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Right-Sized Ambition

“To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”

― Steven PressfieldTurning Pro


To achieve success, be it personal or professional, you need to have ambition.

Ambition is related to our feelings, emotions, and desires. It is about the energy necessary to chase after your goals, whether in the personal, social, or professional field.  An ambitious person is one who works to overcome challenges and put strategies to grow into practice.

Becoming a good professional and reaching a prominent position in the business world takes ambition. That’s because our ambition pushes us toward our dreams and awakens the desire to get further and further into our career.

Therefore, to say that a person is ambitious doesn’t necessarily implies that it is a bad thing, although it doesn’t mean that it is a good either.  The secret lies in the amount of ambition each one has—it lies in the size of your ambition.

Right Size

Ambition, when left unchecked can prove to be extremely damaging, both professionally and personally.  While ambition is the willingness to face challenges and grow, unchecked ambition, often in the form of greed, results in wanting to have much more than necessary.

Deep down, ambition is translated into self-esteem, believing in individual potential, and our personal ability to win. When we are ambitious, we can fully make use of our potential.

We need to manage the size of our ambitions.   This is not to dream smaller or have fewer aspirations.  What is managed in right-sizing our ambitions is our decisions.


Every decision you make directly affects what you become.  We each have goals that are formed by our ambitions, and the paths to reach those goals are many.  It is up to us to select the decisions that incrementally take us down the path to attain those goals.

You define who you are by the decisions you make.  While your goals are the seeds to your success, it is the decisions you make on attaining those goal is who you are.

Good, ethical, caring decisions define you as easily as greedy, careless and mean-spirited decisions.  Only you get to make those decisions.

The Bible

James writes in James 3:16.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

So, what is the acceptable kind of ambition?  Matthew 28:19-20 says

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Wow, talk about ambition.  Jesus has instructed His followers to change the world.

Sure, Jesus instructs us that the meek will inherit the earth, we are to turn the other cheek, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  But we are to direct our God-given ambitions for the betterment of others and the Kingdom of God.

Cultivate Your Ambitions

Given the nature of ambitions and how God has instructed us to use our ambitions, here are several ways to direct and manage those ambitions.

  1. Be willing to sacrifice. Without hard work and the willingness to grind it out, you will not achieve your desired level of success. You must follow the basic science of success—your input will equal your output. Put your heart and soul into executing yourself without any wish for a lucky break.
  2. Be curious and eager to learn. To be radically successful, explore and learn new things each day.
  3. Build solid connections. Your network of connections is synonymous with your net worth. In today’s world, it is all about the people you know and how you can help each other get where you want to be.
  4. Be passionate about personal growth. Be in the continual process of examining and improving upon yourself, your life, your mind, your heart, your health, and how well you utilize your time.
  5. Keep your perspective. No matter the stress or turmoil you experience each day, harness your ambition and stay in balance.

Manage your ambitions by understanding the decisions you make will more likely define you than your successes.  Make your ambitions be for good, and strive to help others and to advance the Kingdom of God.