Ambition – Be The Game Changer

Ambition – Be The Game Changer

The primary definition of ambition, according to Merriam-Webster, is “An ardent desire for rank, fame, or power. A strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work

I recently worked with an organization where there was a palpable [and tangible] lack of ambition at most levels. It was an interesting and unique culture for me to be immersed in and study as it was the a truly fascinating example of lower skilled workers, coupled with a severely lower wage workforce than I have ever been exposed – en masse – to in my career and a company that, sadly, sought these types of employees so that there would be no challenge to the status quo.  I made several attempts with various groups and individuals, to tap into some motivation and desire for the field leadership to want more for themselves. I spoke, ad infinitum, about self-development and being selfish when it comes to career path and personal learning for marketable and necessary skills that the organization did not support. When one or two people would show even the slightest elevation in ambition in this environment they would suffer the unfortunate result of becoming a target of ridicule among their peer group and even, at times, their leadership and they would quickly fade back into the crowd.

A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.  -Marcus Aurelius

The Positive Power Of Ambition

The fact of the matter is that there are lots of benefits to possessing and owning the character trait of ambition. Ambitious people, generally, know what they want, they have clear goals, and a plan to accomplish them and they are able to tune out people who are their detractors. They embrace challenges, they learn from mistakes – they know they are necessary to move forward and learn from.

Ambitious people create their own luck and are masters of their destiny. They have tremendous determination and willpower that propels them toward their objectives, on a daily basis. They are capable of evolving and assessing their current position to their goal(s), always watchful of the opportunities that are out there for those who are passionate about their purpose.

Ambition is also major catalyst for personal and professional growth & development. People who wish to be more, know more, accomplish more, and/or have more, have a compelling and powerful purpose and drive that leads them to think bigger and go further. Ambition drives them to advance and accomplish their goals. Well-aimed and supported by values, ambition reflects a healthy self-esteem and higher power of mindfulness, self-awareness, and the ability to visualize and shape their future. Ambitious people have butterflies in their stomachs and a sparkle in their eyes as approach their goals. They usually exhibit a contagious enthusiasm about accomplishing things. They inspire and motivate others around them who have latent ambition just simmering beneath their surface.

Conversely, people who lack ambition ask very little of a positive life and get exactly that. But instead of taking ownership of their stagnancy, they take the low road by excusing their lack of purpose and accomplishment by assigning blame to the world. They have few [if any] dreams, no vision, no direction or clear purpose and, therefore, they get nowhere. Many are “sheeple” and others play victims of their circumstance. So many of them lack moxie and feign ignorance to the fact that they are the cause of their current environment. It is their unfortunate lack of ambition and/or motivation that sabotages their future and their today. People without ambition consistently lie to themselves and frequently to others.  They don’t have the courage to take the risks required to be successful, they don’t seek personal improvement in order to see anything greater than what is happening around them or “to them” at any given moment. Such a tragic waste of potential and opportunity.

A great side effect of ambition – happiness. According to Heidi G. Halvorson Ph.D., a social psychologist, found that people set goals with two factors in mind: expectancy and value. “Expectancy” refers to how likely you believe you are to succeed, and “Value” refers to how good it will be for you when you do reach the goal.

Six Characteristics Of Ambitious People

  • They Are Secure: According to Benjamin Hardy, a fabulous writer who is currently pursuing a PhD in Organizational Psychology, “Non-productive people seek security externally. They seek security in a paycheck, or in friends, or perceived success. Rather than experiencing security, in reality, they are the slaves to these things.” Ambitious and productive people recognize that “security” is an internal job. They don’t invest time or energy into worrying about external “things” that can sabotage the average person and slow the masses from accomplishment. They are highly self-aware and possess a high-level of emotional intelligence around their direction and choices.
  • They Are Risk Takers: Ambitious people are willing to take a leap into territory that terrifies others. Even though these people feel the same emotions of fear and anxiety average Joe’s do around action…these feelings compel and fuel the ambitious person. Ambitious individuals act with purpose, but allow themselves the freedom to explore, adapt, discover, reinvent, and experiment.
  • They Have Openness To Experience [Novelty Seeking]: According to Psychology Today, “General intelligence evolved as a domain-specific adaptation to deal with and solve evolutionarily novel problems, so it makes perfect sense that more intelligent individuals, who are better able to solve such problems, are more open to novel entities and concepts that might potentially lead to the solution of such problems.” Novelty-seeking is a positive trait that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as we age. Novelty-seeking means you embrace adventurousness and curiosity with persistence. The benefit then becomes that you get the kind of creativity that supports your purpose and wider-reaching objectives.

  • They Have A Bias Towards Action: The average person spends the most time working on building their skill set/competencies and researching solutions or possibilities. While it’s beneficial to shape and execute a strategy for the vision or objective you want to achieve, ambitious people put the most emphasis on pulling the proverbial trigger. If your execution is terrible, nothing else matters.
  • They Are Dynamic Communicators Of Their Mission: The most creative of people are expressive and willing to share what they feel and think, to be authentic and available. People – generally – are emotional creatures and respond better to people who appear genuine, honest, and open. When ambitious people speak about their purpose and passion – they evoke emotion and share their enthusiasm with their audience.
  • They Believe In The Power Of Proximity: Your average person likes to hang around with others that will commiserate with them and those who also play victims of circumstance. Successful and ambitious people believe in the power of proximity. It is a generally accepted theory that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. People who desire greatness surround themselves with people who have the same drive and will support and encourage their journey.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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