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Why Some People Are More Ambitious Than Others

Why Some People Are More Ambitious Than Others

“On average, ambitious people attain higher levels of education and income, build more prestigious careers, and report higher overall levels of life satisfaction,” says Neel Burton, psychiatrist and author of “Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions.” “Many of man’s greatest achievements are the products, or accidents, of their ambition.”

So what is ambition and what causes someone to be ambitions?

Ambition Defined

In a recent study conducted by Judge and Kammeyer-Muller (2012), the meaning of ambition is explained.

The authors define ambition as “The persistent and generalized striving for success, attainment, and accomplishment.” They also note that ambition usually involves goal setting. It does, however differ from pure conscientiousness or the basic need to achieve. People who are only motivated to achieve tend to focus on developing skills and competence rather than pursuing material rewards. Ambition, however, is specifically concerned with obtaining money or prestige.

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Ambition can often be confused with aspirations, but it is important to see the difference between these two things. Aspirations involves striving towards a specific goal; whereas ambition is a trait. Ambition is behavior that manifests itself over an extended period of time. When someone is ambitious they continuously create new goals for themselves and pursue these goals with intent.

Society has adopted different attitudes towards ambition. As the authors note:

“Historically, some writers have viewed ambition as a good thing, because it seems to lead toward hard work and success. However, others have considered ambition a vice, because its over-emphasis on the pursuit of external wealth leads to inadequate emphasis on internal fulfillment and happiness.”

These ideas were tested in the study.

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The Findings of the Study

The authors used more than 60 years of data that was accumulated from the Terman life-cycles study. This data allowed them to see the positive aspects of ambitions.

They discovered various underlying factors that caused ambition, such as: “conscientiousness, extraversion, low neuroticism, general mental ability, as well as parents’  occupational prestige.”

The authors also revealed that ambitious people attained higher levels of education, landed more prestigious jobs, and received higher incomes than non-ambitions people. This was shown to led to a modest increase satisfaction with life and longevity.

Let us take a look at some more factors that cause someone to have an ambitious personality.

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Why Some People Are Ambitious

Birth Order

The youngest child in the family is often compared to his older more skilled and proficient siblings. This can have one of two effects: either the youngest child withdraws and deems himself incapable; or he becomes very ambitious. The competition he experiences early on, with his siblings, elicits a drive in him that makes him want to do better than everyone else who competes with him when he grows up.

Ego-Driven Ambition

If a person has a big ego and is also equipped with bravery, they are likely to be ambitious. Their bravery will allow them to pursue grand goals, and their ego will give them the belief that they deserve a better life. This combination will result in extreme ambition.

Insecurity and Ambition

If an individual is insecure, he can become very ambitions. Insecurity puts a person under extreme psychological pressure, which can lead him to do one of two things: either he becomes extremely ambitious in an effort to change his life and put an end to his insecurities; or he withdraws and opts out of life. Most billionaires grew up in poverty and this created extreme financial insecurities.

Tough Comparisons and Ambition

If an individual finds himself in a situation where he is forced to compete with his peer, he may become very ambitious. For example, if a man who is fairly poor surrounds himself with rich friends, he may acquire the need to become very rich himself and as a result, he is driven to ambition.

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The Desire to Be Worthy

The desire to prove to oneself that you are worthy can promote ambition. For example, some very successful people were adopted. An adopted child may want to prove to the world and to his biological parents that he is worthy, and this can lead to ambition.

Self Confidence

When an individual is confident in their abilities and they believe that they can reach their goals and get the things they want, they are likely to be ambitions.

The Desire to Prove Others Wrong

If an individual has experienced rejection, humiliation, and disapproval, they can be motivated to prove the people who made them feel these negative emotions wrong. An individual who has experienced many rejections may become ambitious to prove to these who rejected him that they were wrong.

Summation

Having healthy ambition is crucial: “People with a high degree of healthy ambition are those with the insight and strength to control the blind forces of ambition, shaping [it] so that it matches their interests and ideals,” says Burton. “They harness it so that it fires them without also burning them or those around them.”

So if you are someone who would consider themselves ambitious, make sure that you shape your ambition into something that has a positive impact on you and on others around you.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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