The Audacity of Ambition
President Obama seems to be downsizing the American Dream. In an insufficiently noticed January 25th speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he said:
"Folks don't have unrealistic ambitions. They do believe that if they work hard they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American Dream."
"Unrealistic ambitions" -- is he serious? "Small measure of an American Dream" -- it sounds like he's conceding that the Lefts' version of "utopia" is really just settling for the crumbs that the elites drop on the floor. Is this the new normal? I'm sure glad Steve Jobs didn't act on this kind of advice -- I really do enjoy my iPhone. And I'm glad I didn't act on such tripe as well.
Ambition -- some have it and some don't. It matters not which country you live in as it's one of those traits of human nature that's universal and nearly impossible to suppress. That is unless you actually have the audacity to want to act on that ambition. Living in most other countries you'd be out of luck unless you were "connected", or had a large appetite for red-tape, but if you're lucky enough to have been born in the United States (the place so many have risked death to immigrate to) then the biggest obstacle to creating something with that ambition is usually yourself.
I made the choice to leave high school several months early after taking the equivalency test. Not something I'm proud of or would recommend for others but I found school extremely boring and at the time didn't see the point in wasting any more of mine or my teachers' time. Surely this was not the best recipe for success.
I entered the workforce with high ambition (due to my nature) but low expectations (due to what I had been taught by some of my teachers). I started working full time for a swimming pool company performing hard manual labor and after that summer was over I enrolled at the local community college and continued to work for the pool company part time.
I learned two extremely valuable life lessons as a result of this first job.
First: I learned that if you're willing to work hard, even with few skills, you can find gainful employment, and in my case, at more than twice the minimum wage. There wasn't some evil, greedy rich person hiding in the shadows with the sole intent of suppressing my "ambition" as some had led me to believe would happen. In fact, I noticed that my paychecks actually did "trickle-down" from those so-called "greedy rich" folks.
Second: I learned that I didn't want to work so physically hard my entire life and wanted to "ambitiously" pursue some other endeavor.
I did have a passion for construction and decided to pursue my "unrealistic ambitions" at a college (thanks Mom & Dad!) that specialized in all aspects of construction. I chose to work hard and even received a small scholarship at one point. During my training I found that I was most interested in electrical and decided that I would begin my career as an electrician.
By the time I reached twenty-four I was making pretty good money as an electrician, had married my high school sweetheart and together we had bought our first home. That sounds dangerously close to the "small measure of an American dream" as described by President Obama. I guess I was just supposed to be content and stop being so darn "unrealistically ambitious" at that point in time?
That wasn't enough for me though as I did possess the audacity of "ambition" and wanted nothing less than to have my own electrical company one day. To keep this short, by twenty-seven, I'd achieved this with partners and by thirty-one I was in business entirely on my own.
I was making a very comfortable living doing something I enjoyed. My success did annoy one of my friends and a few acquaintances though. My crime -- the audacity of making much more money they did and doing so without possessing a college degree as they did. They felt they were "entitled" to a higher standard of living than I had achieved. Of course they hadn't seen the hard work and many ups and downs (really, really down in this current economy) I had gone through to get where I was. In Obama's class-warfare world, if I choose to study, work hard and make a few good choices while others choose to party, make bad choices and just get-by, I should be punished for having a better outcome. If I knew ahead of time that I would be punished for being so "ambitious" why would I even bother to try in the first place?
Over the years I've had well over fifty employees pass through my organization. While working with (exploiting in Leftist lingo) these individuals, I've noticed a diverse range of "ambitions." Some worked hard and were content with just their paychecks. Others hardly worked at all and exploited me. Two really stand out as having had their own audacity of "ambition." Both started with virtually nothing (one had left communist Vietnam) and both ended up owning more than one home each while working for me. They eventually had the "ambition" to start their own companies and moved on. Yes, they're now feeling the pain of this government caused "recession" as well.
I left school with high "ambitions" and the expectation of road blocks. I've stumbled on many self-created road blocks (I take full responsibility for those) along the way, but I never thought that the largest ones I would encounter would be the ones that were created by the government.
In America, everyone (the "ambitious" included) is entitled to equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. Obama's Socialist/Marxist ideas leave all but the connected entitled to nothing but a dwindling supply of crumbs.
Scott blogs at www.politiseeds.com