What’s Your Driving Ambition?

by  Tara R. Alemany  |  Self Leadership

As 2010 comes to a close and we prepare for a new year ahead, it’s worthwhile to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year and what we hope to achieve in 2011. As seasons of our lives change, so do our motivations and dreams, and all successful leaders know that you have to know your current state in order to properly plan for future actions.

While many of us take this time to update our business plans, ready to get a jump-start on the New Year, I want to take a step back a moment and ask you a deeper question. This question forms the foundation for everything you’ve laid out in your plans, because it identifies the source of your motivation and how committed you’ll be to carry out the actions in your plan.

So, here it is… Are you ready? My question simply is:

What is your driving ambition?

Now, some of you may be squirming at reading that question… After all, when you read the phrase “ambitious leader,” images may pop into your head of political leaders who have stopped at nothing to secure their power, or industry magnates who attained fame and fortune while climbing on the backs of others.

However, everyone has an ambition that motivates them and dictates which courses of action they pursue, and which they pass by. defines “ambition” with the following terms:

“an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, aspower, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment”.

While we tend to cringe when we think of “ambitious leaders” because of the negative connotation associated with them, by itself, ambition is not a bad thing. The real issue is whether your ambition (the thing that motivates you the most) is self-focused or “other-focused.”

The definition above focuses on power, honor, fame or wealth as being some of the top ambitions. But what if you approached this year with the ambition to be more connected, as our fellow leader, Monica Diaz (@monedays) is passionate about? Or if you decided to be more encouraging to those around you, as Thomas Waterhouse (@encouraging) inspires us to do? Or if you chose to raise the bar on your own self-leadership, as William Powell (@LeadrshpAdvisor) has done? Or if you’re determined to do the right thing like Ted Coiné (@tedcoine) because you know that being socially responsible pays? Or even if you decided to be as Christ-honoring as humanly possible, as our group’s founder, Mike Henry (@mikehenrysr), strives to do?

We have so many great leaders in this group, who model the kind of ambition that ultimately makes the world a better place to live. So find those who inspire you, and seek to learn from them. I know that my fellow Round Table members have inspired me this year with their own unique ambitions. Susan Mazza (@SusanMazza) brings accountability into our lives, which helps us reach goals that would otherwise be a stretch for us. Erin Schreyer (@eschreyer) models a bright, positive, giving nature that’s refreshing. Shawn Murphy (@shawmu) is truly a mindful leader, aware of the needs of those around him and willing to help in any way he can.

So as you view the blank slate of 2011 spread out before you, what will your driving ambition be? What will motivate you to scale new heights? Will you choose to make the world a better place as you build your business, your teams, and the community around you? Or will you fall into the trap of worldly ambition, seeking instead for power, honor, fame or wealth?

As the greatest servant leader of all time, Jesus Christ, shows us, seeking to serve others first is something that will never be forgotten, even long after you’re gone…

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What People Are Saying

Mary C Schaefer  |  30 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Tara, what a great post. Inspiring reflection and challenge.

This is one of the things that has been bugging me about some leaders (in title) that I have seen in the public light lately. My reaction has been, “Doesn’t anyone have any personal ambition lead in a way that reflects being a good person, or serving their fellow human beings anymore?”

You said it well this say: “Will you choose to make the world a better place as you build your business, your teams, and the community around you? Or will you fall into the trap of worldly ambition, seeking instead for power, honor, fame or wealth?”

If I haven’t been clear about it before, my ambition is to transform how corporations view their employees, with reverence for the precious Human resources they are. My wish is that one day we all embrace the belief that there is an inestimable power and potential in human beings treating each other humanly.

Thank you Tara for reminding me to reconnect to my ambition today and in 2011.

Tara R. Alemany  |  30 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks so much for your kind words, Mary. I’m glad that you found the post inspiring. I did too, as I was writing it! So much so that I felt compelled to share it with my 13-year-old daughter. I’d like to say that she found it revealing and inspiring, but she didn’t see what got me so excited… :-)

Your phrase human beings treating each other humanly jumped off the screen at me. That’s exactly the choice we all (leaders and followers alike) need to take in order to make a difference in our little piece of the world. It’s what puts us in a mindset of being “other focused” instead of self-focused.

Thanks for sharing your insight, and more importantly for sharing your ambition. I am convinced that you have been, are and will continue to make a difference in the world around you.

Thomas Waterhouse  |  31 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Yes, Tara, my driving ambition is Simple Encouragement®; that we all might learn to cherish one another in the three distinct ways the construct embodies. Simple Encouragement® speaks life to potential that another can barely see, much less claim. Simple Encouragement® speaks healing to pain that hides politely behind pleasant smiles. Simple Encouragement® speaks light to darkness, and with grace, frees others from hiding and shame. Simple Encouragement® will always animate something in another that reveals a gift, heals a hurt, or breaks a bonding fear. I endeavor that one day we will all quite naturally, and intimately, relate to one another with that very focus, depth, and breadth. I dream that we all live with the connection that we shared in those post 9/11 times (! I notice, dear friend that you love and relate quite naturally in that fashion. I also notice that as your honor your Leader, you shine with His light! Love, blessings, and joyful productivity to you in 2011, Tara! Happy New Year, everyone!

Tara R. Alemany  |  31 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thomas, I’ve been quite blessed by our friendship this year. I can state firsthand that your Simple Encouragement® is remarkable. Your driving ambition is clear, and you pursue it with honor, grace and integrity. I love how naturally you embrace others and connect with them, as Mary states above, as a human being treating others humanly.

I am certain that through your work, pursuing your ambition, more of us will find it easier to speak those words to others that bring life to potential, healing to pain and light to darkness. Thanks for being a leader worth following!

My love and blessings to you too, Thomas! May you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Elmer Querubin  |  31 Dec 2010  |  Reply

I really love your post, Tara. Especially your reference to Jesus, as he was the greatest servant of all time who gave it all for us.

Honestly, what is driving my ambition is simply to have the time to spend with my wife and future kids. I grew up in the latch key kid era. This was a time where america gave young kids the keys to the house, but no parent to oversee us. I don’t even remember having dinner with my mom or dad as a child. I just remember they worked… a lot.

My ambition driven by the fact that I want to be there for my family. I want to generate as much passive income as I can so I can be there for my wife’s anniversary. I also want to be there for my children’s activities, like the football game or the dance recital. My ambition is really simple, I want to be the father who is around… not at work.



Tara R. Alemany  |  31 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for sharing, Elmer. I believe that when men choose to stand and be leaders of themselves and their households, families are blessed. Your wife will know she is cherished, because you choose her above all worldly things. Your future children will know the same. That instills something wonderful in the people we love, and is a gift beyond compare to them and to the world around you.

Elmer Querubin  |  02 Jan 2011  | 

I do try my best to make my family know that they are a priority in my life. In fact, my wife knows that she’s a priority. The trick is keeping my priorities. I already know that I can become a work-a-holic, but I must go against the grain and spend time with my wife. It’s important and I think it’s a challenge all men will face in their life.

Thanks for your encouraging words, Tara.

Shawn Murphy  |  02 Jan 2011  |  Reply

I’m grateful to have you as part of my circle of peers. Here’s to a year of unstoppable success!

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