WOW Word-Of-the-Week #491: Ambition

January 2, 2014 by  

Ambition – a strong desire for success, achievement or distinction.

Do you think of yourself as having ambition? Do you have a fire in your belly to accomplish something? Do you have a plan on how you are going to achieve what you want?

The beginning of the New Year felt like the right time to revisit this WOW that I wrote back in 2006. Time Magazine featured an article on early signs of ambition that included several well-known celebrities. “Oprah Winfrey could read at age 2 and skipped second grade. At age 6, Tiger Woods listened to motivational tapes – I will make my own destiny – while practicing his swing in the mirror. In grade school, Martha Stewart organized and catered neighborhood birthday parties because, she says, ‘The rate of 50 cents an hour for babysitting wasn’t quite enough money.'”

“Not only do we struggle to understand why some people seem to have more ambition than others, but we can’t even agree on just what ambition is.” Anthropologist Edward Lowe, ambitionsays, “Ambition is an evolutionary product. No matter how social status is defined, there are certain people in every community who aggressively pursue it and others who aren’t so aggressive.”

Dean Simonton, UC Davis says, “Ambition is energy and determination, but it calls for goals too. People with goals but no energy are the ones who wind up sitting on the couch saying ‘One day I’m going to…’  People with energy but no clear goals just dissipate themselves in one desultory project after the next.”

This week’s focus is on ambition. Do you have a strong desire for success, achievement or distinction? Do you think that ambition is learned or genetic? Is it okay to want fame or power? Do you have energy and determination when it comes to creating and achieving your goals?