What is ambition?

What is Ambition?

Ambition is a strong desire to achieve, requiring determination and hard work. Ambition is subjective and complicated to measure. Some people may not fit society’s idea of “hard working” but are ambitious. There are many famed artists, intellectuals, teachers, protesters, etc. who were thought of as lazy and lost but, the whole time they were focused on their passion and their work became a huge piece of history. There are also many ambitious people who were never famous and have no desire to be. That is the group of people I love to search out and find!


       According to the Encyclopedia of Psychology David Mclelland’s acquired needs theory proposed that there are three different forms of motivation, individuals high in the need for achievement, individuals high in the need for affiliation. and individuals high in the need for power. None of these are bad motivators.

Need for Achievement

The Net MBA Business Knowledge Center describes his theory well by explaining each need clearly. According to Net MBA, those motivated by achievement have the drive to accomplish something that has an adequate level of challenge. Most people motivated by the need for achievement, appreciate feedback for their success. While others are simply satisfied by the completion of the project. If you are the type motivated by achievements it is important to challenge yourself. When you are not feeling challenged, thoughts of worthlessness will begin and can lead to depression. It is important for your well-being to find new activities to challenge yourself with regularly.

Need for Affiliation

     Those motivated by the need for affiliation are motivated by knowing many people. They want to know everyone and/or they want everyone to know them. They can be very friendly and non-confrontational or they could be overly aggressive and opinionated. There is no one personality type, anyone can be motivated by wanting to know many people. Feeling like they are part of the crowd is satisfying. People with this motivation could volunteer at shelters or food panties. Plan events and host gatherings with a purpose not to just party and get drunk. Some great ideas would be game nights, fundraisers, or cook-offs. Be creative with your motivation and use it to make a difference. It makes life more satisfying as well as others. Think Group Projects but funner!! (lol Yes funner)

Need for Power

      Those motivated by power, have been given a bad name due to all the people who abuse their position of power every day. The word power has a bag stigma. There are two types of power, personal and institutional.  Those who need personal power want to direct others which in our society is deemed undesirable. Institutional power, also known as social power is the drive to organize the efforts of others to continuously reach new goals for the organization. When I conducted a survey only 2 out of 50 people admitted to be driven by power. Wanting to be in a powerful role is not a bad thing. We are now taught to tell our bossy (or power driven) daughters that they are leaders but when they grow up they are told wanting power is wrong. According to google power in our context is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. If we had more power driven people who wanted to see positive change in the world, I have no doubt that we would see positive change. As long as that individual was able to stay on the healthy side of ambition, we would have successful change. Those of you driven by power gather people to clean up the neighborhood, run and coordinate a fundraising event, or run a program for singles. It’s ok to want to be in charge!

It’s all how you use your drive.

       All of these types of motivation are completely ok to be driven by. It’s when people break the backs of others to obtain their goals. Ambition is a great thing. Having long term goals is important but when you’re hurting others to get to your goal, you will be lonely at the finish line. Ambition is great but once you cross that line and become obsessed things can spiral out of control. It is important to continuously reevaluate yourself to be sure you haven’t stepped on anyone’s heart on the way up. Be proactive and accountable. Stay in touch with mentors or people you trust and really listen to them. Remember that they were loving enough to support you when you had nothing, so they will be loving enough when you’re out of control and have everything.

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