When last we met, I challenged you to take a quiz: “Are you as ambitious as a 20-year-old woman?”
How did you score? If you’re lagging a bit, you’re not alone. It’s a challenge to keep our ambition fresh when we’re in the trenches focusing on the day-to-day.
As promised, here are a few ideas to boost your ambition quotient:
1. Pay attention to all the possibilities.
Ambition is often sparked by an opportunity that you discover or stumble upon. Are you attuned to what’s available out there, both in your immediate environment and a bit further afield? Are you remaining open to what may come along? It’s a mistake to burrow in so deep with your current job or assignment that you lose touch with what else is out there.
2. Pay attention to your desires.
Ambition is where possibility meets desire. So at the same time that you’re paying attention to the external possibilities, you need to get in touch with your inner desires. What drives you? What energizes you? What compels you?
3. Tell your story.
Where are you headed? What’s your goal? What does success look like? Package it as a story. Your story. Not only does your story serve to promote your brand in the workplace, it also serves to keep you focused and moving forward.
4. Connect with people who can help you.
According to Anna Fels, author of Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives, ambition has two components: mastery and recognition. Women don’t lack mastery. More typically, what women lack is recognition. So put together a personal posse that will acknowledge your accomplishments and urge you onward. Include in that posse at least one mentor and one sponsor.
5. Don’t be afraid to compete.
Ambition inevitably involves competition–for the assignment, the promotion, the contract, etc. In our culture, men are bred for competition from a young age. Women generally need to do some remedial work here. Plan what you need to do to strengthen that competition muscle.
6. Learn to embrace and enjoy the limelight.
Ambition requires high visibility. How clearly do you claim credit for your accomplishments? If you deflect recognition with a glorification of the team or an appeal to luck, don’t expect to be remembered when that coveted promotion comes along.
Ambition isn’t something we have. It’s something we do. So get going.