

    • Chad Howse

      I’ll blame my editor for that one, he added that to the article. I’ll change that.

  • Kevin

    Hey Chad,

    Thanks for the inspiring read, this really couldn’t have come at a better time. Just a few weeks ago following the elections I had a discussion with a successful entrepreneur and business owner on just this exact issue. He’s been a risk taker his whole life and worked his ass off to get where he is and feels that this feeling of entitlement by the general public is the biggest flaw in our current system. Granted there are situations where extreme circumstances truly force people to overcome huge adversity, but living in this country we’re blessed with so much more opportunity than others from all over the world.

    I am not a wealthy man and certainly not a millionaire, in fact I’m not even close. However, I know that I will be successful and earn my place in due time. Your mention of embracing the ambitious/successful mindset and letting go of all jealousy before your success comes is the key to achievement. Coming to terms with your situation and knowing that you are where you’re supposed to be and you’ve done what’s necessary to get to that point, nothing more and nothing less. When others are successful congratulate them and try to learn a thing or two from the encounter. I also agree with your idea that success doesn’t always have a monetary value, personal values and happiness come much higher on that list.

    My point is, that I have to work for what I’ve got and it’s saddening to see how so many feel entitled and hold their hand out expecting to take without ever giving anything in return.

    When I take this issue and apply it to the global scale, we are essentially cheating ourselves. Everyone on this planet is here to live a life and in order to do so they must be part of a community and add value to society to earn their keep.

    After watching a discovery channel special the other day, the members of the tribe who don’t contribute or provide simply get left to die. This sounds harsh and obviously we’ve come a long ways from that stark reality, but the fundamental principals are unchanged.

    When X % of society is creating 100% of the value, while the remaining members of society create 0% of the value yet expect some benefit in return.

    Essentially, the net value or net good that can be done in society is lower while those who are creating it must provide for all those who don’t.

    To summarize my thoughts, I completely agree with your words here and think it’s bold to come out and say it.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from Seth Godin, the author of Tribes.

    “The yin and yang are clear: without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it’s unlikely to be worth the journey. Persist.”

    P.S. If you haven’t read any of his books I’d highly recommend you do so, I think you’d enjoy them.


    • Chad Howse

      Thanks Kevin, really appreciate it. Glad it came at a good time as well. Great, great quote as well. I’ve read Godin before, need to read more.

  • Trevor Wilson

    Damn straight it’s ok to be ambitious! It should be a fucking requirement.
    Where would the world be without men of ambition? How did ambition become such a crime?
    Without ambition we are nothing more than a lazy useless waste of life. Ambition provides fuel for innovation. Ambition gives us strength to press on. Ambition is the backbone of all progress.
    The ambitious should be celebrated, not decried.

    • Chad Howse

      Love it bro! Thanks. And AGREED.

  • RevBud

    +Good Article. Boils down to Gospel of Luke 7: 37.

    • Chad Howse

      I’ll check both out, thanks Bud.

  • RevBud

    Good story. Follows up with Luke 6:37.

  • Janette

    I’m Australian Chad, and I agree as well! Gone are the days where kids earned they’re pocket money by doing chores, which gave them a sense of self worth and pride and ultimately ecouraged them to be Go Getters.Now we’re just expected to give our kids everything and anything they want or we’re bad parents! The media has had a lot to do with this (buy this for your kids or you’re a bad parent…….Get this or you’re depriving your children somehow…. and the unadulterated marketing goes further….They even market directly to children……Get this and you will be popular etc……Don’t be a social outcast, make sure you have this app, this product, listen to this music) kids today are so preoccupied with being SOCIALLY accepted that they spend all thier time online instead of going out and achieving, working, earning, living! this leads to the haves (those that have everything given to them by their hard working, high achieving, high earning parents) and those who want what those people have……Society, in it’s never ending quest to Molly coddle our children by wrapping them up in cottonwool, have made a new society of wimps who don’t know the first thing about survival in the big world! Kids stay home till they’re in their 30’s these days coz they can’t make it on their own. Or they constantly need help from their parents just to survive. We owe it to our children to teach them how to survive. This means giving them a sense of self worth, by making them EARN what they get, which leads to ambition, which leads to achievement…. Only then can we stop this “Jealousy of success” that Chad keeps talking about….. sorry for the long winded comment but this is a really serious problem that touches the core of my being….I can only be thankful that we made our girls earn things…So now they are survivors and are working and achieving in society!

    • Chad Howse

      Well said, and well done Janette! Great comment, great points. Thanks for this.

  • jimmy

    It’s honestly pathetic the morals of the youth and the generation before us have. I’ll start by saying I’m 19 years old. I can personally tell you growing up in the Bronx (granted I had a middle class family) but I walk 4 blocks over and it’s one of the highest murder rates in the country. Simply put I’m from one of the most infamous places to grow up and it sickens me the way these people act. Lack of respect for themselves and everyone around them. I can’t tell you how many times I get into a fight just waiting for the train over some non-sense. It’s come to the point where I leave my headphones on full volume on the train and just tone out what goes on. The amount of cursing that goes around woman and children alike. This all ties into people have come to truly believe they are entitled to something. Human beings due to self-narcissistic perceptions come to think that they are owed anything. Men are not giving food, land, shelter, money etc. We aren’t giving “basic human rights.” No where is it a code given to us by a deity or written in the Earth that all men are equal and should be free. With that being I said I believe in human rights obviously and that all men should have the right to be free and treated equally, but my point is we had to fight for those rights. I’m talking about America here and no other country as I don’t have an experience with them. America was founded by men fighting for freedom key word fighting for freedom. And now we piss on their graves by expecting food to given to us. Can you imagine what fucking George Washington is thinking in his grave right now. Probably saying you fucking pussies what did I risk my life for.

    Now everyone wants to blame everyone else for something. People blame being oppressed for years, say they grew up poor, they didn’t have the chance to make. Whole lot of bullshit I hear from people. If you want something bad enough you will fucking make it happen. It might take longer than the rich kid, it might be a harder road, and if your not from the inner circles your going to put down. But you are better off than the rich kid if you did not grow up that way. If your coming from a lower or middle income home and you make it big without anything being handed to you, there will be a sense of accomplishment like you have never experienced in life. Personally I’m happy that I grew up in the Bronx and not Bronxville or Scarsdale like half the kids I went to high school with.

    • Chad Howse

      I just look at the fact that 85% of all millionaires are self-made. I think it’s more of a disservice to be born into privilege than it is to be born into a situation where you have to make something of yourself. Agree?

  • Martin

    This is a truly fantastic article…. very inspiring. It evokes real emotion that fuels profoundly positive change and developing a healthier mindset when it comes to ambition and hard work. Nicely done Chad!

    • Chad Howse

      Thanks a lot Martin. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Alex

    Love the article, but you should read into the background of Thomas Edison’s success. I think he might fall into the “jealous” category you mentioned.

    • Chad Howse

      Will do Alex. Thanks.

  • Nate Mihelis

    Well said!

  • Lee BlackHawk

    Well, pretty nice article as per usual. The one issue is, it wasn’t Booker T. Washington who came up with the multiple various uses for the peanut; that was Geaorge Washington Carver.

    • Chad Howse

      Ya I made the edit. My editor added that in there. Thanks Lee.

  • Lee BlackHawk

    Booker T. Washington didn’t come up with the various uses for the peanut; it was George Washington Carver. Aside from that, great article.

  • Lee BlackHawk

    Booker T. Washington didn’t come up with the various uses for the peanut; that was George Washington Carver. Other than that, great article, as per usual.

  • Mick

    Great article, this really is at a good time, I’ve made some big changes this year after a marriage seperation and have made a point of being somebody my kids and others are inspired by, now at 33 I’m fitter and healthier then I’ve ever been, I’m also lucky enough to work a job I love.
    I figure if I can put the same drive and dedication that I put into health, fitness and family into other aspects of my life, I can’t possibly fail.

    • Chad

      That’s tough to hear about the marriage man, sorry that had to happen. But the way you’ve turned it into something good, is inspiring. Thanks for the comment. You’re going to make those changes, I can see that.

  • Al Rymniak

    I believe it was George Washington Carver that worked with the peanut. I believe you have your black “Washington’s” mixed up. Not to say that Booker T wasn’t a great man.

  • hcat

    Um, I think you mixed up Booker T Washington and George Washington Carver!