Try not to become a person of success but rather a person of value.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns.
Blind ambition. Success at all cost. Becoming a legend in one’s own time. Climbing the ladder to the top. Becoming the richest man by hook or crook. Getting the promotion or clinching the political seat by all means. Driving the most expensive car. Living in the biggest, most opulent home. Owning a helicopter and/or private jet. King of the mountain. Top of the heap. And then declaring: “I did it my way.” Really?
What is the world coming to? Look at the headlines from all over the world? Nations trying to outdo each other with their military and economic power! Here at home, bruising political battles that know no boundaries. Public servants gone crazy on raiding public coffers! A people trying to make money by all means like there is no tomorrow! Blind ambition is killing us, killing our nation, wiping out our moral values, and turning brother against brother. And all for what? To be top of the heap. To satisfy our egos.
But have we forgotten the reality? We have only this one life to live – 70 years and anything beyond is a bonus. Why then would a 30-year-old be driven by blind ambition to become a corrupt “tenderpreneur” when he has most of his life ahead to achieve his goals using value- based methods? Does he realise he could end up in jail?
Why would a 60-year-old who is nearer to his grave than he wants to accept spend his time and energy looking for wealth illegally only to die fighting to stay out of jail and keep his wealth? Is it to leave the wealth with his children? Does he not read the news and see the bruising battles being fought in courts by siblings who can’t agree on how to share their dead parents’ property, or don’t want to respect the will left behind?
Is it really worth denying yourself a place in heaven by committing every possible sin to accumulate more and more wealth to leave behind for your beloved children? You know what, wealth accumulated through dubious means is not blessed – it is cursed! This is the curse you will be leaving to your children, and generations to follow.
We make heroes out of people who are ambitious. We hold them up as models for our children and put their pictures on the covers of our magazines and headline news. We also give them the prime position on the table and sometimes even pay to meet them. And rightly so. This world would be in sad shape without people who dream of touching heavens. Ambition is that grit in the soul, which creates disenchantment with the ordinary and puts the dare into dreams. Absolutely nothing wrong, so far…
But left unchecked, ambition becomes insatiable addiction to power and prestige; a roaring hunger for achievement that devours people and relationships as a lion devours an animal, leaving behind only the skeletal remains. What would make you steal billions meant for the poor if not unchecked ambition? What would make you use the stolen money to live in grandeur when your brothers and sisters live miserably? This is not a doomsday warning; it is the truth – God won’t tolerate it. Blind ambition is a giant step away from God and one step closer to catastrophe – for you and your family.
Blind ambition is propelled by greed. And greed is the practice of measuring life by possessions. Greed equates a person’s worth with a person’s purse. You got a lot, you are a lot. You got little, you are little. The consequence of such thinking is predictable. If you are the sum of what you own, then by all means own it all. No price is too high. No payment is too much… Greed is not defined by what something costs; it is measured by what it cost you. If anything costs you your faith or your family, is the price not too high?
Most of us chase some form of success our entire lives. But like a dog chasing its tail, we spin in circles because we never stop long enough to define success. It’s just an abstract goal in our minds that we hope to achieve without ever actually knowing what it looks like. Take some time to write down your definition of success. Be specific. By taking time to put your definition on paper, you will solidify it in your mind and not be lured by blind ambition.
This time of the year is a very special time for me. There is the Easter season, my wedding anniversary, my birthday, my husband’s birthday, one of my son’s birthday… So it is often a time of reflection and thanksgiving. More than at any other time, this year I have asked myself a few hard questions. All these news on corruption, violence, anger, hatred, blind ambition… are they a reflection of me? After all am Kenyan!
If your life is marked by honesty and integrity you will definitely achieve success. When you have values that guide your actions, honesty matters more than success. You keep your word. You believe in serving others. You have principals you espouse. Winning is not the only thing that matters in your life. You have set goals in your life and you will work hard to achieve them, but you will not ‘do whatever it takes to reach the goal.’
Your life is about character. But personal character is becoming rather elusive these days. Like the biblical Esau, some people have traded the inheritance of their reputation for the pottage of shillings and cents. They have become thieves of public coffers, bartering the wealth of the eternal for the pittance of the temporary.
If you are a person of character, you will be more concerned with doing the right thing than doing things right. Right methods without right motives are shallow at best and evil at their worst. A person of character does not simply get a job done, he knows how to link motives with methods. He has a personal willingness to do the right thing. He makes tough choices – moral choices, spiritual choices, ethical choices and right choices.
To quote advertising guru James Leggett, “Reputation is made in a moment. Character is built in a lifetime.”
Published April 2016