What is ambition? 

The definition of Ambition from the Oxford dictionary states:

“A strong desire to do or achieve something.”

“Desire and determination to achieve success”.

But what does this mean in the real world and why do we so many people with no-ambition or too-much ambition?

A lot of people confuse aspirations with ambition, however, the key is in the difference between them. Aspirations are often goals or milestones you’ve put in place and then working towards that goal to achieve it.

Ambition is different. Ambition is a trait.

Continuously, creating new goals and milestones shows someone to be ambitious as they don’t stop once they have reached their current goal or milestone, they push to go further, to make themselves better and to challenge themselves.

A lot of people in today’s modern age lack ambition… Technology, benefits, and the comforts of the modern world make it all too easy for people to float through life without clear paths, goals or a desire to achieve. These people know that regardless of how well they do their government, laws, and technology will support them to live a comfortable life. So people have become less-ambitious…

On the flip side, some people have combatted this by being over-eager to achieve, wanting to skip steps and climb the ladder as quickly as possible, regardless of who or what they may takedown in the process. This is ego-driven ambition, people who want the biggest house or the latest car want to have the best to prove to the world they are the best. Although not a totally bad form of ambition, as it does promote competitiveness and the desire to be the best, it can form jealousy, cruelness and nastier side to ambition.

But what are some people ambitious and others not?

Well, I’ve been doing some research and it can have things to do with your upbringing (the nature vs nurture argument), birth order and your insecurities.

But let’s go through them 1 by 1.

  • Upbringing
    • How it makes people ambitious: Say you’re raised in a low-income household, struggling for money and often having to leave out things other children got for free from their parents. You create this desire to have more, to want more and to provide for your children… you guessed it… more. This creates people that are not ambitious out of ego but because they seek the comforts they have yet to experience.
    • How it makes people less-ambitious: Again, we’ll use a similar example, say you’re raised in a low-income household, struggling for things like the latest phone or the best designer clothes. You’ll get used to your way of living, never experiencing or craving what others have and therefore not becoming ambitious because you’re happy with the little you had as a child.
  • Birth Order
    • How it makes people ambitious: We’ve all been compared to a sibling, whether they be older or younger, more successful or have better grades. It’s happened. So imagine the youngest child who is years behind their older siblings in age but wants to keep up with their potentially successful older sibling, to rise above the pressures and examples they have set as a possible A-grade student. Sibling rivalry is common, so it often drives younger siblings to push over the boundary their older siblings have got to, to become more successful – creating more ambitious people.
    • How it makes people less-ambitious: Let’s take the same scenario and flip it on its head… A younger sibling has seen their older sibling reach a great height of success, one they believe they can never reach. They may come to the conclusion that “why bother?” if they think that their older siblings’ success is one they cannot reach. Their desire to achieve then becomes null and because they are used to being the “un-successful” sibling they will sit in the shadows their whole lives not wanting to overdo their older siblings.
  • Insecurities
    • How it makes people ambitious: We all have insecurities, whether it’s the size of our waistline, the grades we get in class or something else – we all have them. People can handle them in different ways, for someone who has a lot of insecurities this could drive them to overcome the psychological pressure they feel – overcome them and succeed. The desire to no longer feel insecure may push some individuals to push for a better life, to change their current scenarios for a better one.
    • How it makes people less ambitious: Alternatively, those who feel their securities are too great may withdraw and shrivel away from the limelight, letting their insecuriti8es rule their careers, friendships, and knowledge. These people want to hide, feeling that others can see their insecurities so again that “why bother?” attitude comes into play from those who are too scared to overcome their current life for a better one because they believe they will fail.

But I think all of my research and personal knowledge and experience has brought me to the conclusion that there are mainly two types of people.

Person A who wants to overcome their current life, may not have had the best upbringing or they may have – regardless of their birth order, insecurities or upbringing they don’t let these things hold them back. They use these things as reasons to push themselves to challenge themselves and succeed. These people are ambitious.

Person B who can be brought up in a great environment or a challenging one, regardless uses people, insecurities or other things as excuses to stay in the shadows, to not succeed because they feel the reasons they have are too big to overcome, to horrid or challenging to ever be achieved. These people are not ambitious.

I think the real lesson learned here is to turn all excuses or reasons where you feel yourself saying “why bother?” into reasons to overcome, to challenge and to eventually… succeed.