I watched a docuseries recently called: The Food That Built America. It addressed many of the people who built an empire in the food industry. Some of them including the McDonald brothers: Richard and Maurice McDonald started the McDonald’s restaurant. At the end of the episode, a historian mentioned how the McDonald brothers did not desire to grow too much and instead settled on their goals with their handful of restaurants instead of the global franchise Kroc made McDonald’s. She stated that many people prefer to settle on their goals instead of becoming tycoons. They ended up retired in a modest home.
Should you settle on your goals and instead be more of an average person?
The Problem With Ambition
Ambition is normally a positive trait. However, the are many times that ambition can hurt you:
- You can miss out on social and relationship opportunities
- You can burnout.
Miss Out On Relationships
Being ambitious in anything can force you to miss out on valuable relationships. I have previously addressed the importance of relationships if you want the details of their importance. The gist is that relationships push us to be better.
I know for a fact that I have cut some relationships to chase going to graduate school and to get the job I have now. My work became my drive, and while most people relaxed and played on weekends I was working. That left very little time for others. I was lucky enough to be in a loving relationship.
It is spiritually taxing for people around you to feel like you would rather work than be around them. In turn, they may not want to be near you in return.
You Can Hurt Your Health And Burnout
Too much ambition is bad. It can lead to burnout and several other health issues. Burnout can be paralyzing, both mentally and physically. It has even been known to end careers and uproot lives.
It Is Ok To Be Average
First, being average is typical, therefore most people will be average. Chances are you may be average. Is that so bad?
Second, not everyone can be the best at everything. You need to embrace that there will always be competition to be the best at anything. Trying to be the best will only lead to burnout. But that does not mean you cannot be your best self.
Much like everything in life, you need to determine what will make you happy and what will not. That includes your goals. Do not think about being average as settling on your goals, but choosing them. You may not be happy as a billionaire much less with a larger than average bank account. You may not be happy as a person everyone looks up to. The only thing that can truly make anyone happy is to become what they want freely. That is not obtained with money nor success, but financial independence.
A Fishing Story
I once heard a story that explains how ambition will not get you what you want.
An MBA met the best fisher in a coastal town. The MBA tried to convince the fisher to start a business.
MBA: Do you have any idea of how much money you could make selling your fish?
Fisher: But I am happy just fishing for myself and my friends.
MBA: But think of how many people you would feed if you buy more boats and hire more people, you could get fish for many people and make enough money for retirement.
Fisher: What is retirement?
MBA: Oh you get to do whatever you want like I don’t know, you like fishing, after you retire from making your business you can fish to your desire.
Essentially the point of this story is to remind you that you do not need to try to become successful nor earn money to be who you want to be as long. The fisher is happy fishing for themselves and their friends. They are happy where they are and probably would not be happier doing what the MBA thinks would make them happy.
Do not think that being average means you need to settle on your goals. It is more like choosing your best path in life because most things will actually get in the way for you to be your best self. In my experience, more people become successful by finding their own success instead of chasing what others believe is success.