What’s your Ambition?

May 07, 2021

Hey there. Happy Saturday to you! I had an issue with my email integration recently so some of these posts may not have come through. I’ve been writing about a framework I’ve been fortunate to leverage in my life and work and also help others implement. I call it the Intention Flywheel. It’s a five-step process that we all can leverage to continuously improve and put us in the best position to serve others in a meaningful way (whatever that is for you).

I wrote about the first two steps (you can click the links to read these posts) – Awareness & Agency. The third step in this process is Ambition.

Here’s what the dictionary says about ambition: “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”

Ambition is one of those things that is easy to talk about but it’s not so easy to execute. When I’m talking ambition, I’m talking about where you’re going. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to change from where you are today? It’s your North Star. We’ve already discussed where you are today (Awareness), now it’s about figuring out where you want to go. This is a key piece of the framework.

This should be an exciting piece of the flywheel. You need to explore this. You need to take a step back and really think about where you’re headed. Here’s a good filter: If you had a magic wand and all the stars aligned, what would your future state be?

For example, if you’re a salesperson who is struggling to make their quota consistently, what does a future state look like where you’re hitting this quota consistently. I’m not just talking about numbers. What does it feel like? What are you doing that’s making this happen? How many calls are you making? How many meetings are you getting? How many deals are you closing? What are your interactions with your customers and colleagues like? Think big here. And, if you’re thinking and writing about it, don’t judge your thoughts.

Another example – let’s say today you run a seven-minute mile and you want to improve that to six minutes. Step one is knowing that now that you’re a seven-minute pace, step two is saying ok, that’s cool, but I can get better and I’m going to own that process (that’s agency). Step three is establishing that your North Star or your ambition target is to run a six-minute mile. We’ll talk next about the work it’s going to take to get there. Right now, however, let’s settle on the fact that you’ve established the game. You simply want to improve from a seven-minute mile to a six-minute mile. The delta is one minute. That’s no joke. Percentage-wise we’re talking about a 15% reduction. But, you must first have that target in mind. Then, you can build your training plan to get there.

Another way to think about this is really about vision. Vision is seeing something in the future that’s different than today. It’s easy to be reactive all day and stuck on what you’re not doing. Or, how about this, you’re in survival mode trying to get through the day and thinking about the future stresses you out. There are a million reasons for not thinking about the future like this. And, let’s face it, sometimes the uncertainty of the future gives us anxiety, doesn’t it?

That’s okay. It’s normal. I want this process to give you some hope and not uncertainty.

I took a Seven Habits of Highly Effective People training a few years back. I’ve always been a fan of Stephen Covey’s work. It helped cultivate my desire to get better and learn about personal development when I first picked up in the 90’s.

The training I took a few years back had a video they shared where a guy is at his 80th birthday party. He’s a grandpa and his kids and grandkids are there. It’s about a two to three minute video and the older gentlemen is smiling the whole time. He’s ecstatic about being with his family and looking back on his life. The sun is shining through. It’s a cool scene.

The video stops and the trainer asks us about our 80th birthday party. Mind you, everyone in the room were in their 30’s and 40’s. He then instructed us to write about being at our very own 80th birthday party and what it was like. It was a powerful exercise and one I highly recommend. You should try it. If you do it, write it like you’re really there and what’s really happening. In that process, write about your life like it’s already happened. What did you accomplish? How did your life go? What would your son or daughter say about you if they were reading a letter they wrote at this birthday party? What would your husband or wife say? What about your colleagues? Your customers? Your friends?

A little call to action: Give yourself five or ten minutes and just write whatever comes to mind. You’re at your 80th birthday party. What’s going on and what are people saying about you? Don’t judge the writing, just get something down on paper or on your phone or computer device. You might be surprised and I trust you may be inspired by what you write.

Are you living this life now? If so, awesome. If not, that’s okay, that’s why you’re reading this and investing in getting better. Congrats – you’re making progress already just by going through this exercise.

Future state. That’s what this third step is about. What’s possible. And, much is possible when it comes to transforming and getting better.

We’ll cover steps four and five in coming weeks.

So, the process is AWARENESS, AGENCY, AMBITION, ACTION, ADJUSTMENT. Think of it like a flywheel as each step builds on the others and then it becomes a cycle you can always go back to.


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