I think a critical point is that, you can start with ambition, and end up with a healthy regular schedule of work that satisfies not only external rewards we originally, and continue, to seek, but, to also find joy in work we find internal resistance to, from time to time. I’d argue that we all, at some point, find resistance to just about anything and everything we encounter. I think Stephen Pressfield’s, Do The Work (http://amzn.to/1hv841z), illustrates this nicely. I also feel we shouldn’t discount mindset, and from what perspective we move forward in going about our daily lives. I totally see your point, if you are stuck looking for external rewards over a long period of time, month after month, year after year, it is not sustainable. It’s the same reason why I don’t stay at my high paying corporate job only because of the benefits and great salary, that’s only a starting point. If it weren’t for the intrinsic rewards of not only developing software engineering skills, but also learning how larger organizations work, and improving my learning how to learn (e.g. SQ3R, mind mapping, visualization, etc), I don’t think I would have made it as far as I have in my 12 year professional coding career. I think a lot of the commenters haven’t taken a step back to see the bigger picture here — ambition can be very bad in the long term, if that is the sole fuel moving someone forward. He never said it served no purpose, only that, hopefully, over time, that initial ambition will be replaced with other, more sustainable experiences, such as: enjoyment, passion, resolve, genuine interest, learning, sense of meaning, personal development, reflection, etc.
Thank you for this post, if nothing else, I feel it has succeeded in compelling some to reflect more on their work and their approach in life, which is the point of this kind of article anyway, right?