A Habit of Ambition: Develop an appetite for what's next
I think of ambition as I do money or technology- morally neutral but susceptible to manipulation. Rappers have ambition, sure. But so did Mother Teresa. Ambition isn't inherently evil, but leaders must learn to channel it.
In it's purest form ambition is a knowledge of and appetite for what's next. The word appetite is critical and intentional. An appetite comes naturally, but it has to be fed correctly in order to yield health.
Look at your own life and ask, "How am I feeding my ambition appetite?"
"Is it producing health in my life?"
When your ambition appetite is properly fed, it will yield a desire to achieve, to grow, to perform, and to do one's best. It will also yield a healthy job environment, healthy relationships, and a healthy work-life balance. If you don't feed your ambition appetite at all, you'll yield laziness, stagnancy, and ineptitude. If you feed it wrongly, you'll end up with broken relationships, high turn over, and a poor reputation.
Ambitious leaders provide solutions, not just ideas. They constantly move toward completion. They honor others by showing up early and finishing on time. They always anticipate what needs to be done next and are always one step ahead, and they work on items they weren't asked or told to do but know have to get done. They move the needle wherever they are placed and are always looking for ways to improve the process. They are disciplined in their learning and understand the power of becoming an expert, no matter what level or role they play in an organization. Ambitious leaders write down everything immediately, knowing they will probably forget if they don't and that writing it down makes it a priority. They take initiative and remove things from leaders' plates around them.
Creating a culture of ambition- the healthy kind- will pay huge dividends for leaders. Ambition gives you and your people the will to do better, fly higher, accomplish more, push harder, and create something special. Nothing makes a leader more audacious.
So, whether you are currently climbing the corporate ladder, taking a break in midlife to re-evaluate, or straining toward retirement, you need to develop an appetite for what's next.
Excerpt from H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick