Contentment and Ambition

I was taking part in a business mastermind meeting in Cleveland and one of the members in our group made the following statement, “It’s hard to be content and ambitious.” It caught my attention. He referenced it a second time and I wrote it down. When I later asked him about it he said it was a Jim Rohn quote. That didn’t surprise me at all. If you’re not familiar with Jim Rohn (not Jim Rome, the sports radio talk show host), he was an entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker known worldwide.

Once on a questionnaire, I was asked to write down a living person that I’d most like to meet. My response was Jim Rohn. I was fortunate to have had that opportunity in March 2006, just three years before he passed away. If you’ve never heard of or studied Jim Rohn, I encourage you to do so. (You can find his materials at www.JimRohn.com.)

Now let’s take a closer look at the statement, “It’s hard to be content and ambitious”. I find it very interesting and very true having seen it play out numerous times. At the Texas Baseball Ranch we see it with baseball/softball players more than you might think. Young players have aspirations of playing at a certain level, let’s say college ball. They work extremely hard. They are ambitious. They reach the goal and then become content with simply being “a college ball player”. People will comment that they seemed to have had so much potential.

Another example is the standout college freshman, who makes a name for himself and thinks he’s arrived. The next year he struggles and people call it the “Sophomore Slump”. In a lot of cases the athlete simply moved from ambitious to content. It’s then not surprising to see a rebound the next season because ambition once again kicks in.

Here’s a business example for you. A salesman has a goal to earn $10,000/month. He is very ambitious, works extremely hard. It’s getting close to the end of the month and he is still short of his goal. This guy scrambles like crazy until he closes a deal and earns his $10,000. The next month he reaches his goal halfway through the month. You think this is going to be an incredible month. The interesting thing that often happens (and studies have shown) is that although the salesman still has opportunity to earn more this month, he doesn’t close another sale and finishes the month at $10,000. Some say this is a mindset issue, his belief that he is worth only $10,000/month. I believe there is some truth to that thought but I also think it ties into being content. In his first month, he’s short of the goal, he’s ambitious. In the second month, he’s made the goal, he’s content.

All of us have had our ambitious moments and all of us have been content with something. One of the reason’s Jim’s statement intrigues me is that it says to me you’re not going to have both simultaneously. I look back on my life and I’d have to agree. Most of us want to enjoy life. We want to be content but if that’s our only focus we won’t push ourselves towards opportunities or through challenges and thus don’t achieve things we’re very capable of achieving. On the other hand, if ambition is our only focus we can fall prey to actions and beliefs that can be very detrimental, possible harmful.

I encourage you this week to notice when you let contentment replace your ambition, whether that’s settling for fewer swings (since you went 3-4 yesterday) or eating that chocolate cake (since you lost a pound last week). It happens to all of us. I just wanted to give you another way to look at it.

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