All the Gold Stars: An Online Workshop on Rethinking Ambition with Rainesford Stauffer

From the time a gold star sticker shimmers at the top of our homework to endless overwork, ambition is woven into how we think of achievement.

Rainesford Stauffer’s book, All the Gold Stars, examines how cultural, personal, and societal expectations surrounding ambition impact everything from school and work to self-worth. The reporting in this book focuses not just on the pressure of ambition–overwork, perfectionism, and never feeling like enough–but also how people are rethinking it. What if we could pour the care, intention, and drive of ambition into different parts of our lives, like friendships, collectivity, community, and tending to what matters to us most deeply?

Using writing as a vehicle for discussing ambition, this online workshop will cover two key themes:

First, we’ll look at where ambition came from–historically, culturally, and societally, including who is encouraged to strive, and for what. Reflecting on the roots of ambition will help us examine our own relationship to it. We’ll write down a moment that felt defining in terms of ambition: Were we encouraged to have it? How? How did ambition shape you?

Second, we’ll work through how ambition can show up in our lives–where does it show up for you? How do you foster ambition, and for what? By the end of our time together, we’ll have discussed different ways of being ambitious for our communities, personal goals, and how to balance ambition for work or personal projects with ambition for other parts of our lives and selves.

The cost of this workshop is $45, which includes a copy of All the Gold Stars. You can pick up your copy at Bookends & Beginnings in Evanston, IL, or have it mailed to you.