State of Mind: Why Wanting More Always Leads to Failure

As a businessman, I judge my self-worth on the success or failure of my business ventures. I find my value in how many clients, readers, and fans that I have. I spend countless hours reading, and learning how to gain more attention for my writing and for my business. I have told myself that success is all that matters and I have defined success as I see it in the world. Money, things, notoriety; these are the things that I find myself seeking and searching for. If only I had more money, more readers, more loyal fans, I would be happy. So I fight and work hard to accomplish these goals. To my credit (I guess), the harder I work, the closer I come to meeting my goals. Yet, more is never enough.

Ambition drives me forward, but it also leads me to exhaustion, desperation and even despair.  I constantly hunger for more, but I have never really stopped to consider what more means. More what? More money, more fans, more clients, and how do you measure and quantify more? At what point do you wake up and say, “Yes, this is what more looks like, I have achieved it!”?

A quick survey of the world around us confirms that we are all in pursuit of more. This ever-elusive goal taunts us. The faster we run towards more, the further is seems to get away from us. It is like a dog chasing its tail, round and around, always just inches away, but never caught, until a state of fatigue (and dizziness) persuades the dog to stop and try again later.

As a Christian, I should have a better handle on what really matters in life, but there are not any webinars on how to be content in your business, or how to focus your energy on more relevant things (there’s that word again). Who is to say that one thing is more relevant than something else? I want to be more faithful, more servant-oriented, more Christ-centered. Again, you cannot measure more, thus no one can ever truly attain it. It is the trap that we, as people, but especially business professionals, will always fall into.

The key, I have learned, is to stop wanting more. No, I do not mean that you should leave ambition behind but instead we must train our ambition to seek out measurable results. I bring my faith up because I believe that more is a temptation that distracts us from becoming who we are meant to be and from accomplishing what we are meant to accomplish. It keeps us tied in knots so that we become useless to the world. For me, the first step in overcoming this temptation is to understand that Christ is the only one who can actually give us more. Christ tells us that He is the bread of life and anyone who comes to Christ shall never hunger, and he who believes in Him shall never thirst (John 6:35).

You see when we long for more, what we are trying to do is fill the void left in us by the absence of Christ in our lives. The pursuit of more drives us away from what we really need. It builds within us resentment for life, even for God, whom we often blame for not providing us with the undefined more we are reaching for.

It is not God’s fault that we do not have more. He has already offered us everything by sacrificing himself in order that we may be set free from the bonds of this world. The bonds created by our pursuit of the unattainable. As humans, we do not have the capacity to achieve more than what God is already freely handing out. All we must do is accept that He is the real answer to what we are longing for.

Of course, that still leaves the whole ambition thing up in the air. But not really, because once we realize that we already have more than we ever could have accomplished on our own, it free us up to pursue actual, attainable goals. We have created a world where business is seen as greedy, people are seen as untrustworthy, and the hopeless are left hoping for the scraps left in our wake as we speed towards more.

It is time that we turn our ambitions towards things that we can control, things that we can change. Many have given up hope that things will ever change, but that is because we have been trying to fix the wrong things. Everyone believes that getting more money will fix our schools, fix our economy, and our lives, but time and time again the results of chasing after more has ended in failure and disappointment.

What we need to do is step back and accept that the big things in life are out of our control, but we can make a huge difference one little thing at a time. We can love our families with abandon, we can treat our employees and our customers as if we value them as people not just tools, we can care for the hungry, give to the needy, stand up for the unprotected, and guard our freedom with our life. I have learned that simply smiling at the grocery store checkout clerk, saying hello to a neighbor, or helping a friend in need goes a lot further than chasing have more of anything.

There is no value in more, but we can find priceless value in the people around us. Let us use our ambition to drive a new movement forward, a movement that challenges us to think outside the norms, and encourages us to give the one thing that we hoard the most, ourselves. Life cannot be live in pursuit of the unattainable so we should stop measuring our success by it. Let us began to measure success not by what we gain, but by what we are willing to give.