The Symptom of Ambition

The Sentence popped from my TV last night. It was in the middle of a soft-spoken kitchen dialogue between two characters on the AMC drama Mad Men. The words before and after that seemed like background; I was looking at my phone during the scene. When The Sentence was spoken it was like someone turned up the volume of the TV for just a second, then turned it back down. I perked up in my chair and hit rewind on the DVR.

“Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition.”

I have a habit of running into my kitchen after I hear words I like in my living room. There are post-it notes in the junk drawer in there. I need to scribble them down immediately so I don’t forget them. The post it is different from a text to myself, which I could have done on my phone;  this little piece of paper now occupies a space in my home. It’s present and available. When I have that note, I know I have to do something with it.

It’s sitting here, next to the laptop this morning, being useful to me.

When you are thinking about how drained you are at work, you have already subconsciously taken a huge step toward change, and you probably didn’t realize it.

On my way home from a weekend in Sacramento last night, I was listening to Marketplace Money on KQED-FM, the San Francisco NPR affiliate. The title of the show was “The Comeback Chronicles”.

If the notion of reinvention has entered your mind, I strongly suggest you hear this show, which I have linked you to.

The program featured stories of people who made the conscious decision that for them, achievement was a choice.

One of the folks profiled in the program was a former American soldier and warehouse worker, who now is a nurse. This is an incredible tale of a guy who, if you pigeon-holed him, should be destined to be a macho blue-collar laborer.

He was aware of his empathic nature, because he had a good long conversation with himself. He took a look at what jobs might suit him. He researched some trends. He went to school for a while to get a skills tune-up.

Only 7% of nurses in America are men. These jobs seem to have some strong demand.

Now our guy is happy, making more money that he did at the warehouse, and wondering how to keep it real amongst all the hot female nurses he works with. What an awesome (new) problem to have.

From warehouse guy to nurse: that’s a hell of a reinvention.

If you are crabby at work, or flailing at attempts to resume a less-then-fulfilling career some layoff took from you, it is probably a symptom of your ambition to do a little better for yourself.

You have most of the answers in your head already. You need someone or something to trigger it.

My friend and former co-worker does not likely know he is the reason for my own reinvention, but I will remember the words he uttered forever…

“You ought to be a teacher.”

It was right under my nose the whole time, but I wasn’t able to see it, to feel the passion until his words provoked it. Imagine my gratitude.

Channel that dissatisfaction into a little bit of ambition. The road ahead isn’t particularly well-marked, but your ambition will be your GPS.

The Reinvention of You: one hour a week for five weeks. Join my online class on and beat a new path to work you really enjoy. Click for details.

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