Ambition Jonathan Poland

Ambition is the drive and determination to achieve a particular goal. This can apply to any type of goal, including material, social, and philosophical ambitions. Some common types of ambition include:

  • Career ambition: a desire to succeed in one’s chosen career or profession, often involving a drive to reach the top of an organization or industry.
  • Financial ambition: a desire to accumulate wealth, often through successful business or investment ventures.
  • Social ambition: a desire to improve one’s social standing or to gain recognition or admiration from others.
  • Philosophical ambition: a desire to achieve a particular ideal or belief, often involving a drive to make the world a better place.

Examples of ambition could include a CEO who is determined to make their company the market leader in their industry, a young entrepreneur who is striving to build a successful business, or a political activist who is passionate about promoting a particular cause. Ambition is a powerful motivator that can drive individuals to achieve great things, but it can also lead to negative consequences if it is not carefully managed.

The following are common types of ambition with examples.

Optimism is the root of all ambition as this allows an individual to see a change they view as positive that creates desire and determination. For example, a kid who is optimistic they can beat a level in a video game such that they develop an intense desire to play and improve their results.

Wishful Thinking
Wishful thinking is optimism that is strongly detached from reality. For example, an ambition to become a famous musician that isn’t backed up by any action such as music lessons.

End-goals are desired outcomes that say nothing about how these outcomes will be realized. For example, the goal to be wealthy. People tend to waste resources and time by over-focusing on end-goals. For example, spending three years thinking about how you want to be a famous surfer without ever trying surfing.

Actionable Objectives
Objectives are meaningful steps on the path to an end-goal that can be actioned now. It is characteristic of people who actual achieve ambitions to think at this level. For example, a student who is thinking about their next math test as an objective on the long path to becoming an astronaut.

Silent Goal
A silent goal is a plan that you keep to yourself. This practice is based on the idea that telling everyone you’re going to something decreases your motivation to actually do it. For example, a father who gets his pilots license without telling his family such that they only find out when he first takes them up in a plane.

Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do things for their inherent reward. For example, a desire to do your work well because you find it satisfying such that it adds to your sense of purpose, direction and self-worth.

Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation created by a desire for external reward in such as wealth, status, experience and social connectedness. For example, an individual who works hard to gain the respect of their colleagues.

Persistence is motivation that endures over time such as a farmer with an ambition to increase yield who tries many experiments over five years before succeeding.

Resilience is motivation that doesn’t decrease with stress. For example, an individual with an ambition to get over a fear of public speaking who regularly challenges their own comfort zone by speaking in front of larger and larger groups despite finding this stressful.

Some individuals have no particular goals other than to “win” in every situation. This can be viewed as ambition with no end-goal. For example, an employee who tries to get promotion after promotion without this adding to their overall satisfaction with life.

Ruthlessness is ambition that isn’t constrained by moral values such that it results in bad behavior. For example, an ambition to win a game at any cost even if it means ignoring the norms of sportsmanship.

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