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    What is the right balance of ambition and patience?

    When we first enter the ‘real world’ and live and work as ‘adults’, like when we take the first steps onto the career ladder, our passion is almost palpable. It comes from a combination of naivety, audacity, and most of all, ambition. However, reality sets in over time, and our passions fade, but some extraordinary few never lose the fire. Many of those become visionaries and entrepreneurs who inspire and excite those around them. What happens to the rest? What becomes of the vast majority of idealists who leave college or university, or start a new goal ready to take on the world? Many simply burn out. Their passion consumes them like a star consuming itself. Others collapse under their own weight.

    Why is that?

    What happens to all that passion?

    I believe the answer lies in a failure to find balance in life – a failure to balance ambition and patience. The problem is that most of us fail to recognize how powerful ambition is. Ambition is the fuel that drives us. It can also make us impatient, and impatience can blind us to the opportunities and challenges we confront.

    Long-term success requires a strong foundation. Most of us start our careers or goals with basic foundation components –our gifts and talents, our education, and our experiences. How do we improve what we have while developing and acquiring what we lack? Experience! Through trial and error, we learn the lessons that establish and solidify our foundation. Failure to learn these lessons early in our careers can have devastating implications later. Mistakes we make at age twenty-five teach important lessons. At forty, the same mistakes end careers.

    What can we, as goal seekers, do to help create balance?

    How can we feed and nurture ambition through patient and deliberate development?

    Invest time and energy to understand what motivates us. This seems obvious, but one of the most common stumbling blocks is our failure to understand our own unique needs and ambitions. This understanding also gives us the ability to identify our strengths and weakness. This in turn enables us to provide the growth opportunities and experiences that will serve our growth, and in turn success, best.

    Be honest about what it will take for you to make real progress. An honest assessment of the opportunities gives you the ability to make informed decisions. That will help you build belief to trust your own ability and keep you engaged.

    Find out what motivates and inspires you. Many people entering a new project or phase in their life are still searching for what motivates and inspires them. At these times you have the opportunity to leverage passion and expose enthusiasm. Create opportunities for yourself and try out different skills. Find out what you like and what you don’t.

    Encourage your own learning by rewarding risk taking and appreciating the lessons in failure. The challenge lies in identifying the lessons rather than focusing on the failure. Develop your reward system to ensure it is motivating to you and that you aren’t punishing failures rather than encouraging risk taking and learning.

    Create your own legends. Every profession has a wunderkind – the person whose meteoric career becomes the goal for others. Most legends are a combination of fact and fiction. Fact, Sergey Brin and Larry Page dropped out of college, founded Google, and became billionaires. Fiction, dropping out of college is a proven path to career success. For every superstar countless others failed. Be sure to find out the reality about your legends and how they may have followed a more traditional path to success.

    • Make mentoring a key part of your development plan. One of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment to yourself is by investing your time and attention. Mentoring is about asking for help and being ready to learn about the realities of challenge ahead. It also gives you a forum to express and explore your ideas.
    The worst thing we can do to diminish our own ambition is to put unnecessary time pressure on ourselves. We wouldn’t do it to someone else, and would tell them to take their time so at times of high creativity and ambition we must remember to apply this kindness to ourselves. Personally, I am always looking for ways to rekindle my own passion. Part of the way I do that is by working with clients. Their passion and ambition can be contagious and energising. My challenge is to help them temper this ambition with a healthy dose of patience. Striking the right balance is the best path to realising their potential, and in so doing, realise my own.

    If you want help with working towards your goals or finding the balance between ambition and patience get in touch at

    Happy balancing!


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