The Thought for the Day – Master Li

The wise man has no ambitions. Therefore, he has no failures. He who never fails always succeeds. And he who always succeeds is all-powerful. – Master Li, Creation by Gore Vidal


Regular readers of The Thought for the Day know that Creation – a historical novel set in Persia in the 6th-5th centuries BC where figures from the past interact with fictional characters over several decades and many miles – has contributed more than its share of quotes for this feature. Today’s Thought was uttered by a character named Master Li, a fictional character we’ve long suspected was based on Lao Tzu.

Ambition is an interesting animal. On the one hand, it’s how things are accomplished in this world because, as we’ve said here before, it is rare someone accomplishes something they did not set out to do. On the other hand, we’ve always thought that someone who is in completely in the throes of ambition is limiting themselves merely to what they want to accomplish, instead of what they could accomplish.

Ambition, frankly, has never served us well. We’ve tried this and that over the years – with some attainments and plenty more failures – often ending up with something different than what we set out for. Something different, but completely satisfying. An interesting lesson and one that takes a while to fully appreciate. Now, specific goals seldom interest us and we are content to do what we choose to do well.

He who never fails always succeeds. And he who always succeeds is all-powerful…

Today’s selection is rather thought provoking. Circumstantially, it’s very true. By abandoning ambition, you are living from the inside out, eliminate outside judgments and influences. 

The wise man has no ambitions. Therefore, he has no failures.

This does not mean you do not try anything, however. It merely means success is no longer defined by outside influences because by abandoning ambition you eliminate outside judgments, fame and fortune being replaced by your own plan for your life, the execution of that plan and the maximizing of your talents.

When you do this, you have succeeded. Every time, guaranteed. You may not become all-powerful, but you will become your very best, life’s great prize

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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