Byron's Babbles

Blind Ambition

“I hope our lives don’t get in the way of his ambition.” This was a line from Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson (Terence Knox) to 2nd Lieutenant (1st Lieutenant from the start of season 2) Myron Goldman (Stephen Caffrey) in the great series Tour of Duty. The show that ran from 1987-1990 (58 episodes) examined politics, faith, teamwork, racism, suicide, fragging, terrorism, civilian deaths, sexuality, drug abuse during the Vietnam War. The episode I was watching last night was about the blind ambition (obsessive ambition) of a superior officer giving orders to do things just to make numbers and himself look good. His huge personal ambition was guiding his actions. His ambition kept him from listening to to Zeke, who new what needed to be done. In the end, many men needlessly died. I have blogged about this recipe for disaster before in Passion at Ambition’s Command.

I was thinking about this episode when reading Simple Truth #36: “People Will Forget What You Said, People Will Forget What You Did, But People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel (Maya Angelou)” in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. Randy Conley told us that “…if people don’t believe you truly care about them, you won’t earn their trust” (p. 95). By not listening to those on the ground, or street level as I like to call it, the superior officer was not respecting or giving the consideration due those he served. Everything he did and anyone he helped was dependent on what he could get out of it, or what power could be derived. We need to be careful of letting ambition for success as defined by celebrity, power, and greed overpower our purpose for significance that includes caring for and gaining the trust of those we serve.

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