Sunday, December 8, 2013

At what cost?

A rose blooming on its own.

I read a couple of articles this week that referred to the age-old question:
At what cost do people pursue their goals?
For the authentically ambitious person, who craves achievement above all else, unswerving dedication to the pursuit of personal dreams and goals can limit the amount of time that is spent on anything else. Personal relationships can suffer momentary lapses in undivided attention.

An article from The Atlantic explains how, in the end, people ultimately determine that "relationships are more important than ambition," and how "ambition drives people forward; relationships and community, by imposing limits, hold people back."

Well, that certainly depends.

Benjamin Franklin, said: “ What is best for people is what they do for themselves. 

That he coined that phrase should come as no surprise, given how he handled his personal life. 

Franklin was often away from home, from one adventure to the next, leaving those close to him to fend for themselves. He was a doting husband in spirit, but was mostly absent from his wife's life. He was also intermittently estranged from his own son. Regardless, the man did contribute a lot to his country, and to the world. Walter Isaacson's account of Franklin's personal foibles paint an interesting picture; one that makes you realize, that personal ambition is not always a sinful passion, or at least not when the person in question contributes and adds value in some way.  

Most world leaders, artists, inventors, innovators and geniuses fit this mold.

And most had satisfying personal lives - in terms of the ardor, dedication and devotion that came in spurts of intensity to those around them.

The cost behind the pursuit of personal goals, must then, be regarded as a function of the results they render.

So, to complement the question, "at what cost do people pursue their goals", I would add, "at what price would people value other's contributions?"