Here’s a secret that successful people won’t tell you:
What sets apart those who merely dream from those who achieve great things is a spark – a relentless drive to fuel them to take the road less traveled. They have ambition.
The thing is, ambition isn’t always conspicuous. It flickers quietly. It shows subtle signs that someone is willing to go the extra mile to turn their dreams into reality.
You may have felt this spark, or perhaps there have been moments where you’ve felt someone lit a fire under you. That’s called your inner drive.
This article illuminates 11 telltale signs that indicate that you’re more ambitious and driven than you or others might think.
I can only hope that by the end of it, you’ll see yourself in a new, more ambitious light.
1) You Feel a Fire Inside You
That intense burning sensation you feel within you isn’t mere motivation.
It’s not just a fleeting feeling; it’s a consistent drive that compels you to strive for more, pushing you beyond mediocrity. It’s a sign of ambition.
Your inner fire is what drives you to make your mark and bring about change, no matter how grand or miniscule.
Feeling the fire is one thing, acting on it is another.
Ambition requires action. You can’t just be a dreamer, because if you were, then you can easily call everyone else ambitious.
You shouldn’t just be dreaming; you should be doing. You need to put in the work and time to make those dreams a reality. Channel your inner fire and convert it into tangible results.
2) You Do More Than Bare Minimum
You’re not someone who settles for the bare minimum. You go above and beyond what’s expected of you.
If anything, you’re not a box checker; you’re someone who wants to draw new boxes on your to-do list and tick those, too.
You see – ambition often comes with a burning desire to go the extra mile. You’re not satisfied with “good enough.” You aspire for greatness.
However, it’s not just about working harder. You also need to work smarter.
You know that spending countless hours of heads down grinding won’t get you far if you’re not doing intentional work.
Don’t forget to remind yourself that it’s okay to fail sometimes – what matters is that you tried and gave it your all.
3) You Test Your Limits
When it comes to ambition, keep in mind that comfort zones become a thing of the past.
There’s no growth in comfort. You should embrace – not shy away – from challenges as these are stepping stones to your success.
Take each setback as an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to improve. You might even surprise yourself when you find out what you’re capable of.
This trait reminds me of me, as well as all the other amazing writers I’ve met throughout my career.
We’re serious about our craft. We don’t settle for writing generic articles. Instead, we chase footnotes, research extensively, and take extra courses to improve our skills. We strive to outdo ourselves with each piece of content.
I think it’s safe to say that our ambition isn’t just to be a writer; we want to be great writers who leave indelible marks with our words.
4) You Have the Lifelong Learner Mindset
When you’re an ambitious individual, you believe that knowledge is power – that learning doesn’t stop at university. You have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
This means that you’re not just open to learning; you’re not a passive learner. You actively seek out opportunities where you can learn more, experiment more, and create more. You find ways to apply the information you learn.
A lifelong learner mindset reflects a growth-oriented mentality. You remind yourself that there’s always something you don’t know.
You view these knowledge gaps as opportunities to grow.
Having said that, there are various ways to explore different subjects, such as attending seminars, reading books, talking to experts, or perhaps, going back to school to get another degree.
5) Your Only Competition Is Yourself
Another clear sign of ambition is when you’re not interested in competing with others.
The only person you need to surpass is the person you were yesterday (or even the person you were last year).
You’re not threatened by others’ success; rather, it motivates you to do better and focus on your self-improvement. Comparing yourself with others is futile.
One way to nurture this trait is by celebrating your victories, which include fulfilling your childhood dreams and accomplishing small wins. You never say anything self-deprecating.
In other words, whenever you acknowledge your failures, you try to find the silver lining – may that be experience, a newfound connection, or something new you learned about yourself. Failure isn’t a dead-end — it’s just a detour.
6) You’re a Calculated Risk Taker
Great success doesn’t come from playing it safe. You need to take risks, in some form, but in a calculated manner. Don’t be reckless. This means weighing the pros and cons, assessing the potential outcomes, then making your move.
Remember that you’re not just dreaming big, and you put yourself on the line to achieve great things — progress to you often means stepping into the unknown.
You don’t just take the leap blindly; you leap with vision and with faith in yourself.
Just look at all the successful entrepreneurs in the world like Steve Jobs, a college dropout who, despite numerous and well-documented failures, kept going in the hopes to revolutionize technology.
Despite all odds stacked against him, he went on to build Apple from the ground up and continues to be a legend that has changed the lives of millions.
7) You Enjoy Networking and Making Connections
As the quote goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
As an ambitious person, you understand the power of connections and thus actively seek to network with individuals across different fields.
You don’t work in isolation, but you also don’t just want to keep adding new people to your contact list.
You genuinely want to build meaningful relationships and strong communities.
Networking isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s not just taking, it’s also about giving. You offer support, expertise, and a unique set of experiences.
You want to foster a sense of camaraderie among people that want to support, learn, and grow with each other. This ability to make connections is a mark of your ambition and drive.
8) You Understand That Environment Dictates Performance
You’re mindful of the environment in which you operate in.
This includes the physical space you work in, the people you interact with, and the culture you’re a part of.
For instance, if you find yourself in a toxic work environment, you know that you wouldn’t be motivated to do your best work and it might hamper your ambition.
On the contrary, if you’re in a positive, supportive, and growth-oriented workspace, you’ll be easily inspired to create high-quality outputs that support the company’s goals.
You may even consider doing tasks that are beyond your job description.
9) You Surround Yourself With Other Ambitious Minds
You know what they say: You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Hence, if you surround yourself with ambitious individuals – humans who plan in decades but live in moments – you’ll feel assured that you have a support system that challenges you in a healthy way.
Put another way, as these people share their stories, you get to learn from their experiences, successes, and failures.
As I write this, I’m now reflecting on the journey of my friend Rolan, an accomplished entrepreneur. I noticed that he never fails to highlight the importance of being around high-energy, passionate individuals at your own company. He only hires enthusiastic people.
This makes sense because, in turn, they get to form a network of ambition that propels both their company’s growth and each team member’s professional development.
10) You Set High Standards for Yourself
Setting high standards is another distinctive characteristic of ambitious people like you.
These standards aren’t arbitrary. In fact, these are intricately linked with your goals, values, and pursuit of excellence.
As mentioned, ambition entails setting high standards for yourself, not to outdo others, but to consistently outdo yourself. You’re your own worst critic, as well as your most ardent cheerleader.
There’s a fine line between excellence and perfection.
When you strive for the latter, you’ll keep chasing this abstract, unattainable, and elusive idea that would only leave you bogged down and hopeless.
However, if you have excellence as your North Star, all that matters is that you tried. Making the effort is half the battle.
11) You Keep Trying
Speaking of trying, another fundamental trait of ambition is persistence, the tenacity to keep moving forward.
It’s about dusting yourself off after each failure and trying again, but this time, with more experience, a more refined strategy, and a renewed sense of motivation to achieve your goal.
As cheesy as it may sound, failure is a redirection, and persistence is the fuel that drives your ambition.
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