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Separating Ambition And Greed

Ambition and greed are often thought of as the same thing.

They are not easy concepts for highly sensitive people and can be a source of pain and unhappiness.

Greed Does Not Work For Highly Sensitive People

Greed does not work as a life strategy for most highly sensitive people. Part of the reason is physical because it requires a lot of energy directed toward personal gain. Another reason is our natures. We see the dehumanizing side of greed and the destruction of animals and natural resources that are required to sustain greed. A third reason is that it is our nature to reflect before we act.

Because we take in so much information, we have a high need to process what we take in and understand it before we leap to conclusions or take action. It helps us to be in integrity with ourselves. Our natures and natural processing style slows us down which means that we cannot do greed very well.

The Effect Of Structural Greed On Highly Sensitive People

Structural greed which capitalistic growth serves has a significant social effect. Whenever a culture structures itself to achieve an objective it then elevates the values that support it. When a culture is oriented toward making money, then greed becomes a positive value in the culture. Those who manifest the desired value advance in the culture and those who do not fall behind at least in economic terms.

That would not be so bad if social safety nets existed.  Unfortunately, in greed-based societies, they often do not, which means that you either participate in the money-focused structure or you struggle to survive. Many highly sensitive people struggle to survive.

Greed Energy Is Different From Ambition Energy

Greed and ambition are very different energies. Greedy energy is built on the fear of not having enough or being enough. Greed is a grabby energy and has a competitive social view. Greed is short-sighted; it seeks to maximize short term pleasure. Greed energy is hoarding since you can never be certain about survival in a competitive world. Greed is a lonely world view. Each person under its spell is essentially on his/her own.

Ambition is a very different energy. Ambition is for something or someone. Ambition requires some kind of improvement because all ambition seeks some kind of benefit. You cannot be short-sighted and be successfully ambitious because ambition requires a more long-term effort to be realized. As a result, ambition develops a different set of abilities.

The Benefits Of Embracing Ambition

Ambition is a way for us to release our natural positivity into the world. It is a way to take our place and to serve the evolution of the world. Where greed is primarily grabby, to be ambitious we need to take stock of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses to identify our unique potential contribution to the world.

Ambition requires that we develop ourselves and work at turning our raw potential into something that becomes useful to ourselves and others. It requires sustained effort and commitment in a particular direction over time. Ambition is an enhancing energy. It creates something new and, therefore, is a part of our evolution. Greed is depleting. Ambition adds.

Ambition For HSPs

Ambition can be embraced by highly sensitive people. Naturally, we have to choose to direct it in a way that works with our values. However, it is a wonderful way for us to work with all the insights we gain from being highly sensitive and direct them in a way that offers something new and beneficial to the world.

Ambition, directed toward health, the arts, and other humanistically-oriented disciplines, lets us work slowly to develop our ideas and lets us be who we are. As numerous researchers have found, it takes a long time to become good at anything. 10,000 hours, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, and discussed in this recent article in the New Yorker, is a requirement to realize significant ambitions.

The more complex our world the greater our need for people who are ambitious enough to tackle subjects that require ambitious commitments of time and energy. Being ambitious is a great way for highly sensitive people to put their natural depth to work and also a great way to turn our sensitivity to nuance into something positive. Ambition is not about greed; it is about serving the larger good. As a result, it is perfectly suited to the highly sensitive among us.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution and Sensitive Evolution Radio. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World as well as numerous courses for sensitives including The Emerging Sensitive Course using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. They can be found here. She is a long time meditator, reiki master, a student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.

2 Comments

  1. Claire on March 20, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Interesting article Maria. I have always had disdain for ambition as much as greed, as for me it feels selfish and self-absorbed. I like the idea that HSPs can harness their ambition to make the world a better place.



    • Maria on March 20, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Thanks, Claire.

      I know what you mean about disliking both ambition and greed. I have struggled with it. There has to be a place, however, for our excellence so when you uncouple ambition and greed you can make space for it.

      All the best,
      Maria