"We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don't want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realize their full potential."
Barack Obama, Daily Southtown, Feb. 19, 2005
I love this quote on ambition from Barack Obama, as it reminds us that we have to work really hard to achieve our ambitions. All of the trappings of success may come to us once we meet our ambitions (assuming that our ambitions are for material gain), but they will not be handed to us for free.
The use of "poverty of ambition" is also clever, because it associates in our minds poverty as a consequence of the lack of ambitions. The implication seems to be that the poverty (or lack) of ambition will lead to real poverty. It appears to be a favoured play on words by President Obama, as he used it in a subsequent speach:
"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled."
Barack Obama, speech, Jul. 12, 2006
Once again, an excellent quote on ambition as it reminds us that not all ambitions should be material in nature, and indeed these kind of ambitions can leave you feeling unfulfilled.
Date Added: 2012-04-10