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Ambition - When Family Is Not Enough....

July 18th, 2010

Unlike many of my peers, when I was in my middle teenage years, I knew that I wanted to have a family; I wanted to be a father. I was going to find the right woman, get married, have babies and have a good job to support it all. I knew this because I loved children, loved being amongst families, mostly other people’s, having had no real ‘family’ experience or so I thought at the time.

AmbitionEventually I did get married and I did have children and I have worked nearly all the time during the years. Most of my jobs I suppose would be considered ‘good jobs’ by a high percentage of the population though some did, in my opinion, inadequately recompense me for my talent. There is a little thing that spoils this happy picture; I have, on occasion, put the well-being of the family at risk in my selfish search for the ‘good job’ bit.

What is the good job? I am not sure but I will know it when I find it. I have an idea that it is work that will be satisfying and rewarding, something that I will want to do for the rest of my life or at least for the greater part of it. The big question is, will it pay enough to allow me to support my family and if it didn’t, could I pass it up?

Many people would do and feel proud that they have made the sacrifice for their family. Many though would not even get to this stage, instead having found an acceptable, not necessarily comfortable, position are willing to sit it out to retirement. I suppose I should be thankful for people like these because the success I have experienced so far in my life is because of their lack of ambition.

And there you have it, the description of my ailment, ambition. I am talking about is not the limited ‘I want the promotion at work’ ambition but something bigger. I am not the only one and I would hesitate a guess that some 10 to 15% of the grown population have this affliction. I accept that it will vary from society to society, for instance, the US American attitude of entrepreneurship may result in a higher proportion.

Not wanting to start a gender war here, my observations lead me to believe that a woman, who has not started her high power career by the time she starts a family, is likely to become more accepting of her circumstances, maybe even complacent, and will endeavour to make it comfortable for her family. The biological clock phenomenon is not pseudo-science, it is fact. Nature has provided a natural ambition for the female, the production of children and their nurturing. Additionally, the presence of a permanent partner is not a requirement but a ‘nice to have’ and most societies have obliged. I do not suggest that is the only ambition and obviously there are exceptions to the rule.

Rarely are things that simple. We have a fair number of men, some dragging along nervous partners and children, blundering about looking for that ‘something better’. Here is a question, if I am unhappy, unsatisfied, discontent, how likely is it that I will be able to provide a stable and loving environment for my family in the long term? Unfortunately, sometimes this uncertainty upsets the mother’s endeavour to provide stability and families split up.

Many content people do not do what they do for the money; they do it for the passion, the love, the satisfaction. That is what makes this special bunch better people, better partners, better parents. I have a burning ambition to be one of them.

May you find the balance.

[First published on my Talking2Myself blog on specified date]