The Lady Macbeth Guide to Ambition

By Stefan Stern

Modern philosophy meets Shakespeare in this intriguing "how-not-to" guide to ambition.

Philosophy
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Many of us wrestle with those daunting “life choice” questions from time to time: what should I be aiming for? Am I being ambitious enough? Or has an excess of ambition led me astray?

The Lady Macbeth Guide to Ambition is here to help: Stefan Stern has written a collection of essays which consider different aspects of ambition and its place in our lives. They ask: what does success mean and what might it look like for you? When is enough enough? And is Lady Macbeth right to suggest that only those with the “illness” of ambition achieve the highest goals?

This is not a “how to” book. If anything, it is closer to being a “how not to” book.

Each section is prefaced with a quotation from Macbeth with Stefan drawing parallels between the major themes in the play and how they can be applied to modern life. Expect to discover why ambition could be considered an illness, how ambition and success work together, generational changes and shifts in attitude over the years, and how gender roles have an impact on our goals. 

Incisive, contemporary and accessible, this book is for anyone who is looking for a change of direction or emphasis on how to move forward. It will also provide consolation, amusement and plenty of insightful meditations on the complex nature of ambition.

Image credits: Design by Mecob. Images: © Shutterstock.com. Page image © Rex Features from Macbeth (2015).

Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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  • Stefan Stern avatar

    Stefan Stern

    Stefan Stern is a journalist and author. He writes for the Financial Times, The Guardian, Prospect and other titles.


    His first two books were Myths of Management – what people get wrong about being the boss (Kogan Page, 2017, with Cary Cooper), and How to be a better leader (Bluebird [Pan Macmillan] 2019). He is a Visiting Professor at Bayes Business School, City, University of London, and a Fellow of the RSA.

  • Success can be both relative and absolute. Your lifetime’s ambition might remain forever out of reach. You may never be awarded an Oscar, break the land speed record, or win the lottery. But you might do so much better and achieve more than sceptical teachers or unsupportive parents ever imagined. You may, simply by beating friends and contemporaries to a job, succeed where others, well, fail.

    There can be no success without ambition. In the past we have measured success in material terms. These still matter. But we now have to find other ways to calibrate and celebrate success – “aspire not to have more but to be more”, as Archbishop Oscar Romero said. Success can take many forms, and meaningful ambition recognises this.

    Who is the greater success: the millionaire entrepreneur who launched and then sold a business, or the family that has given everything away to live off the grid? Can anyone be said to have succeeded if the world is dying? Intelligent ambition in the 21st century has to be sustainable in every sense. This is the sort of success we need, and that is the challenge for our times.

    Read more...
  • Stefan Stern has written 1 private update. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    3rd May 2022 ...And we'll not fail!

    Good news - the book is now 66% funded. Tell your friends! Tell strangers. Tell people you don't really like but you know are good for a few quid. The end is in sight. The sooner we cross the finishing line the sooner you get a book and the sooner your inbox will be free from these cheery reminder messages. So really it's win-win-win.

    Thank you for your continued support and interest.

    Stefan…

    17th March 2022 What's to be done?

    Thank you - 39% of the target raised. Please share the link with bookish friends and colleagues -

    https://unbound.com/books/the-lady-macbeth-guide-to-ambition

    The more people support it, the sooner you get your copy!

    All best,

    Stefan

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