Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Despite this, in many countries, including my own, Italy, people consider ambition a negative trait as this is often associated with excessive power, arrogance, disrespect for the law and greed.
In this blog, I am trying to counter that argument to inspire all people out there, particularly the younger professional that are at the beginning of their careers. My message is: stop doubting yourself, follow your passion, work hard, develop an expertise and you will outperform your competitors.
Talent and mental abilities are overrated. There is abundant research proving that IQ is not sufficient to succeed and be happy. There is even stronger evidence that Emotional Intelligent people, those that have strong self-awareness and social awareness, are more successful, happier and make more money. Guess what, ambitious people typically work hard on their social skills and when they combine it with their General Mental Ability (GMA) they become better at performing a wide variety of intellectual tasks.
Strategies to bank on your ambition
So where do we go from there? Let’s start with the definition of Ambition. Ambition is the outcome focused personality trait found in people with strong desire to succeed regardless of the level of effort required. Ambitious people are self-starter and risk takers. They tend to be self-aware and develop social skills that help them building relations. They step outside of their comfort zone even when they don’t have the skills required. They embrace failure as a necessary path to success.
Here following are a few actions that can help you execute on your ambition:
Decide now: Decide what your goal in life is. And if you are not sure about it, start with something you like doing and where you can continue learning. This will allow you to focus and get better at what you do every day. The more you focus, the more you produce, and the more you produce the more self-confident you become. Once you have confidence and you have reached high level of expertise, people and the market will follow you.
Don’t try to please everyone: Learn to ignore what others think of you and your decision and stick to your plan. When you stop caring about other’s people opinion you free up so much time to focus on the decisions that matter most for your success. In so doing, you become selective, and you focus on learning. And the more you learn that more you earn.
Become comfortable with rejection: The more you learn, the better your decision become, and when you fail, you convert shortcomings into positive feedback. You take rejections as positive guidance and empowerments inputs. When you are ambitious you tend to show up all the time even when you are not ready, and even when your product or service is not perfect. People that show up are those that believe in themselves and their plans and are willing to put in the hard work to get to the finish line.
Final thought: Compare yourself to someone you are competing against to win a 10 miles race. You are both in great shape, she is ambitious, and you are not. She has a stronger motivation to win than you do. Her chances of winning are so much greater than yours simply because she will do whatever she can to overcome her own limits, never quitting and always thinking of different strategies to win. This person has probably trained more and stayed focused to win the race regardless of her level of talent.