What's Your Driving Ambition?

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.

Dictionary.com 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…