LEADERSHIP / AUG. 12, 2014
version 2, draft 2

The Power of Ambition

Many individuals new to the working world are ambitious. This is fantastic, the problem is often that they do not show that ambition in a way in which those that could help them move forward in their career will see it. Ambition alone is not enough if it is internalized, ambition must be something that is seen by others. It is very important that this ambition is for noble goals.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you start chasing your dreams. Ambition is important, but there are some concerns that can come from not following specific guidelines within your organization. Know that ambition is fairly threatening to those not secure in their position and being overly ambitious will create rifts in your relationship with those that are going to help you most. Ambition is something that must be controlled and handled with a sense of grace and poise.

What is a Noble Goal?

Goals are different for every one of us. The key is to find a goal that is noble for a lack of a better term. If your goal is to “get rich” you are missing the point. Why do you wish to “get rich?” Do you just want the security that extra income brings? Do you want to put your significant other or kids through college? Do you want to provide a life of travel and adventure to foreign lands to those that mean most to you? Those are all noble goals and will make it much easier to stay motivated on your ambition. If your goal, instead, is to bathe in a tub full of money, that is more akin to greed. That is not a goal, but a trait. You need to know why you wish to reach the more generic goals to ensure that you will push to make it happen.

As a writer, I had two goals in mind. Not go to an office and be at home more for my kid. If I simply said my goal was to stay at home it would make me sound lazy, right? Instead, the reason I wish to have the ability to work from a home office, instead of an office in a building, is so that I can be here for my daughter when she needs me. While the benefits are fantastic, sacrifices have to be made. Try not leaving your house for a few weeks in a row and see if you can stay sane! With that said, your goals should have an aspect to them that is something that you are proud of.

Is Communicating About Your Ambition Important?

I spoke to a number of managers and asked them about ambition in their employees. The consensus is that those that express a desire to move forward (upward or to gain more responsibility) are those that are watched more carefully and assisted more in that pursuit? Is that fair? Maybe not, but it is how things work. Showing ambition is key to actually reaching your goals.

Can It Backfire?

As with any particular set of skills, there can be hiccups. Being overly ambition can seem threatening. This is not to say you should not be ambitious and work as hard as possible to meet your goals, but do so within the confines of your particular position. For example, if you are currently an assistant manager, do not simply start taking over the duties of the manager. Instead, talk with the manager, get ideas as to what you can do to show your leadership abilities and let them guide you. This helps in two ways. First, it makes it clear to the manager that you are not trying to snipe their position. You are working with them to reach shared goals. This also puts the manager in a position of understanding that you know who the boss is and you are willing to do what is required within their specific guidelines.

Jumping the shark, as it were, or, just running with your own ideas and implementing new strategies makes you seem presumptuous and unable to work within the confines of a team. This does not just hurt your chances of moving up within an organization, it will actually make you look like a wild card and someone that cannot be controlled.

How do You Show Ambition?

Being ambitious is great. Communicating your ambition is greater. Speak with those in positions of power and let them know where you wish to go in your career. Once they know, they will watch you. Show them that you want that position more than anything else. Work as hard as possible, take on projects that are not necessary to take on and lead those that are around you.

Once others start to see that you are acting on your ambitions, and they are clear as to what you are ambitious about, things are going to go your way. The only way to fail here is to be dishonest. If you say you want a position, but you don’t actually do anything to earn that position, you are not being honest with yourself or your employer.

Ambition can also be a dangerous aspect of your working life. If you get too ambitious you can put yourself in a position that you are not yet prepared to handle. Ensure that you take small steps up the ladder of success. Don’t run up, you will trip and fall and may not get up again. Focus on the here and now with the knowledge that this moment will lead to the next. If you continue to find success in each of these moments, your ambition will lead you to where you wish to be.

Image Via: masterchannel

 

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