Blog Post #467 Ambition 1

Coaching for Life Success:  Ambition

Ambition can be viewed as positive or negative.  

Quoting from:   “Ambition is defined as a longing to accomplish something or even as the motivating factor for one’s personal success. Everyone has a goal or dream that he or she wishes to achieve, but sometimes it is hard to reach this without some sense of ambition or longing to attain it. The societal view of ambition is considered to be an essential quality of any leader. Anyone that has done great things in his or her life or even desired to do greater things possesses a certain ambitious quality.

Positive Ambition:  When your goals are good, not only for you but for your company or society.  Wanting to move up in a company, having the ambition to succeed.

I have used the adage “You cannot discover new lands unless you lose sight of the shore”.  You have to be ambitious to move away from your comfort zone, to seek new experiences, to grow in your assignments.

I was a high school teacher for seven years but wanted to be a college teacher and professor.  I was ambitious I wanted to move up to the collegiate level.  If you will, I was “hungry” to be at that level.  

And, once at the collegiate teaching level, I finished a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems, I applied for (‘sought after’) opportunities to be of service – from being elected to the board of directors.  Then when that organization needed somebody to chair their annual conference, I stepped up. I ended up being the conference chair for an international conference four times (the most anybody else has chaired was twice).  When the opportunity to be an evaluator for accreditation, I applied and have been an evaluator for accreditation for over 10 years. I applied to be a Fulbright exchange professor and was accepted to a short-term Fulbright in Eastern Europe.  While I did not apply and did not actively seek other recognition, I was named the “Computer Information Systems Educator of the Year”, the campus where I was teaching honored me and others as ‘excellent’ teachers. I applied for and was accepted for the United States Quality Award Program (the Malcolm Baldrige award).  I have been awarded two special awards for my service to my profession and to my campus.

Yes, I was ambitious.  

Could I have stayed at a high school teacher?  Yes – and worked at being the BEST high school math teacher.  But, I was ambitious and worked hard to be a great teacher, mentor and professional.

Scenario – you have been a great employee at a company for a period of time.  Should you wait for the manager/director / CEO to come to you and say “You have done well, I’d like to promote you”; or should you approach your manager and say “I think I have been doing a great job, what advancement possibilities might there be for me?” (i.e. being ambitious)

But ambition can also be negative.  A person can be so ambitious that he or she will cheat, use people in a negative way, be greedy to move up.  Such a person might be power hungry “I will do ANYTHING to get my next position” (or promotion, recognition, win the election or similar thoughts).

Adolf Hitler was ambitious to a negative degree.  He manipulated others, stepped on others, promoted genocide to reach his goals.  

Things to think about:

  • Are you ambitious?  How so? Positively ambitious or negative ambitious?
  • How are goals and positive ambition related?  Can you have BHAG and not be ambitious?
  • How can you challenge your ambition to reach your goals in a positive sense?

Quote for today: “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” 
― Maya Angelou


Posted by Bruce White

Leave a Reply