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Your Ambition and the Comfort Zone of Others

Posted Feb 22 2012 6:33am

Ambition and friendly nay-sayers and their comfort zones are all closely related. So is ambition and less friendly nay-sayers and their fear of your success. Mark Twain put it well: Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.

You know how it goes. You have an idea. Or a project. Or a dream. And you tell someone about it. And their reaction is to tell you all the reasons why it will be so very hard. Or why it won't work. Or why you in particular are not the most suitable person to do it. They may - if they are your friends - speak to you in dulcet tones with well-meaning words. They have your best interests at heart. And if they are not your friends they may literally - with a smile on their face - shred your ambitions to pieces from the loftiness of their wisdom, place in life, position, etc. But as they speak, your heart sinks. You lose your impetus and your dream seems to evanesce into the fog of nothingness.

WHAT on earth just happened? There are two possibilities and they may both be combined in some fashion
  1. Your dream, plan, project was still too weak in your mind and vision, and hence, on speaking of it, it was easy to demolish. It had not yet taken on enough power inside of you and therefore you were not strong enough to maintain the vision in the face of opposition. These people might wish to maintain their comfort zone which may include your place in it, i.e., how "small" you remain, in order that they need not stretch, the way you are threatening to do. It's not that they don't wish you success, but if you achieve it, then how will they look? Or what will they have to do to keep up? Worst of all, they'll have to leave their comfort zone. And so, for them, it's easier if you don't grow and achieve. Or, conversely, others may fear your success more from the position of envy and greed or any other of those horrible emotions that so populate our world.
  2. The other possibility is that you give another's opinion of your dream, plan, or project more validity than your own. Sometimes that is good. If you wish to be a concert pianist and have worked hard for years and are now standing before a jury of respected pianists in their own right and they tell you that while you play magnificently, you will in all likelihood never make it to the place to which you aspire, then you may need to accept that opinion. But if you are at the beginning of your dream, before all the hard work has taken place and a parent or teacher or friend or neighbour shoots the dream down, or tells you how hard it will be and how much you will have to sacrifice, then listen to your heart, as the Quiche Maya say in the Popul Vuh, their sacred book: When you must choose between two different paths, ask yourself which of them comes from the heart. When you choose the path of the heart, you will never be wrong.
What is your dream? Are you allowing someone to take it away from you? Or to give up on it? Or are you brave enough to follow your heart? Follow your bliss, said Joseph Campbell, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.



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