Abraham Lincoln was 23 years old when he declared to run for the Illinois state legislature. Abraham wrote, “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.” Lincoln continues, “All that I am or hope ever to be I get from my mother.”

Lincoln’s step-mother Sarah Bush Johnson explained, when Abraham came across a curious passage, he wrote it down in his scrapbook. Lincoln was a voracious reader. Books unlocked Lincoln’s imagination and fed his ambitions of living better, including developing every talent he had to its fullest. Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”

Lincoln’s resolution to succeed did not understand rest:

  • Captain in the Black Hawk War
  • Spent eight years in the Illinois legislature
  • Rode the circuit of courts for many years
  • Married Mary Todd and had four boys
  • Became 16th President of the United States
  • On January 1, 1863, issued the Emancipation Proclamation
  • Was reelected in 1864

Ambition Is The Superpower To Do Bold Things

You have come to understand that ambition is an evolutionary algorithm. Ambition is the superpower that allows you to play the status game, deal with life’s urgent matters, and exercise your talents. Regrettably, you have also come to understand that ambition breeds fear. Niccolò Machiavelli writes, “All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”

The author Chris Guillebeau writes that when you choose to avoid danger, you get an average life:

  • Accept what people tell you at face value
  • Don’t question authority
  • Think about starting your own business, but never do it
  • Think about writing a book, but never do it
  • Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work

What if you developed the strength to do bold things:

  • Do not accept what you are told, challenge popular beliefs
  • Question authority, make it your default operating system
  • Start your own business, it might lead to wealth
  • Write a book, others are waiting to read it
  • Optimize your life for independence, it gives you freedom from and freedom to

Questions That Define Your Ambitions

The decision of which course of action to take can be framed by four questions:

What are your curiosities?

The author Robert Greens writes, “In childhood, this force was clear to you. It directed you toward activities and subjects that fit your natural inclinations, that sparked a curiosity that was deep and primal.”

What are the intersections of your curiosities?

Robert Greene advises, “Once you have mastered your first field, you look for other subjects or skills that you can conquer, on your own time if necessary. You can now combine this added field of knowledge to the original one, perhaps creating a new field, or at least making novel connections between them. Ultimately you create a field that is uniquely your own.”

How do you share your knowledge with the World?

Angel List co-founder Naval Ravikant writes, “You build your brand in the meantime on Twitter, on YouTube, and by giving away free work. You make a name for yourself, and you take some risk in the process.”

Are there challenging problems that need your unique skill?

Robert Greene notes, “We must learn to develop ourselves. At the same time, it is a world teeming with critical problems and opportunities, best solved and seized by entrepreneurs-individuals or small groups who think independently, adapt quickly, and possess unique perspectives. Your individualized, creative skills will be at a premium.”

Choose Your Own Adventure

Ambition does create fear. It reveals how much you have to lose. It makes little difference which adventure you choose: avoid danger or develop the strength to do bold things. The loss is always present, so is it not better to be bold? Might the gains significantly out-way the losses?

When you were a child, you loved the choose your own adventure books. Your favorite book was “Journey Under the Sea.” You spent hours deliberating the next best choice. You did not care if the journey was a success or failure — it was the journey that excited you. After reading dozens of those books, your resolution to succeed became more important than any other one thing.

Originally posted here.