What’s your definition of ambitious woman? Since I wrote the book, Ambition Redefined, it’s a question I ask women wherever I go. Most recently I posed the question to a group of women during my presentation at Hayvn, a wonderful new co-working space in Darien, CT.
Here’s a sampling of what I heard:
- An ambitious woman is someone who is not afraid to go after her goals—in her career or personal life. If she wants something, she will create a plan to achieve it.
- An ambitious woman is self made…and she wants to be a leader, to have integrity and be independent.
- An ambitious woman is not afraid of change and venturing out to the unknown. She will go after her goals persistently until she reaches them and be willing to go against the status quo.
- An ambitious woman is someone who feels committed to and “right” with herself and is guided by her experiences not only in her business life—but her personal life as well.
- An ambitious woman pursues work that she feels passionate about and is both fulfilling and rewarding.
- An ambitious woman wants to constantly evolve and challenge herself to be consistently relevant in the community and the workplace.
- An ambitious woman continually finds ways to grow and contribute in a meaningful way—and be recognized and well compensated for her efforts.
- An ambitious woman knows what she personally wants and will do what it takes to reach her own goals.
- An ambitious woman has passion and a goal—toward anything she finds meaningful.
But, wait! Where’s that part about ambition being tied only to women who are looking to break the glass ceiling and get to the C-Suite—or launch a major entrepreneurial venture that can be exponentially scaled and sold? As I write in my book, that’s a misperception fueled by the power elite who often give everyday women the impression that they’re letting down the sisterhood unless they’re hard driving to the top.
Interestingly, I heard one less flattering description of an ambitious woman that did follow that more narrow path. This women said that when she pictures an ambitious woman it’s one who steps on other people to get to the top, knows how to play politics, is not supportive of other women and is very self-centered. While there are certainly women who fit this description (and more than a few men!), it’s refreshing to know that ambition is now seen through a wider and diverse lens. “Ambition” doesn’t need to have a bad rap—especially when it encompasses women who set their own goals and create their own brands of ambition and success.
After my presentation one of the women sent me a quote by Bill Wilson: “True ambition is the desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God”. This quote leaves lots of room for your own interpretation as you blend work and life.
Before you leave this page, though…I’d love to know: what’s your definition of an ambitious woman?