The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Ambition Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
what will the World say if kind, humane and benevolent Ben Franklin should leave his Friends and the World deprived of so pleasing and profitable a Work, a Work which would be useful and entertaining not only to a few, but to millions. (2.3)
Here, Abel James is encouraging Franklin to keep writing by appealing to his ambitious side. He doesn't just stop at flattering Franklin personally or complimenting how "pleasing" his book could be, he asserts that Franklin's book is going to have impact on "millions" of people. What's funny about this is that James is right. Franklin's book is "useful and entertaining," and, as a long-term bestseller, it has been read by tons of people. In what we can say is a kind of "speech-act" (very basically, that's a technical term for how saying something can call it into being), James foretells the future of the Autobiography.
The Objections, and Reluctances I met with in Soliciting the Subscriptions, made me soon feel the Impropriety of presenting oneself as the Proposer of any useful Project that might be suppos'd to raise one's Reputation in the smallest degree above that of one's Neighbors, when one has need of their Assistance to accomplish that Project. (2.35)
Franklin's cluing us in to one of the key components of successful people: don't let your ambition show on the outside. If you really are ambitious about "Projects," you'll let go of your ego for the greater good of whatever you're supporting. By putting your ego aside, this passage says, it's much easier to get other people to help you out and take on aspects of the project too. If you try to steal all the credit, though, to gratify your personal ambition, projects like these may not take off at all.
I from thence consider'd Industry as a Means of obtaining Wealth and Distinction, which encourag'd me; tho' I did not think that I should ever literally stand before Kings, which however has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to Dinner. (2.36)
Hard work reaps its own rewards. Franklin's moderately ambitious, but he doesn't hope for or plan on hanging out with monarchs. Because he's so industrious, though, his good works lead him to even higher honors than he had aspired to. He seems to only be ambitious about making a nice salary and a difference in the world, but ends up spending time with prominent heads of state.