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Maybe you were once that young dreamer or that practical parent who worries for their ambitious children’s disillusionment with the world. People are often on one side of the idealistic/pragmatic spectrum. However, thinking about ambition in this black and white way is self-limiting, regardless of what side you find yourself on.
We must pave a middle way between the two, in which you can have your cake and eat it too, else you will fall victim to the vulnerabilities of your respective side of the coin.
Reality is much more nuanced than anybody would like to consider. Although it is easier to simply declare yourself a practical person, or as a person with big dreamy, powerful goals, this is just not the case.
In reality someone who says, “I am a pragmatist,” in that they have both practical goals and a practical approach to achieving them should view themselves more like a “Pragmatic-pragmatist” and someone who says, “I am an idealist,” with big dreams and an equally dreamy expectations of the necessary work would be an idealistic-idealist.
It is my view that there are two dimensions to a person’s philosophy of ambition; the ambitions themselves, and the approach to achieving them. Both differ very much and you should not carelessly lump them together. We should treat both to their own individual view to avoid self-sabotage in regards to our powerful goals.
If we split the full picture into two, as pragmatic-pragmatist, idealistic-idealist, pragmatic-idealist, etc, a person should identify as an idealistic-pragmatist for the best results on their personal development. A position in one sets ambitious, lofty goals while simultaneously executing those dreams like an unscrupulous, cold-blooded, pragmatic machine.
A pragmatic-pragmatist might do all the things necessary to achieve success, but their practical goals will reward them with results beneath their potential. So too will an idealistic-idealist squander their ambition by underestimating the effort necessary to achieve their dreams and powerful goals.
We all can recognize the people in our lives that fit into either of these extremes.
We can observe how the “practical” people can be very hard workers who set goals within their means, only to find themselves in a career that might be good, but nonetheless unfulfilling.
So too do we discover how those with big dreams will often romanticize how much effort they need to bring to the table, or how talented they must become in order to achieve their enormous ambitions, only to later not live up to their inflated expectations and fail to achieve their powerful goals.
How can we avoid these depressing realities?
The solution is simple.
You must be the best of both worlds.
Instead of working 60 hours a week to become regional manager, you should be working overtime to learn the company and take it over, or even to start your own venture.
Instead of dreaming of becoming a famous rock star and sitting around, waiting to be discovered, dedicate yourself to developing your musicianship, play gigs at small bars and venues every chance you get, and practice for hours every day.
Obviously, your individual situation might be a little different, but you get my point. You must make yourself into an idealistic-pragmatist to set and achieve powerful goals.
Go for the gold, but actually go for it. Do not waste your ambition on “realistic” goals, the world will provide you a realistic life without having to plan for it. You must dream your biggest dreams possible, but you must also take an uncompromisingly pragmatic approach to make those dreams a reality. Figure out what you need to do to accomplish your powerful goals without underestimating the work that will be necessary.
Think of somebody like Elon Musk. He is a man whose ambitions include colonizing Mars with the help of his company, SpaceX, in addition to having created an electric car company, Tesla, from scratch. He is literally shooting for the stars, yet his weekly work schedule is anything but dreamy. Last year, he has said he was working nearly 120 hours a week to meet production goals for the Tesla Model 3, before going back to his typical 80-90 hours a week. While he may fall short of his targets every now and again, he is still the CEO of three companies and a man with billions of dollars. He is capable of both dreaming big and getting results. He exemplifies more than anyone the “idealistic-pragmatist,” the attitude most necessary for the realization of powerful goals.
You should reflect on your own philosophy of ambition. How big do you dream, and how hard are you willing to work for the things you want? Is your ambition being wasted on dreams that are too small time? Or are you wasting your life by not putting in enough hours to accomplish the powerful goals you have?
To both questions I say, become an idealistic-pragmatist and recognize the tremendous results on your life. In other words, dream big. Dream your biggest, work your hardest, and you will set and achieve powerful goals.
Anthony Pellegrino is currently a student at Fort Hays State seeking his B.A. in Philosophy. He was born and raised in rural Massachusetts in a town with more cows than people. This quiet upbringing gave him ample time to read and think, which gave rise to his ambitions to become a writer and philosopher. His main focus is on topics in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, and everyday life. Some of his writings can be found at https://medium.com/@
%%focuskw%% | Utilize Your Ambition to Achieve Powerful Goals