“Ambition is multifaceted, has many names and faces. Ambition is having the courage to live your life as a reflection of who you are,” explains Sophie Brochu, CEO of Hydro-Québec and leader at The A Effect.
In other words, ambition is the momentum that drives you to achieve your goals, no matter what part of your life they’re in. It’s the fire burning deep inside that gives you the energy you need to carry on despite the setbacks, to confront your fears and push back your limits.
Taking on a leadership role, starting your own company, seeking professional fulfilment while giving your children a happy home, earning a living as an author, getting a PhD, becoming mayor… It’s up to each woman to shape this as she sees fit.
Dreams in All Shapes and Sizes
And keep in mind, no ambition is too great or too small. While you shouldn’t hesitate to set yourself goals that initially seem beyond reach, there’s no shame in pursuing goals that others might view as modest.
As psychoanalyst Sophie Cadalen explained in an interview in the newspaper Le Monde, “The ambition common to all people is also – and above all – that of giving life meaning.” An excellent reason to adopt good behaviours to give it a boost!
6 Tips to Propel Your Ambition
1. Acknowledge your ambition and own it
“When I started the Ambition Challenge, I didn’t know what my ambition was. I couldn’t explain what ambition meant to me,” confides Marie-Justine Lavoie, now a graduate of the Défi 100 jours, the French equivalent of the Ambition Challenge. Finding the right words to define your ambition, your goals, isn’t easy, and even top corporate leaders get introspective on a regular basis to properly understand the meaning they want to give it. Acknowledging your dreams and goals is the first step!
Next, own your ambition. “Will they think I’m good enough? Will I be appreciated as a manager? Do I really have what it takes?” Doubt is healthy when it comes to making an important decision that could have an impact on your life or those of others, but it shouldn’t stop you cold. The key is to pair your ambition with a good dose of self-confidence.
2. Communicate your ambition
Ambition is no different from anything else: if you want to advance toward your goals, you must first give them a name. It’s a proven fact! Speaking about your ambitions to colleagues and loved ones is the first step in achieving them. It’s like subtly engaging the process. But even more important: communicate your goals to your superiors. Does this scare you? It’s perfectly normal. But be aware that expressing your ambitions to your boss sets up a ‘system’ that will allow you to solidify your plans with their support.
3. Don’t be put off by attempts to discourage you
J.K. Rowling received a dozen rejections before finding a publisher for the first volume of her Harry Potter series. One of the publishers she met with even encouraged her to find a “real” job, assuring her she would never earn a living as a children’s author. Twenty years later, she has sold more than 500 million copies of her books worldwide.
4. Surround yourself with the right people
Isabelle Hudon always says, “Surround yourself with people who don’t find ambition disturbing. Life is too short to spend your time worrying about what others think.” Among your family, close friends, and colleagues, identify your allies: those who believe in you, those who can give you support or advice.
5. Take one step at a time
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” U.S. Army general Creighton Abrams used to say. Break your challenges into small, manageable steps. And – super important – celebrate each success!
6. Hang in there
Sometimes you’ll get slowed down, need to take a detour, or you might even fall. It’s unavoidable. To change your mindset about failure, change your vocabulary. Replace “failure” with “partial success”, an expression that Isabelle Hudon uses often. In viewing a failure as a learning opportunity, you’re adopting a winning attitude.