Ambition– Core Driver of Achievement, Power, Fame, Wealth: Ambition Matters– Its the Essential that Gives Purpose to Life…

Ambition is the core driver of success, extraordinary achievements, power, fame, wealth… The power of ambition turns eager desires into reality… According to Steven Pressfield; ambition is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our humanity… Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs and ignore ourselves and the reason for our existence. Wikipedia says ambition is the desire for personal achievement…

Webster says ambition is an ardent desire for rank, fame, and power to achieve a particular end… However, some experts say that the word ‘ambition’– when used and defined alone without some other word description– is impossible to define, it requires something more… People have always been ambivalent about ambition: We see it as dangerous and yet essential. We disapprove of those who abuse it, but we dismiss those who lack it. We see too little of it as a failing, too much of it as a sin.

Simply put, ambition is what makes humans go. Almost everyone dreams of doing something special, whether it’s building an Internet company, writing a novel, excelling at your job, raising a family… Whatever the size of your goal, it’s driven by ambition. One of the more inspiring lines in the movies are ‘my ambition far exceeds my talents’… ambition is the most important tool to achieving success, overriding both talent and resources…

An ambitious attitude can lead anyone to triumph, success and satisfaction, regardless of what is put in front of them. To have the will, the dream and the courage to be on top of the world will get you a lot farther in life than any skill you can possibly possess. Having talent means nothing if you have no ambition behind it to make it work… Ambition separates the man on the subway from the man flying in a private jet. Ambition is what gives us a purpose in life…

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In the article The Power of Collective Ambition by Douglas A. Ready and Emily Truelove write: In the past few years, some companies have not just weathered the economic storm: They’ve emerged stronger than ever by defying conventional logic… Instead of pursuing a single ambition, such as profits, management defined a collective ambition. As a result, these organizations deepened their engagement with employees and other stakeholders and became sustaining profitable.

That model is expressed in what we call– collective ambition; a summary of how leaders and employees think about why they exist, what they hope to accomplish, how they will collaborate to achieve their ambition, and how their brand promise aligns with their core values. These companies don’t fall into the trap of pursuing a single ambition, such as profits; instead, the employees collaborate to shape a collective ambition that supersedes individual goals and takes into account key elements required to achieve and sustain excellence…

For decades, organizational scholars have studied what makes for a company that is both sustaining profitable as well as engaged with employees–other stakeholders. However, many organizations tackle their ambitious engagement in one-off fashion or define it too narrowly; rather than creating a compelling story of the company’s ambitions and a collaborative process for building the capabilities to achieve it…

In the article Residue of Leadership: Why Ambition Matters by James Champy writes: One of the important lessons for leaders in the past decade is that nothing great ever happens without a great ambition. To gauge the likelihood of success for any company’s change initiative, stakeholders must ask: What’s the nature of the leader’s ambition? What is the leader’s vision of the organization’s future? Does the leadership team have an appetite for change? Most notably, every great leader begins with a great vision-dream.

Ambitious visions not only require a capacity for meaningful change, but also providing the energy and inspiration to engage others. The task of articulating a dream and rallying others around it is the essence of leadership. The study of leaders in every field tells us that leadership is the residue of ambition. To be sure, ambition needs a better reputation: In recent years, to be ambitious has come to be seen as a character flaw. Yet for leaders to make a difference requires more, not less, ambition.

Great leaders have ambitions that are marked with greater sense of purpose, an urge to create something beyond oneself. Today ambitions and achievements can rise and fall with great speed… and organizations tend to become cautious by nature; large corporations, in particular, tend to develop immunity for innovation, entrepreneurship, ambition… These companies train people in the analysis of risk but focus on avoiding the unknown rather than taking prudent chances.

They tend to look backward rather than forward. If those who assess risk have no ambition, they will see only hazards and never opportunities. Ambition must be a core value of the enterprise and encouraged by leadership. If an enterprise is to be more than a collection of ambitious individuals, its leaders must be able to articulate a shared, compelling purpose, and must engage others in its pursuit…

But further, high achievers must also fight certain impulses that run as deep as ambition itself– hubris and greed… Great achievers must learn to temper their ambition with self-reflection… they must remain true to the highest values, and see the world and themselves clearly… and they must effectively manage the resources that can limit the pursuit of a dream– time, talent, momentum…

Ambitious people show remarkable persistence, preparation, clarity of purpose, optimism. One of the great things an organization can do is to help people dream.

In the article Importance of Ambition by Jennifer Allyn writes: PricewaterhouseCooper  (PwC) recruits 50% women at the associate level and yet women make up just 17% of partners in the firm. This disparity is troubling to PwC and they say; we cannot run our firm without women… women advance through the firm nicely, but then after a few years they leave in larger numbers than their male colleagues…

The challenge is how to keep women in the game long enough to rise to the top, so we can change those numbers?  An essential part of retaining and advancing female executives is to encourage women to be ambitious; a concept many women have a hard time embracing. Ambition simply refers to desire for mastery, and attaining that level of mastery typically takes a long time. To master anything, e.g., the violin, an athletic sport, or anything in your role at work– takes about 10,000 hours, which is why in professional services firms like PwC, the path to partnership tends to be about 10 years.

To sustain the effort required to pursue a goal for that length of time, employees need inspiration, recognition… but for managers to inspire, recognize… their employees, they need to understand the differences between men and women when it comes to ambition. More women must opt-in through a combination of push and pull. Women have to push forward to pursue career goals and demonstrate their ambition-commitment, but at the same time managers must pull them forward with recognition and mentorship…

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Ambition is dangerous and yet essential. The worthiest ambition is the one that goads us to make the best out of whatever talents or conditions life hands us, and sets goals that adds value to a business, to a community, to knowledge, to life itself. According to Nitin Nohria; good ambition demands that wealth be created in way that benefits and inspires others. Ambition asks for creativity, daring, and timing. Neither can it be taught nor is it a birthright, but it can be learned; without ambition, no conquests are made, no lands discovered, no businesses created. It is the root of all achievement… 

According to Ron Kurtus writes: Although being ambitious is a positive personal character trait, being too ambitious can result in negative character traits. Some people may have such a great desire to succeed and are so ambitious to reach the top that they may become ruthless, dishonest or harmful to others… Unfortunately, many ruthless people– those with too much ambition– reach the top.

According to Karen Finlayson; what comes first, ambition or achievement? I believe that it’s only through achieving that we are propelled to go on and achieve more; it’s making achievements that gives us the courage to have ambitions to do even greater things. But there has to be a flicker of ambition in the first instance, not necessarily to change the world, but to do one small thing and by being successful in the small things we recognize that actually we can do so much more!

According to Jay Turo: Ambition is important– but not the garden variety type, for example; those that get good grades, go to a nice college, start a small business… No, the ambition I am talking about is one that burns so deep and hot that it’s dysfunctional. An ambition that usually translates for sure into an insane, other-worldly work ethic, but one that goes beyond that. It’s an ambition that is channeled daily into ongoing personal and professional improvement and learning. An ambition that leads to a goal that is beyond being realistically possible.

This kind of ambition is the unifying force, which demands that everything be done right; strategy, tactics, innovation,  entrepreneurship, execution, management. Find this kind of ambition– channeled to ethical and capitalistic ends… and support it; then, the world will be better for it… A quote by Thomas Jefferson; nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude-ambition from achieving his goal; nothing can help the man with the wrong mental attitude-ambition.

Ambition is what leads to success in your respective industry, but success is found in a life lived not dreamed, one that is propelled by action not a desire to act, a life filled with fears faced, limits pushed, and relationships cultivated. A successful life is filled with experience and action, not wishes. You and your ambition need to be one with each other. You must understand each other and be on the same page so that you can fight the battle together and not torn in separate directions.

Your ambition demands a lot from you, more than you have imagined so being prepared for it puts you in a better position of succeeding. Your ambition wants you to dedicate your life to hard work, perfecting your craft, sleepless nights and sacrifice for sake of having the life you wish to attain. Embrace the passion and  follow the dream, and let ambition be your fuel to become the best you can be: Never, ever settle for mediocrity…