In my Ambition rant, I said that dissatisfaction is a prerequisite to any real or meaningful success. However, there are many people who are completely dissatisfied about lots of things, but are not spurred toward success by them. One obvious reason for this is that they're not "dissatisfied" enough to do anything about it. Although it will be argued that most people don't do much about their lot because it's not worth it to them to change; this is not the entire story.
Another good argument is that people are just afraid of change. There is a lot of truth to this, and I'm the first guy to admit that this is probably a major contributing factor to why people stay in less then ideal situations. In my Fear, Ego and Stimulation rant, we examined these three basic emotional motivations and how they can affect people's actions. In some ways, all three could contribute to an individual's lack of drive and motivation. And indeed, on a very basic a level, they do. However, there are other, more indirect forces that work here.
Although you are ultimately responsible for your own actions and what you do (and you know how I feel about personal responsibility), it cannot be denied that external forces can have a very strong impact on you and your decision-making processes (I know they impact me). So why don't many people try to achieve success, even when they're dissatisfied with their current place in the world? The answer is: Because virtually no one really wants them to. Think about it. If you're working at a company and have some sort of even remotely marketable skill and you wish to start your own business; why would your employer encourage this? Not only would they be losing an employee, but they may also be gaining competition. It has been widely acknowledged that employers often have procedures to stifle their employee's ambitions and, in a sense, break their wills. What you may not realize (or at least fully accept) is that much of society in general is geared towards those same ends.
Before I explain how this works, allow me to expose the weapon which is used for this purpose. In a word, this insidious device is called "complaining"; or more precisely, your ability to complain. Like most of us, I'm sure you've noticed people's endless capacity to complain. You probably have coworkers which complain about everything under the sun. Members of your family as well as your friends may be no different. Complaining has become a way of life, and why not? It's easy, it makes you feel a little bit better or that you're somehow important and that your opinion matters, and it seems perfect for a democratic society such as ours. The only problem with it is that it accomplishes nothing and keeps you enslaved. You can even see this reflected in the terminology used when discussing democracy. "Everyone has a voice", you never hear that everyone has power or everyone should take physical and dramatic action! But you do get a voice, so of course that must be enough, right?
The flaws of this situation can be illustrated in the idea of a peaceful protest. A peaceful protest only works if others truly care about your opinion and what you have to say. If they don't, then they'll just ignore you and keep doing what they're doing. And any attempt to use more forceful action to get what you want would be considered illegal; basically, all you're really allowed to do is complain. It's a real scam if you think about it. However, the place that this tactic really shines is not government, but capitalism. (Don't get the wrong idea, I'm all for capitalism and have no sympathy for people who are suckered in by this; I am merely pointing this out for the relative few out there who might benefit from it. I have no delusions about the need for these kinds of manipulative tactics when it comes to managing the majority of the population. Fortunately, Joe citizen wouldn't learn from what I'm saying if I parked outside his house in the middle of the night and screamed it into a bullhorn! That's why I'm not worried.)
Let's say that I'm a CEO of a national retail chain and you're a dissatisfied customer. Would I rather:
A. Make the changes necessary to satisfy you, at potentially great cost or trouble for me.
B. Exhibit complete apathy to your plight, thus prompting you to go spend your money at my competitor's establishments.
C. Set up a situation where you're encouraged to complain to one of my low ranking sales staff (whom I've probably never met and who will be working somewhere else within a year, due to a high turnover rate), vent your feelings so that you're satisfied that your voice has been heard. And with your malnourished ego satisfied, continue to patronize and spend your money in my retail chain, without me having to expend much money or effort on you at all.
I think the benefits of encouraging people to complain in a consumer market are fairly obvious. It's always amazing to me how people can complain so much about where they shop, and yet still frequent the same places. Of course, this behavior tends to have a snowball type effect and continues to feed on itself. People become complacent and this behavior spreads to all aspects of their lives. Many people, who are not satisfied in their current relationship, decide to continue it, giving all kinds of justifications for doing so; and then turn around and complain about it later. Complaining takes the place of action. Another thing to remember about striving for success is that many others, who are in the "complaining" mindset, will not appreciate your ambition. Although your friends and family are supposed to be supportive in theory; they are human and therefore naturally selfish creatures. From that standpoint, it might not be in their best interest to encourage your ambitions either. After all, people can be very petty, jealous creatures (when I said virtually no one really wants others to achieve success, I meant it; your success really isn't in anyone else's best interest, at least at first).
Even sadder specimens are those people who get tired of the depressing nature of all this complaining and decide it's better to just try to be satisfied with whatever is currently happening. They try to alter their opinions based on the situation rather then doing the reverse. This approach has become very common among the "new goodness" crowd. They fail to realize that it isn't the dissatisfaction that's the problem, but the lack of forceful and decisive action. Just how beaten down you have to be to decide that the problem is that you're not complacent enough with your miserable existence; so you need to force yourself to like it better?! Yes, truly sad.
If you only gain one piece of insight from this rant, it should be that complaining is not only very annoying, but also serves as the obstacle in the way of your progress and success. Do you really think that successful entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, writers, actors, politicians or anyone who has achieved anything even remotely great would spend their time whining about all of their problems? Of course not; they can't afford to. When a problem arises, they have to actually do something about it. That's what makes them great. And don't fool yourself into thinking that those types of people don't have obstacles which they must over come. It's their very ability to overcome those obstacles that makes them successful. Of course, not everyone has the same ability do this, but we can all strive for what we want.
As villains, we are, by our very natures, dissatisfied with certain aspects of this world. This dissatisfaction becomes a motivating force for success and change. It is much easier to sit around and bitch about whatever problems we have, but that makes us no better then the pathetic masses which we despise. In a society which encourages useless complaining over action, we must learn to be more decisive and proactive then that. Even just complicated scheming and daydreaming are better then moping around your lair, clenching your fist and cursing all of your problems without any obvious attempt to do something about them. Just exhibiting a willingness to plot a course of action is a good sign. And by taking extreme measures to get what you want and achieve the success you desire, you're committing a taboo. You're very ambition flies in the face of conventional, socially acceptable thinking. What a delightful thought.