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Does Ambition Breed Politics?

July 8, 2013

God is definitely watching out for me.  I’d been frustrated about being passed over for promotion to manager in favor of someone wholly unqualified to lead a creative team, but now I see God’s protection.

I am not terribly ambitious.  It probably holds me back from the things I do care about and definitely holds me back from things I don’t.  My new manager is aggressively ambitious.  He is obvious about putting his agenda before all others.  His boss is too.  I’m watching the politics generated by ambition’s friction burn another manager to cinders.  This manager is not ambitious, but he fit the political needs of having someone around to do the dirty work.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t manage politics well and is caught in the cross-fire, making people who formerly liked him actively dislike him.  He’s getting it from all sides.

Perhaps because of my lack of ambition (I’m driven by what’s best for the team, not for me), I don’t do politics.  Don’t like ’em in government and detest them at work.  Where our distaff manager is getting ground down, I’d be stubborn and end up fired.  Oddly, I’ve never before put Ambition and Politics in a cause and effect mode, but it makes sense.

Let me confess something: I was informed by a friend that another fellow considered me a “C talent.”  I’d been offended, but now I think I’m honored.  His comment was that I don’t play the corporate game to win.  Now I’m realizing that what he considers a “win” and what I consider a “win” are two different things.

Probably there’s a good ambition and a bad ambition.  I need to find Ben’s copy of Rescuing Ambition to see Dave Harvey’s take on it.  Speaking of Ben, I’m proud of him.  Though I don’t know what it is, exactly, I think he has the good ambition evidenced in his commitment to things he’s passionate about.

What are your thoughts on ambition?  Do they breed corporate politics?  Do they have to?

(I’m wondering if ambition in my writing would make me compromise what I write, aiming for an audience to exploit rather than delight?)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2013 8:51 am

    I’m with you–I’ll be ambitious up to a point, but after that the law of diminishing returns kicks in, as far as I’m concerned. I recall a former boss telling me once that he’d be out smoking with one of the company VPs, and the VP told him I should be working longer hours, putting in my dues, working more to climb the ladder. And I just never had any interest in that. Above my current position lies only misery and politics, as far as I can tell. I just don’t think the trade-offs are worth it: more money but more misery, more clout at work but less time at home. No way. 🙂

    Also, I just read this article this morning and it somehow seems appropriate here, especially given your occupation: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/08/my_dirty_secret_writing_life/

  2. July 9, 2013 5:30 pm

    My feelings exactly. It’s taken me awhile to get to that realization, but more money/more misery isn’t worth the impact on family and my real passion.

    Good read, though the ghostwriting I’ve done has helped me hone my voice rather than lose it. It is odd, though, when the “author” promotes their own ability to write when I did it for them, but most of my authors have been really wonderful people.

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