Ambition is the fuel that drives you to grow, learn, and create.
But not all ambition is created equal. “Ambition” means different things to different people.
It all depends on where the source of your fuel is.
Internal and external motivations
To some, ambition means perfectionism. This is a limiting mindset because perfectionists depend on other people for validation.
Perfectionists do everything in their power to avoid mistakes. They put too much focus on the end result, which turns success into a binary metric.
Viewing success in black-and-white terms distracts from what is most important.
The mindfully ambitious person (or “healthy striver” in Brené Brown‘s words) takes a different approach. They know that end results are only part of the story. Their individual process of growth is what matters most.
When you derive satisfaction from within, you no longer depend on the others for approval. It’s freeing and empowering. Joy and satisfaction come more frequently, and stay longer.
Take the long view
Both the perfectionist and healthy striver have similar goals. They want to be successful!
But their approach getting there sets them apart.
Perfectionists may “succeed” in the short term with their focus on mistake-avoidance. But the long term picture of this mindset is grim. They spend their life living by other people’s rules.
The healthy striver also tries their hardest. But they know that mistakes and losses are wonderful learning opportunities. They get satisfaction from the process of learning and growing.
Next time you find yourself in a tough spot, take a few minutes to reflect on how you’re approaching it.
Are you open and curious like a healthy striver?
Or anxious and direct like a perfectionist?
Think about what you have to learn from the challenge. And consider the consequences of something going wrong. What’s the worst that could happen?
Usually it isn’t as bad as you think.