Think about how you define the term ambition. You may believe that people either have it or they don't, and there is no middle ground. Many assume that if a woman wants a "man's job," then she must also aspire to be president of the company, or president of a larger company, or chairman of the board. If you have no desire to lead the company, or even lead the division, you may decide you are a regular woman and accept the corresponding pay. You may believe that at some future point you will have the necessary ambition, but that right now you should accept the lot of a regular woman.

Ambition, of course, is not an either-or concept. The majority of working men do not aspire to be president of the company for which they work, yet they expect to earn enough to support themselves. They do not worry about unbridled ambition ruining their lives. They know that business is not a conveyor belt that they get on and cannot control. People are not promoted against their will.

There are dangers to placing too much emphasis on ambition, or the lack of it. The issue of ambition may cloud your evaluation of a specific job opportunity. You may look at other people and decide what their level of ambition is, but you may be completely wrong. You may be wrong about your own ambition level, or you may be unsure of it. This uncertainty may seem to be an important obstacle to overcome. You may decide that a particular ambition level is necessary for a specific job, when other things are actually much more important.

You may not want to be ambitious. You might think it is unfeminine or unattractive to have ambition. You may be uncomfortable even talking about money and feel it is selfish and greedy to want to earn a lot. You may think it is somehow more noble to work hard for little pay than to work hard for a lot of pay. Maybe you don't see yourself as competitive, but you believe a competitive nature is important to ambition. Little girls are rarely encouraged or rewarded for being ambitious, and we do not feel good about it as women.

Try to put these bad feelings out of your mind. There is nothing inherently wrong with ambition. Everyone has some of it. Without it, you wouldn't be motivated to get out of bed in the morning. Don't worry about how much ambition you have. Ambition is a vague concept, defined by different people in various ways. You work for many reasons, and one of them is money. You could spend days analyzing your level of ambition (and some would have you do just that) and not be any closer to a higher paycheck. Spend your time instead on the other concepts presented in this publication, and try to forget about ambition. False perceptions and feeling bad about it can get in your way. And remember that the great majority of men around you are not giving their ambition a single thought.


Table of Contents | Next page