Ambition is like a loaded gun. It’s a powerful weapon that if not trained to be used correctly can injure the shooter and or anyone within range. The word “ambitious” seems universally to connote a positive personality trait. I’m not sure how that “ambition” term became universally assumed to be a good thing. You know what they say about the word “assume”!
Dictionary.Com defines Ambition as: An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
If you read the definition carefully, you will notice it fails to mention anything beyond desire and willingness. There is a whole lotta nadda being said therein.
What is the ambitious persons’ intention for the accomplishment of their achievement? Is it intended to do good and benefit others or hurt certain groups or solely benefit themselves? For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to assert that readers here have pure and good intentions behind their ambitious goals. Now, having said that, desire and willingness are still not enough. And, even adding taking relentless action, it still is not enough. As a matter of fact, if you are taking relentless massive action on your ambitious goals, you may be running the risk of driving yourself to failure instead of to success.
Here are the Top Twelve Tools to Ensure Your Ambition is Driving You to Success Rather than Failure:
1. KNOW YOUR CORE VALUE. You must have a core value that becomes the basis for driving all your thoughts, words, actions and decisions. Examples: Honesty, integrity, loyalty, dependable, god directed, respect, etc.
2. HAVE A CLEAR AND CONCISE MASTER GOAL. A master goal isn’t something that you choose, it chooses you. It’s that one unrelenting goal that you cannot get out of your mind or quit going after even if you tried. For Gandhi, it was freeing the people of India.
3. DEVELOP HIGH LEVEL OF TOLERANCE. Judgementalism and quick to trigger temperament will cost far more than the expense of the thing in which you are striving to achieve. Long term success is achieved by those who know how to control their emotions and deal with frustrations rationally.
4. ADOPT A HABIT OF SEEING POSITIVE IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. There is a seed of positive benefit in every situation. Seek to see it and seize it.
5. TRAIN YOURSELF TO FOCUS. Focus only on what you need to do each day to meet your responsibilities and achieve your master goal. Eliminate all non-essentials.
6. MINIMIZE NEGATIVITY IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE. Get honest with yourself about the people, habits and behaviors that erode the quality of your time, energy, focus and life. Be brave and let them go.
7. LEARN EFFECTIVE COPING SKILLS AND STRATEGIES. Have a go-to decompress habit that works for you. Examples: Pray, meditate, exercise.
8. BECOME AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR. Yes, we live in a time of “remote” everything. It is not an effective all around strategy. If you fear talking to or meeting directly with the people you need to advance yourself, just do it or learn how to do it.
9. UNDERSTAND AMBITION DOES NOT REQUIRE AGGRESSION. Aggression is the antithesis of success. A pleasing personality is known to be a key to success. Be assertive not aggressive.
10. HONOR YOUR COMMITMENTS. If you honestly discover you cannot deliver what you promised, then just speak the truth and find a way to compensate the promised party.
11. CONSISTENTLY FOLLOW THROUGH. Sounds so simple, and yet, this is the most common occurrence I encounter on a daily basis when working with businesses, entrepreneurs and clients. Most are good at the front end of connecting, but 90% don’t follow through to deliver at all or effectively.
12. NEVER SACRIFICE YOUR VALUES TO GET AHEAD. There is nothing worth having that is attained by sacrificing your values. It will, at some point in time, come back to bite you hard in the behind.
“The main thing, of course, always, is the fact that there is only one of you in the world, just one, and if that is not fulfilled then something has been lost. Ambition is not enough; necessity is everything.” Martha Graham
If you combine ambition with purpose, positivity, persistence, pleasing personality, productivity, minimalism, non-violence (self or others), truth, focus, relentless adherence to your values, determination and lastly and most importantly: an urgent and unrelenting need to positively advance the quality of life for all beings; you will drive yourself to success and greatness. You will not need to seek fame, attention or acclaim. It will find you in the footprints you leave behind as you traverse the terrain to your destiny.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I don’t fall in love easily, but when I fall, I fall hard. The reason I don’t fall in love easily is because I’m super diligent about the person having a matching set of core values and beliefs to mine. Enter picture, the PERFECT guy. I mean, all the right inside rich stuff (I don’t pay attention to the outside stuff). He was the president of his place of faith, believed in God, prayer, family, and giving back. He was super funny, intelligent, in touch with his emotions, creative and highly ambitious. What could go wrong? It still hurts to talk about it. He got slammed with a bunch of big challenges all at once. He was pulled into many disputes that challenged his reputation, creditability and financial security. He was loved by so many. What I didn’t know is that in his struggle to maintain his status, he began to sacrifice his core values hoping that it would save his image and empire. Instead, he lost everything when it got uncovered. Then, he took his own life. Challenges come and go; money comes and goes; even people come and go; all that ebb and flow can successfully be navigated. But, the loss that often one cannot ever fully recover from is the loss of self, faith and ones’ values. Ambition alone is not enough.
This article by Linda Zander originally published on Forbes.com
I was sitting in front of a tenured senior manager of a world-renowned corporation, listening to his management problems. He was having a difficult time motivating his team to meet performance objectives. His overwhelm and panic induced by their underwhelming numbers was palpable. After he exhausted himself of his concerns, he looked directly at me, folded his arms across his chest and said, “Where do I go from here? I’ve tried everything I know.”
To make an assessment and provide positive direction, I proceeded to ask him a few key questions:
1. What is your management style?
2. How do you motivate your team?
3. What is your company’s core value?
4. What is your core value?
5. What is your relationship status with whom you report to?
6. How do you help your employees achieve their personal goals?
He paused. He didn’t have any answers. After a moment, he responded with:
1. “My management style is tough.”
2. “I motivate my team by telling them that they’re not doing well enough.”
3. “I don’t know what my company’s core value is.” (Even he was surprised that after a decade, he still hadn’t known or hadn’t thought to ask.)
4. “My core value is love.”
5. “I report to someone who’s fairly ‘macho.’ I’d like to speak more openly with him about how I feel, but I fear he’ll perceive me as weak.”
6. “I’ve never thought about how to help my employees achieve their goals. Why is that important?”
What his answers revealed is that he didn’t have a clearly defined, non-conflicting set of values to effectively direct and drive his actions.
Given the sheer size and financial strength of this household-name brand, there certainly had to have been a values statement and guiding set of principles in place to have grown it to the global level of success that it had achieved. But, after our session and subsequent talks with other high-level executives in the corporation, I discovered that they had lost sight of them and slipped into a “too big to fail” and “hands-off” corporate mentality.
Adopting one or the other is dangerous, but together, it’s potentially disastrous. A “too big to fail” mentality coupled with intentionally handing off the shaping of corporate culture to franchisees (asserting that if their risks failed, taxpayers would bear their loss) was causing a double-whammy moral hazard. From the top down, the corporation was engaging in exaggerated risk taking, weakening the fabric of the once powerful corporate culture and market discipline that had paved their path to success. Distancing themselves from their founding set of principles, they were now experiencing lost market share.
Shaping and sustaining a corporate culture reflective of a company’s values, beliefs and behaviors starts from the top. Founding leaders should know what their values are and work diligently to create a corporate culture that is aligned with them to be perceived and experienced by their employees and customers. The external success achieved is the result of the internal values that leaders instill.
The above corporation had gotten complacent, and if they didn’t hit the refresh button soon, they’d be facing even greater declining profits and brand erosion.
To be a highly effective and successful leader one must:
1. Have a clear set of non-conflicting values in place driving every communication, behavior and action.
2. Align themselves with individuals and organizations with like-minded values.
3. Never lose sight of your values regardless of challenges or how successful you become.
4. Help others to achieve success.
Start by asking yourself the six key questions above and answering them honestly. Your answers will help you analyze your current positioning in having a solid set of values and where they may need modifying. Once clearly defined, let your values direct your leadership activities to optimally foster an open, positive and motivational environment where attaining goals and sustaining success can consistently be achieved by you and your team.
Without consistently living a set of clear and non-conflicting values, there is no effective strategy or direct path to achieving and sustaining success.
It’s very common to question yourself whether you’re on the path to success or not. Feelings of “do I really have what it takes or am I just deluding myself” can creep into your otherwise confident and positive mindset. It’s normal. Questioning oneself is a healthy sign. It shows humility and a willingness to see truth and grow.
However, a habit of doubting yourself without taking action on the truth of what the answers reveal, creates stagnation and an unhealthy state of being causing damage to ones’ ability to achieve self-esteem, confidence, personal growth and success.
The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning. They’re always growing. They’re always pushing. ~Robert Kiyosaki
Are you a constant self-doubter or a self-doer? The most successful people understand that knowledge without putting it into action is useless. So, even if you are a seeker who is good at asking the right questions and getting answers, without application, the wealth of information received has no utility in helping you to achieve personal and professional success.
Before you go further in this post asking yourself the 7 questions that will reveal if you are on the path to success or failure, first answer these two prerequisite questions:
1. Are you a constant seeker of information who doesn’t put what you’ve learned into action in your own life?
2. Does your mind regularly and unintentionally drift to questioning yourself wherein you immediately push down or avoid addressing the question?
An honest appraisal of your ability to face truth and reality head on is the first step to being able to utilize your innate intelligence to move you out of stagnation and into attaining success in all areas of your life.
Now, if you can honestly answer no to the above or have answered yes and are willing and ready to move out of self-denial and into self-made success, then go ahead and answer the below questions that will further reveal if you’re taking yourself down the path to success or failure.
Ask Yourself These 7 Questions to See If You’re on The Path to Success or Failure:
1. Do I believe I don’t need others to succeed?
2. Do I regularly need to be right and insist on having my way?
3. Do I care more about competing against others than myself?
4. Do I think I don’t need to invest in my own personal growth?
5. Do I feel I don’t have time for rest, friends or family?
6. Do I spend more time nurturing my bank balance than my relationships?
7. Do I fail to express empathy for others struggles, challenges and concerns?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of the above, then you’ve entered the danger zone. It’s time to hit the pause button and take a time out to remember your values, re-prioritize your activities, and adjust your habits and actions to set you back on track to being a successful person.
Asking without answering is self-denial. Seeking knowledge without application is a waste of valuable energy. Doing without thinking is self-sabotage.
To become a success and stay a success, one must routinely ask themselves what they could be doing better, and then act on the answer.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I kept asking myself the same one question over and over, and year after year. Was this partnership right for me? And, each year I kept coming up with the same answer. Yes, it’s OK. Why, then was I experiencing more and more discontent? Finally, after a particularly challenging year in this partnership, I thought to question my “It’s OK” answer. What did “Ok” mean? I decided it was time to take it out of my head and get it onto paper. I drew up “the list”. You know the one. The pros and cons list. The result was that the pros side was very long and on the con side—1 single entry. Well, then, it would seem the landslide justified my inaction. But, upon further questioning of each item, what I realized was that the 1 single con represented my most cherished value. I had my answer, and it was time to take action. And, I did.