The Ambition Gap: Defining Success
I’m not traditionally ambitious. I’m not aiming for the C-suite or trying to reach a certain salary level, but anyone who knows me knows that I have a huge vision. I’m aiming to shift the paradigm and move beyond the get-to-the-top talk. I left the corporate world in the ‘90s. I didn’t leave because I couldn’t go higher or because I wanted a baby — I left because I was being asked to do things that compromised and undermined my values.
Designing your life around different and more meaningful goals is leadership. This includes raising children, seeking personal fulfillment, contributing to society, improving the lives of others … and yes, climbing a career ladder, too. We must get away from the belief that leadership can only happen in traditional roles within large established institutions or corporations.
To redefine what success is for you, alignment is the key. Before you can act on your goals and aspirations, you need to ensure that your values, talents, and desired impact are all on the same page. This begins with identifying what you value, what you bring, and ultimately, the difference you seek to make in the world.
In our work at Move The Crowd, we express it as “The L3”: how you Live, Love, and Lead. Your answers to the following questions will help you define your own flavor of success and make peace with your ambition:
1. How you live is all about what you value. As you think about the life you wish to live and the kind of world you wish to inhabit, what values are most important to you?
2. What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities that you have to share with the world? Think about the things that energize you and bring you true joy when you are able to share them.
3. As you think about the difference you wish to make, what do you feel most called to change, create, reimagine, discover, enhance, shift, and/or transform in the world? How you lead speaks to your highest calling and answers this question: What is the ultimate impact you want to have on the world?
Allow yourself to bask in and be energized by your L3. There may be brand new elements here, or perhaps you were just affirming what you already knew to be true! You can now use these answers as a guidance system to design your life. Also, begin to notice where you’re not fully stepping into your L3. In my experience, if you’re failing to act on your greatest desires, it’s because of one (or more) of these three primary reasons:
Reason 1: You’re confused. You’re not sure exactly what your greatest passion or purpose is. If you do know what it is, you have no idea where to begin, or how to take the first step.
Reason 2: You’re afraid. Afraid you’re not being good enough, afraid you don’t know enough, afraid of getting it wrong, afraid of not having an audience.
Reason 3: You’re not convinced that you will make money. If you quit your day job and follow your heart to do good in the world, you aren’t sure that you won’t starve. Success as we define it is also undergoing a much more radical reinvention. Since we can (and must) define it, we also get to decide how we BE as we walk our path. So don’t beat yourself up if you are experiencing fears about embracing your greatest desires. I’ve been there.
A wise mentor of mine (the effervescent Lisa Nichols) once said to me, “Fear can take the driver’s seat or it can be something you throw in your handbag and take with you as you keep climbing.” Once you’ve identified your values and addressed (and embraced) your fears, you can redefine success in a way that truly matters — and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the C-suite. Bring your whole self to this party and you’ll never fail. If you're ready to find out how to do that our roadmap is the first step. Start now.