I'd never thought of myself as ambitious until about this time last week.
Enthusiastic, passionate, committed, maybe... yes. But not ambitious. Ambition connoted for me a kind of blind ruthlessness and aligned too closely with a self serving, corporate "me and my vision at all costs," way of being and doing in the world.
To admit that my past and current endeavours were and are at all ambitious, felt shameful and "not a very nice girl" thing to aspire to being. I shuddered and berated others for their ambition and convinced myself it was a dirty word.
But I've changed my mind.
I am ambitious.
I now know that ambition can mean and connote what I want it to mean and connote. It doesn't need to be imbued with ruthlessness and shameless self promotion if that's not what resonates for me.
Ambition can be imbued with love, compassion, vitality and a deep sense of self awareness.
It can be imbued with passion and the ever present knowing that one day I will die and despite my best efforts, I will likely leave somethings behind me, unfinished.
But the biggest learning is that I can be, and now choose to be ruthless in my pursuit of excellence; unapologetically.
I choose wild abandon to the things that matter and to turn my phone off and ditch social media when I need to dig deeper than I ever have before to finish something that matters a hell of a lot to me and that I believe will leave the world a tiny bit richer than when I arrived on it.
Nobody knows that we're doing here. We're in space. We're hurtling through it and it gets dark and cold at times. We live in bodies that take up space and feel separate from the other bodies and we enjoy the company of animals and people with big hearts. We sometimes turn our cheek to the suffering of others and feel bad about it, but we don't know what we're supposed to feel when we see these images of other bodies, bloody and silent five times or more each day or walk past someone on our way to Readings with a sign that says, "My name's Mike, I need your help, spare change. I'm homeless."
For me, now, right now, ambition is about acknowledging that I feel things, that I enjoy some things more than others, and that when I go further than I ever have before and access reserves within me that enable me to zoom past a mental barrier that has been holding me back for too long, I feel more human.
I feel what I think is aliveness.
Ambition gives me the oomph to kick on, despite the silence and the addictive technologies that would rather see me buy their advertisers products, go into debt and create nothing of original, creative value.
Ambition is guided by what matters to me in the moment, right now and it is committed to growing and feeling and being excellent.
And right now, the world needs me to be excellent.
To be ambitious. And to not apologise for it.
Happy New Year :)
If you're ambitious too, and looking for a method to establish yourself on firm footing this year, you might enjoy reading this New Year's post from my current academic crush, Cal Newport.
In it, he talks about establishing what he terms a 'root committment' for the year ahead. A compass for grounding you in your goals and establishing the processes and rituals that will enable you to realise them.