The difference between ambition and greed is a difficult thing to define, and it’s been a question that has plagued me for the past few days. Everyone is making a bunch of new year’s resolutions and typically one of these promises has to do with making more money, whether it be landing a promotion at work or earning more ad revenue on your website.
Even speaking for myself, I only have one new year’s resolution this year and it’s to make more money through my freelance writing business. I’m not going to get into specific numbers, but I’m proud to report that my total overall earnings in 2007 were about 50% more than my earnings in the previous year. This is not to toot my own horn, but it is rather to illustrate what is possible when you put in the hours, set appropriate and specific goals, and then let ambition (and a plan) guide your ways.
Needless to say, the 50% increase easily surpassed my expectations, so I wasn’t entirely sure where to set my target for 2008. I have a number in mind, but with a little luck, I hope to crush it again. Maybe with my upcoming visit to CES, I’ll enjoy some terrific networking opportunities and land a few lucrative freelance writing projects along the way. Who knows? My name might even be recognized as an expert reviewer… that, or they’ll be disappointed to discover I’m not a professional figure skater.
In establishing this new monetary goal for 2008, the question arose within me whether I was being ambitious in setting this figure or was I simply greedy? On some level, it’s a simple matter of semantics, but I feel that there is something deeper here that can be explored and discussed. (I encourage all of you to chime in with your opinions using the comment form below.) You see, ambition is something that is valued, applauded, and rewarded in our society: in the States, people talk about the American Dream. However, the “greedy” label is frowned upon and the more left-winged among us have a particular animosity against so-called “greedy” people.
Money is nice. Life is just so much easier when you don’t have to worry about the green stuff, but that’s not why I am aiming for increased earnings in 2008. To me, it’s more about a sense of success or a sense of accomplishment. Does that mean that I’m ambitious? I’m not sure and I haven’t really come to terms with the ambition-greed dichotomy. Ultimately, I think that there is very little difference on an objective level and deciding whether a person is ambitious or greedy is just a matter of perspective. The fine line between ambition and greed may not exist at all, because they are one and the same.
This applies not only to money, but also to any sort of achievement. Think about athletes and how they initially strive to make the playoffs, for example, only to re-set their goals to win the Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, or World Series later on. Food for thought. Oh, and bonus brownie points to the first person to identify the image at the top of this post. No cheating! I don’t want to catch you using Google or Wikipedia to find the answer. 🙂