Restraining harmful ambition

“You can’t beat the smell of fresh ambition in the morning” (ANON)

Some levels of ambition are needed for achievement — the desire or will to succeed at something or to realise a set goal. Channelled correctly, ambition can bring great results. Ambition often gets a bad reputation, however, where the very characteristic that encourages someone achieving success turns into a game where winning isn’t about achieving, but rather in beating someone else. Here, the energy is going into the wrong pursuits.

While many of man’s greatest achievements are the products, or accidents, of man’s ambition, it is important that ambition is healthy. As Neel Burton, psychiatrist and author of “Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions”, notes: “People with a high degree of healthy ambition are those with the insight and strength to control the blind forces of ambition, shaping it so that it matches their interests and ideals. They harness it so that it fires them without also burning them and those around them”.

Cultivating a healthy level of ambition is tough and, amidst so much uncertainty, it may seem like a low priority. A well-balanced ambition, however, leads to creativity and innovation, greater levels of performance and deeper levels of joy and satisfaction at work, whatever “work” may be. Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review: “How ambitious should you be?”, after a lifelong career of coaching executives, developed a helpful model to help people understand how to cultivate and convey ambition in a productive and well-balanced way:

Measuring your own levels of ambition against Carucci’s framework assists with making mid-course corrections, both in attitude and in actions.

Ambition should never be harmful, not for others and neither for you. Ambition is indeed the seat of motivation to move you towards success — but it is not a manipulative power so that you can succeed at all costs. Robin S Sharma notes: “Be a warrior when it comes to delivering on your ambitions. Be a saint when it comes to treating people with respect, modelling generosity and showing up with outright love”.

Other Posts That May Interest You

Originally published at https://www.stretchforgrowth.com on October 11, 2020.

--

--

--

Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Stay At Home Orders Remind Me of Being a Latchkey Kid

Scene of rocky mountains and an open landscape in Montana with low sagebrush and animal trails

10 Present Moment Mindset Ideas Exposed

Why Worry? Here’s How to Break the Habit

Leisure

5 Best Ways to Make People Respect You

Zennic’s interview with Healyfe

7 Signs That Showed Me I’m On The Path To Success

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jonathan Mills

Jonathan Mills

Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.

More from Medium

The road to maturity

Dealing with social anxiety in an increasingly social world

How do we really prove to ourselves that we have what it takes?