I was talking with a fellow recently who was asking why this blog is called Serene Ambition™.
He thought that the two words didn’t seem to go together. He could get
‘serenity’ and also understand ‘ambition’, but together they made no
sense to him. In our normal way of relating to the world, you can have
serenity (meaning inner peace, calmness, maybe even joy) or you can be
ambitious (meaning committed to creating or accomplishing something in
the future)—but not both together.
some ways, we might say these two terms label the best of East and
West. Eastern philosophy and culture mostly focused on attaining the
goal of serenity—enlightment, bliss, spiritual union. Serenity
generally implies the virtues of acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude,
completion, wholeness and profound satisfaction. The West, on the other
hand, is a testament to making things happen, building the world in our
image, and in overcoming obstacles to achieve our goals. Ambition
generally suggests the virtues of perserverance, commitment, focus,
power, intentionality and responsibility. Arguably today, the East
lacks many of the material accomplishments of the West and the West is
thirsty for more spiritual depth and experience. Both have their value,
insofar as both are different expressions of our humaness and ways of
being in the world.
I see a third perspective exists which is always available to us,
but it is one which is generally not distinguished in our ‘either/or’
world. It is the distinction “serene ambition”. This perspective opens
the possibility of simultaneously being 100% satisfied with “the way it
is” (being in a state of profoud acceptance), while also being
committed to creating something else (being able to achieve
breakthroughs in the status quo). This is the central distinction in
coaching, for example. From a coach’s perspective, you are always fine
the way you are and never ‘need’ coaching, while at the same time you
can accomplish more than you ever imagined if you can commit to a
As we age, we need to recognize the perfection of the aging process
and the perfection of who and how we are day to day. We also need to
recognize that we are aging within a social context, a paradigm which
is always attempting to define not only who we are, but also what is
and is not possible. We need to accept the paradigm and not resist it.
At the same time, we have the opportunity to commit ourselves to BEING
true to our own vision and to the possiblity that who we are is not a
function of our circumstances, including our biological age. This we
need to create and articulate in every conversation, to express who we
are through relationships and to generate our own way of being in the
This is why I chose serene ambition as the place marker for
the possibility of transforming the culture of aging (and anything else
we might wish to transform). I hold a vision of 90 million individuals
of the ‘Baby Boom’ generation awakening to realize that:
- The world is what it is and that it doesn’t need help.
- We can be responsible for it and accept it as it is.
- Most importantly, we have the capacity to create the future as an
expression of our vision and our commitment to a world that works for