Can You Have Too Much Ambition?
For the past few weeks, the word “ambition” has been on my mind.
I’ve conversed about this with my mastermind groups, and I’ve made it the monthly topic of discussion in our online Community. Ambition can be a great thing, but it can also be a dangerous characteristic if you don’t control it and conduct yourself responsibly.
As I said in a recent blog post, sometimes I feel like I might have too much ambition. If you’re an entrepreneur, that feeling is probably something to which you can relate. When you wake up in the morning eager to get to work, anticipating the next level of success, your ambition is fueling your efforts. It’s important to have a healthy motivation and a drive that helps push you through the challenges of being an entrepreneur. But when you let that ambition consume you, it can quickly become a destructive force.
What happens when you have too much ambition?
In my book View From the Top, I tell a story about a time when I was overly ambitious. I wanted to create a business in an industry in which I had very little experience. I was confident in my abilities, and had a high interest level in that field, but starting that business caused me a lot of stress that I could have avoided.
You can use your ambition to accomplish great things, but there are times when your ambition can get the best of you and cause you to make headstrong decisions that have unintended consequences. The best way to make sure you don’t have too much uncontrollable ambition is to always have a trusted group of advisors that weigh in on your business plans before you make the final decision to move forward.
It’s easy to let ambition, passion, or emotions nudge you into a venture that you anticipate will be successful. Seeking level-headed logic from wise people who have your best interests in mind will give you an astronomical advantage. The third party non-partisan advice that you will acquire from your trusted advisors can help you avoid catastrophe and keep you from making rash decisions. Your trusted advisors can also be a source of affirmation when you weigh your ambition and aspirations with their council and they encourage you to move forward with your plans.
In his book Ambition: Leading with Gratitude, Seth Buechley tells us about another downside of having too much ambition. As Seth puts it “The negative side of being ambitious is that we commonly carry a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are now. We are often ungrateful for what we already have, regardless of how good we have it. The natural state of the ambitious leader is not gratitude; it’s closer to dissatisfaction.”
Ambition can serve you well, or it can steer you wrong. My mastermind groups are currently reading Ambition: Leading with Gratitude to learn more about how to harness the potential of ambition and avoid the potentially devastating side effects of misplaced ambition. Embrace the good side of ambition and have a healthy pride in taking some satisfaction in your accomplishments. Express gratitude when you achieve what you set out to do, and don’t allow yourself to be perpetually dissatisfied. When you and your ambition are working towards an honorable objective, you’re really living on purpose.