Sunday, January 16, 2011

Today's fortune: January 16, 2011

Today's fortune: You have an ambitious nature and will make a name for yourself.

This fortune scares me, because I believe ambition can be a very dangerous thing.

And what I'm most afraid of is that I do, in fact, have an ambitious nature. And once, a long time ago, I let my ambition take control over my decision making process. The end result was that somebody got hurt.

Before I discuss my own ambitious nature, I want to explore the nature of ambition. People who are ambitious are generally successful in life. I'd be willing to bet every single CEO of every company in the world would describe themselves as "ambitious." Same goes for every politician. That's not to say ambition is reserved for captains of industry and leaders among men; accountants, teachers and lowly journalists can be amibitous, too.

Ambition often becomes a problem, though, when it outweighs a person's other instincts. For example, the instinct people have to prevent others from harm. Ambition doesn't care about other people; it only cares about making you as successful as possible by any means necessary.

That brings me back to my own ambition. In the one-half of one month I've been doing this project, I've laid my soul bare in ways I couldn't have imagined back on December 31. And here I go again. Keep in mind, this is a difficult thing for me to even admit, much less discuss on a blog seen by millions and millions of readers (okay, dozens and dozens is a little closer to reality).

It was almost a decade ago. I was working as a reporter for a company that owned several newspapers. A rumor was going around the office that the editor of one of those papers was doing a subpar job and was about to be fired.

I really wanted that job. The office was closer to my house, the pay was better, and I pictured it as a long-term career.

So I let my ambition take over, and I slowly, gently influenced my boss to fire the editor and give me the job.

At the time, I told myself I'd done nohing wrong. The editor was going to be let go anyway, right? My actions were only making the company better, right?

But the real, raw truth of the matter is, I was instrumental in somebody getting fired.

Since then, I've experienced what it's like to go through unemployment (in fact, I was fired from that very job just months later). I know what kind of hell it is to wake up in the morning and not have a job to go to. And to think that I inflicted that on someone else... well, it's probably the thing I'm most ashamed of in this world.

I can't do anything to change the past, but I think I changed as a person from the experience. If I am in a similar situation again, I know I'll do things differently.

That's little consolation for the person whose life I helped ruin. Hopefully, wherever that person is, they've grown, too, from facing that kind of adversity.

My ambitious nature may help me make a name for myself. And I realize ambition can be a good thing, if kept in check. But I know now that professional success is far from the most important thing in the world. If I have to knock people over to get what I want, then what I want is most certainly not worth it.

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