3. Drive and ambition
The thing that will govern a desire to achieve success will typically be a goal. A goal may be to move towards an object of desire or to move away from something undesirable.
The goal to become the best will burn with intense fire in some, but will dissipate in others and circumstances sometimes dictate whether the passion to achieve a goal will be increased or decreased.
There are some individuals that have such a strong amount of drive that they are insatiable in their desire to achieve, and so much so that even when they achieve greatness they are still unsatisfied, like a hunger that remains even after a feast has been consumed.
The philosopher Epicurus once remarked, ‘any man who does not think that what he has is more than ample, is an unhappy man, even if he is the master of the whole world.’
This perspective presents a serious issue to consider, as the drive and ambition that creates greatness can also create dissatisfaction simultaneously.
The motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins has spoken of people that see themselves as unsuccessful even though they are extremely successful by conventional standards. One example was a guy that believed he was unsuccessful because he ‘only’ made $3million that year instead of making $4million plus. His own personal standards allowed him to perceive himself as a failure even though many others would have seen his results as success.
The truth is that in terms of income and being able to work with clients that are the most respected in your industry, those measures are typically objective, while determining whether you are happy with your position and accomplishments would be subjective and relate to your own personal standards.
A thing that is partly depressing for many is that the reason that they do not get to the top of their respective fields is that they simply sabotage their chances of success. Sometimes their lack of success can be put down to insufficient skills or a lack of strategy or a host of other reasons.
If an individual has a conscious or an unconscious desire to self-sabotage their success then no amount of mentoring or training will be able to help them. To have a desire to succeed is so important that it is the first step of Napoleon Hill’s 13 steps in his book ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ Hill calls it a burning desire and without it your chances of success will be seriously compromised.
In many cases of underachievement an individual simply cannot see themselves as being successful in the future. This may be an issue around their confidence or an issue to do with their self-image. The self-image is such an important part of a person’s identity that I will speak about this in great detail at another time. For now it is important to understand that if you cannot see yourself as being successful in the future then your chances will be between slim and non existent, simply because you cannot hit a target that you cannot see.
Some people simply are not ambitious due to the nature of their personality, and if you are truly ambitious to get to the top then you will already know it without any external factors. Sometimes circumstances will create opportunities for individuals to become the best at what they do. The emergence of new technologies based around telecommunications, wireless technology, artificial intelligence, information storage, biotechnology, genetic engineering and other nascent areas have opened up a plethora of avenues to be explored and utilized. Further developments will create further opportunities and industries beyond what is visible currently. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote, ‘every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.’
The ambitious will be those who are either desire to maximize what they have or achieve things that do not yet exist. In the ambitious there exists an amount of restlessness and when taken to an extreme level this can lead to extreme qualities.
Here I will list some qualities that high achievers have, and although they may cause alarm to some, these are many of the qualities that people who get to the top of their industries have.
• Highly status conscious
• Extremely hard working
• Aggression and anger
• Urgency and impatience
• Extremely competitive
• Strategically astute
• Never happy with the status quo
• They are willing to take risks
• They will do whatever it takes to win
I could go on for a while but I think that those points give a good indication of an ambitious person, and although those qualities listed above is not an exhaustive list you can begin to introspectively ascertain whether you have the necessary ambition to become the best.
There is no shame in admitting that you do not want to do whatever it takes to get to the top because the price is high, and many people including myself have paid a very high price to achieve what they have.
I’ll list a few of the things to think about here.
• You will make new enemies from people that want to compete with you
• Some friends will become envious if you begin to make more money and enjoy more success than they do, and some will even expect you to bankroll their lifestyle from your own success
• You may sacrifice time with family and loved ones
• Some people that you trusted will betray you
• Not everyone will be happy about your success and some will even try to downgrade your achievements
There are many other factors that you must be tough enough to endure otherwise this path may not be for you.
In an earlier message I mentioned about the option of creating your own path, and this way will appeal to those that would prefer to create rather than compete. This is also a tough road because there is not usually much to validate whether your idea works apart from responses in the market, cash in the bank and your own vision and passion. However, once a new market is forced open then the bigger companies follow like hounds in search of foxes, and they will typically acquire the smaller innovative companies or open a department that does the same thing with more resources behind it to gain a foothold in their new market.
This also brings to mind another very important point that was addressed by the Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen in his book, ‘The Innovators Dilemma’ and in that work he points out that the companies that lead their fields are often displaced by new industries and technologies then their industries or companies often becomes redundant unless they adapt. However when an organization gets to a certain size its ability to change rapidly is compromised by its previous success as it becomes more conservative in its approach and methodology.
So to get to the top of your industry now is possible, but you must realise that in a few years your industry might not exist in the same way. When I was in school there was no such thing as a website, and a few years ago there was no such thing as a smartphone, and we can add countless amounts of other innovations.
The ancient philosophers of the Nile Valley civilizations understood this point before anyone else, and it still holds today that everything changes and nothing ever stays the same for any period of time. The leaders today are often the losers of tomorrow and vice versa. So that is an important thing that ambition will do for you. You will never lose that drive and what the business author Jim Collins calls productive paranoia.
At this stage you should have a good idea of whether you are ambitious enough to get to the top, and by honestly looking at your current circumstances that will provide an indication of your beliefs.
The truth is that the answers must come within you, even if the objects of desire are things that exist outside of you. I may not able to prove this empirically, but I do believe that you already know if you have what it takes to get to the top already.
My next post will be the last one in this series and will provide the final piece of the puzzle.
If you have any questions about anything then you can participate below or visit www.anisometric-inc.com/consultancy for more specific information.