A – Z of success by Sue Baker

Chapter A: Ambition

“Ambition is the path to success; persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley.


This is one of the quotes that emphasize the importance and role of ambition while pursuing success in different areas of our lives. Ambition can be defined as the desire to achieve something which warrants a lot of determination, hard work, and zeal.


Nothing comes easy, not even fraudulent activities. Holding on to ambition overrides skills and natural talent because ambition tells you to wake up and work smart. Ambition is an aspiration and intention or the drive to do or achieve something; the inner drive that tells you to work hard until you achieve what you want.


People who possess an ambitious attitude more often than not become successful. There is something great about having the will and the drive that secures you courage to achieve a certain goal. Most of life’s treasures exist; however, it is not served on a silver lining. This means you have to wake up and reach out for it. Reaching out for something requires you possess an undaunted ambitious attitude.

For example, there are job opportunities all over, but you have to have the desire to send cover letters and resumes till you get a job. If you want to buy a car without applying for a loan, you have to save some money till you have enough to purchase one. Ambition, in this case, helps you salvage that one coin from spending because you have a goal which is to purchase that car you dream about.

An ambitious attitude overrides talent. Talent is innate, and no one chooses how to be born. However, ambition leads one on the path towards unperturbed enthusiasm which is greater than just possessing a unique skill. There are innumerable people who are endowed with great talent but die without utilizing it. Why? Because they lack true ambition. Audrey Marlene once said that ambition is the generator that powers motivation and instigates the will to achieve.


It is important to cultivate an ambitious attitude. However, ambition is only priceless if channeled in the right direction. For example, you may be ambitious towards becoming the chief executive officer of the company you work for but what if it hurts the organization as a whole or brings a conflict of interest in the working relations between employees? It would still be ambition but one that leads one to hurt the others. Sometimes people have good ambitions but lead to dire consequences. Think of a person who would like to become a leader in order to spark positive change but uses dubious means such as corruption and rigging of votes to achieve that status. Most likely it hurts the people below him or her. Consequently, it creates a chain of ‘historical injustices’ as a result of people wanting to take revenge.


Ambition is and should always be a virtue. Additionally, you can be ambitious not only for yourself but for others as well. This way, you influence others near you to be ambitious as well. For example, Martin Luther King Jr had a great dream to stop apartheid. He influenced fellow blacks and some whites to adopt his dream and together they were able to abolish apartheid. His great dream led him to become ambitious; an ambition which fellow blacks carried on till they were freed of prejudice despite Martin Luther King’s death. This is the kind of ambition which is desirable; the kind that lives on for generations to come. For example, the ambition to make society, a better place to live in.


Ambition enables one overcome huge obstacles. The drive to achieve helps one not settle for less or become complacent. It is, therefore, important to identify the underlying factors that makes one become ambitious. Ambition can and is triggered by both negative and positive factors. Some of the negative factors include narcissism, mental illness such schizophrenia, inferiority and superiority complex.


Positive factors which make one ambitious could include the ardent desire to be creative, solve a problem or spark positive change, personal inner drive and solid self-esteem and confidence. Negative triggers of ambition will not lead you on the path to success. You may achieve what you desire, but that does not equal success. Embrace positive triggers of ambition. Remember that when you become successful, people who draw inspiration from you and your success story will want to trace your steps.


Sometimes, ambition subsidies and motivation is quite below ‘sea level’. It is human nature to lack the drive and be at zero motivation. According to some studies, this could be because of the fair share of the role genetics play in contributing towards one’s level of ambition. However, the environment in which you are in or grew up in could also significantly contribute to how ambitious you are in your life.

A person is inherently vulnerable to losing their ambition if the environment they are in influences them not to be ambitious. For example, a young person who wants to become a music artist may not step the stage if they persistently keep a company of drug addicts. While another with a desire to gain financial freedom and is constantly surrounded by investors will climb the ladder more enthusiastically.


Ambition gives life a purpose to live for. Most of the men who triumph in tremendous success are not necessarily the ones who had the best of everything or the best talents, but the ones who proved the world wrong with their ambition. Such successful people do not allow adversities to bring them down. The great thing about ambition is that it fills you with so much hope that you are constantly looking for opportunities. Ambition makes men become resilient and risk takers. One of the great philosophers in history, Niccolo Machiavelli said that men rise from one ambition to another; first they seek to secure themselves from attack, and then they attack others. Anyone can achieve success if they allow their ambition to take root.


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