Rob Bell: What To Do With Your Ambition

Rob Bell delivered an incredible podcast recently, talking about ambition and how to control it. It’s a must-listen for any creative wanting to make sure they’re setting themselves up well for a healthy and balanced future.

Bell’s approach is relatable; he says there are pitfalls on both ends of the spectrum. He explains that some religious institutions love to condemn ambition, making people feel guilty for wanting to get more out of their lives. Whereas on the other extreme, people can become dominated and consumed by ‘selfish ambition’, which is equally as dangerous.

He then launches into the 7 ways you can tell ambition is taking over your life. To paraphrase, Bell says you can tell ambition is consuming you:

  • When you’re exhausted, and have a deep sense that your life is unsustainable. When you don’t know why you keep saying yes to everything, and you don’t really want to be doing the things you’ve signed up for.
  • When you find yourself jealous of what you perceive to be the success of others.
  • When you’re not inspired by others, but you’re threatened by them.
  • When you’re using the word “it” a lot, and you keep talking about “making it”, “arriving at it”, “getting it”... but you don’t actually know what that nebulous “it” is.
  • When you lose those little moments of gratitude, and stop saying, “Wow, I get to do this?!”
  • When you start feeling entitled, like you’re owed something.
  • When you can’t laugh at your messes and mistakes.

In his trademark style, Bell candidly explores the times he’s been burnt out from playing with the ‘fire of ambition’. He also discusses the virtue of magnanimity, and talks about giving the most you can to those around you, while keeping ambition in its proper place.

Listen to the full thing here.