Ambition, in an individual, can increase advancement of personal goals and aspirations. It is a trait admired by some but rejected by others. It is often quoted as a prerequisite for personal success but not everyone agrees with that contention.
While the ambition of yourself, or your family, may help you achieve an excellent education and eventual success, it may not mean that you are necessarily any happier within your private life. In fact, some people might say that high achievers are not as content and as happy as those with more modest expectations of themselves.
Theoretically, ambitious people should be the most contented because they may attain wealth, acclaim or power – however, it is a fact that many high achievers often experience a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction can push you forward but it can also trigger unhappiness if it becomes an obsessive focus.
We are well aware that we are all different. Parents bring up children in a similar way and yet some are success-driven while others are content to merely ‘go with the flow’.
Some of us want to kick those doors of opportunity open while others can’t even find those doors even though they are clearly there. So we need to acknowledge the innate difference within ourselves and our various family units.
Increasing ambition within the team.
You may have seen great potential in Jason, who is one of your team and although you have encouraged, motivated and tried to inspire him, all your efforts seem to be in vain. Jason is apparently happy with his current position and doesn’t want increased role and responsibility.
He wants to close his office door and the end of the day and go home to his family without thinking about his job again until the next morning. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with that if it is his choice.
However, there may just be some issues that are holding back his natural progression. You may see something special in him that he doesn’t recognise himself. Maybe a talented older brother was the main focus of his family and Jason was never pushed to excel in the same way.
So now, he finds it difficult to change those expectations. He is happy in his comfort zone so why should he move out of it, just because someone else sees potential in him?
He has no personal desire to advance his career beyond the present. The reality is that often those with low ambition need to be motivated and probably cannot do this by themselves.
So let’s look at some strategies to help Jason and others along the way:
* Get to know all the individuals in your team: Have empathy with them to keep them motivated. Identify everyone’s strengths.
* Increase job satisfaction: Find reasons for recognition of individual effort and personal achievement.
* Job status: Those with low ambition are often given work that is regarded at ‘low status’. Motivate and inspire everyone to exploit their abilities and natural talents.
* Have control over their work: Whenever practicable, let your employees chose a task or project in order to take ownership of it. They will then gain a sense of satisfaction upon its completion. The more control an individual has over his/her work, the more they will own and take responsibility for it.
* Realistic expectations: Make sure that your demands of your team are realistic. That way, it will hopefully achieve what it is that you want it to do and it will raise the self-confidence and self-esteem of all its members.
* Set challenging goals: Motivate everyone to improve their productivity and output by recognising their individual effort as they chase their dream. It is OK to introduce competition and to set challenging goals that will provide the inspiration and motivation that is so essential to achieving competitive advantage.
But with all of this, we shouldn’t forget the fact that we should be grateful for what we have and for who we are and to practice ‘mindfulness’ and ‘live in the moment to enjoy the view’ in order to see what has been achieved. That in itself can bring satisfaction and happiness.
However, staying in one place for too long can bring boredom and dissatisfaction. It’s often a fine balance.
The author is a BBC Guest-Broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international Stress Management consultancy and her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ is available in all good bookshops.