The Two Sides of Ambition
The above quote is one of my favorite, because it is so true.
Ambition is one of the most powerful motivators. The determination to succeed and win can drive you to great heights.
Some of the most successful people in the world did not crush it right out of the gate.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive, author J.K. Rowling was a broke single mother before her Harry Potter books hit it big, and the Beatles had to play thousands of shows at tiny clubs before getting noticed.
It was ambition and determination that helped these people work through the hard times and eventually achieve success.
On the other hand, there are plenty of ambitious people in this world who don’t see this level of success. What happens then?
Maybe your work isn’t being appreciated. In Mad Men, Peter Campbell is frustrated with not getting the recognition he deserves for winning clients for his firm. Hence, Trudy’s quote.
In this case, having ambition when you’re being held back can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration.
Maybe you have ambitions of being an entrepreneur but you’re burdened by financial responsibilities, such as student loans, a mortgage, and a family to feed. On top of that, if you hate your job, your ambition may lead to anger and resentment.
As you can see, ambition can cut both ways.
I think I’m a very ambitious person and have high expectations of myself. So at times when things aren’t going well with my career, I can get frustrated and envious of those around me who have achieved a high level of success.
How you react to your situation and harness your ambition will determine whether it’s a good or bad thing.
You have a few options here.
One option is that you can complain how you’re being held back and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can stay frustrated and let it continue to eat away at you. This will likely lead to strained relationships, poor performance, and an overall miserable existence.
The next option is just accepting your situation. You can weigh the pros and cons of the scenario – maybe your salary and job security is worth the lack of recognition or inability to become an entrepreneur – and just roll with it. While this isn’t ideal and you may have to temper your ambitions, you’ll likely live a relatively comfortable, satisfying life with good relationships.
Or, you can do something about it.
Speak up and ask for what you believe you deserve. Find another job. Strike out on your own, where you fully control your destiny. Or simply keep working and hustling hard.
Ambition can be an amazing trait to have, but it can also become a burden if you don’t harness it the right way. So make sure you do.