The drive to reach something more. The slow but steady progress from somewhere monochrome to somewhere technicolor. A human force, propelling us toward our goals, compelling us to make changes, to work hard, to strive for something. Ambition conjures images of cruel dictators, but also of refined, centre-stage ballerinas. Does this human trait make monsters of us, or does it allow us to thrive?
Ambition is a term too often used. Thrown about in job interviews, and on dating profiles, ambition has become something we’re supposed to have, but something very few of us often feel. The truth is that many of us are not ambitious, we are happy to coast by and try to maintain a work life balance. Many of us may be keen to get a new job, or to complete training, we may be hopeful for something beyond our current situation, but more often than not, we are not truly ambitious. We are often afraid to reach to far, to get our hopes too high, or to dream with too much fervour.
But, why should we be ambitious? Ambition often seems somehow morally or ethically dubious, that our own drive should lead us higher in work or social realms feels sort of wrong. Ambition has long been tied to wealthy moguls, terrifying bosses with flawed emotional control, intense sportsmen taking their endurance to unhealthy limits. We are supposed to be ambitious, in a mediocre way, or to extremes. There often seems to be very little in the grey area of ambition.
Ambition doesn’t have to be a power-crazed battle to the top of an industry. Ambition should be an extension of our positive intentions, but even then it doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be an icy trek to the top of Everest, or a solo trip across the Appalachians. For some of us, perhaps aspects of our ambition do look like that, but for many of us it might be a more simple ambition- the ambition to create security for our family, the ambition to retrain for a new industry, the ambition to take on a new pastime or voluntary role. We can be truly ambitious for these things if we allow ourselves to put our all into them. Ambition doesn’t have to be about big things, it has to be about big drive, and big commitment.
We should be ambitious but when we find that ambition, if we truly want to achieve our goal, we must first be committed to it. Ambition alone does not accomplish anything. It is only the joining together of ambition and commitment which allows us to progress toward our next goal. Without commitment, ambition is just a bitter hope, often left untouched, for fear of what might happen. When we commit, when we see ourselves taking those steps on the path of our ambitions, we allow ourselves to feel the other side of the equation, the hope of what might happen, all that potential energy of something incredible in the near future.
Are you an ambitious person? What are you aiming for, and what are your intentions?
Featured image: Carolyn Christine via Unsplash.