#524 Ambition + Routine

“Routine, in an Intelligent Person, Is a Sign of Ambition.”

Daily Rituals is a fascinating book that features brief vignettes of the idiosyncratic habits of 161 of history’s most iconoclastic writers, scientists and other great thinkers—ranging from W.H. Auden, Charles Darwin and Carl Jung to Stephen King, Benjamin Franklin and Mozart.

If you’ve ever wondered how some of some of the greatest creators showed up on a daily basis, I think you’ll love it. The extraordinary variety of approaches is inspiring and, more than anything, feels like a permission slip to unapologetically own our unique styles.

But I’ve gotta say that the first line(s) of the book might have been my favorite.

Here’s how Mason Currey kicks off the party:

“‘Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,’ Auden wrote in 1958.’ If that’s true, then Auden himself was one of the most ambitious men of his generation. The poet was obsessively punctual and lived by an exacting timetable throughout his life.”

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

When I read that line, I immediately said to myself, “Hah. That’s AWESOME.”

Then I thought of Robin Sharma’s reflection that greatness is consistency on the fundamentals. As we’ve discussed, the specifics of your routine, he says, will differ depending on whether the domain you want to master is business or sports or philosophy, but your disciplined CONSISTENCY on your chosen fundamentals will be astonishing—in proportion to your ambition, to use Auden’s words.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

Let’s assume, for the moment, that the statement is true and that Sharma is on to something when he talks about the importance of consistency on the fundamentals of your craft (and life).

Then let’s get right to the point of Today’s +1: What do YOUR routines (or lack thereof) say about YOUR ambition? 🤓

Any room for Optimizing?

And… Before we go, let’s step back and embrace the idea of “ambition” as a virtue. I know I’ve had ambivalence about the word and the concept in my life and my hunch is you might have as well.

From a dictionary definition perspective, ambition simply means: “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”

I think we can embrace ambition as a virtue when it’s properly integrated into our Big 3 and channeled in service to something bigger than ourselves


What’s your greatest ambition?

How will you use your greatest gifts in greatest service to your family, community and world?

Let’s get that desire up to 212 degrees and then Optimize our routines to match, shall we?!

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