Aspirations and Ambitions. I’ve heard both referred to as positive and negative over the years. Some might say a younger employee is ambitious as they prove themselves in a new role at an organization. Ambition is also sometimes used to describe someone’s self-centeredness in their own career journey. Aspirational leaders are seen as very people-focused in how they lead themselves and others. It can all be used to describe someone who has a lack of self-awareness when it comes to their goals and true capacity and capability.
How are you leading yourself as you reach for your future goals? Are you more aspirational in your approach, or are you very ambitious in reaching the finish line?
Aspiration, or something you aspire to do or be, is often a bit open-ended. It’s typically grounded in a desire for personal growth and teamwork and less focused on timetables and structure.
Examples of Aspiration
- To lead a team of people
- Learning new parts of the business
- To lead at a certain level in an organization (Often not job-specific)
- To achieve a certain lifestyle level for you and your family
Ambition is typically laser-focused on hitting a specific goal. Often times the thought or the idea has very actionable steps to take and a deadline to hit the goal by.
Examples of Ambition
- Complete schooling or certification by X date
- Get a promotion in your job in a specific timeframe
- To learn a new skill set or ability
- To fit a certain financial threshold by a set point in your life.
- Land a specific GPA in school or to get accepted into a certain college
Do they work together or compete?
On the surface, aspiration may look like a passive and weaker strategy compared to ambition, especially for “A” type personalities. In reality, aspirations can be just as powerful as ambitions. Aspirations are all about the journey, while ambitions can turn into a, “Get there at all costs” mentality.
So now which one is better?
The answer is neither. Both have their place in your life. There are things that you should absolutely be ambitious about. Your schooling, personal care, certain financial goals; all can be very successful aspects of your life when you push them to greatness. Aspirations help you work towards large scale goals while lifting up others along the way.
Just like everything else in life, there should be a balance in the categories of goals that you have for yourself. Be overly ambitious (Ep 43) and you will potentially burn every bridge that you have built in order to get yourself to your goal. Sit in the comfortably of aspirations without action for too long and your aspirations will transform into dreams that you may not bring to reality.
Do both the right way
There is certainly a better way to go about both paths towards reaching your goals.
Aspirations: Be mindful of pushing your personal growth while on the path to your aspirational goals. Set stretch goals for yourself wrapped around knowledge and experience tied to a certain period of time. Check-in with yourself on occasion to see how you are doing. How have you changed in the last 6 months or a year and moves you closer to your goals? What relationships have you built along the way?
Ambitions: Have awareness of how your ambitions are impacting others. Are they inclusive or exclusive to others? Do people feel like they are a part of your story or a resource that you are using and will move on from? Focus your ambitions through the lens of relationship building and adding value to others along the way. Your ambitions can actively work against you if you go about them the wrong way. Show appreciation and recognize others that are a part of your success.
Harness the power of both ambitious and aspirational goals to pave a way for your ideal future state.
Today marks our 250th episode of the Passing the Baton podcast. I’m thankful every week for our Baton Carriers out there that listen to our show or read the newsletters all over the world. Thank you for your engagement and for allowing the show to be a part of your leadership journey.
Here’s to future growth together.
Make a better tomorrow.