In the right dose, ambition works wonders. It inspires you to achieve more, to stretch yourself beyond the comfort zone, and provides the motivation to keep going when the going gets tough. Rightfully so, ambition is universally revered.
But ambition also has a dark, addictive side that’s rarely talked about.
I just finished 2nd in the ultra-competitive LMP2 category of the greatest motor race in the world: 24 hours of Le Mans. That’s a monumental achievement by almost any standards, yet also one of the least enjoyable experiences I’ve had driving a race car — all because of ambition.
Armed with the fastest and most reliable car, the best-prepared team, and two of the fastest team mates in the business, it simply wasn’t possible to enter the race with anything less than the top step of the podium in mind. Add to that leading much of the race, and a storming comeback to first position after my mistake, it compounded to an all-out focus on the win and nothing but.
That’s exactly the danger of what too much ambition can do: Narrow the range of acceptable outcomes to the ridiculous, and then make anything less seem like utter failure. It’s irrational, but so are most forms of psychological addiction. You can’t break the spell merely by throwing logic at it.
Apologies for the long quote, but it was nicely written and David has got an interesting take on the concept, so here.