How to achieve your ambitions

AUTHOR Q&A: Rachel Bridge on keeping your eyes on the prize.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2016

Why is ambition sometimes seen as a dirty word?

I blame the 1980s when larger-than-life fictional characters such as JR Ewing, Alexis Carrington and Gordon Gekko made ambition a shorthand word for greed and selfishness and the determination to win at all costs. It’s a shame because in reality ambition is simply the desire to make the most of your potential in order to achieve something special, and that could be something which benefits others rather than yourself. It’s time we started celebrating it. 

Can you give three tips to supercharge motivation?

1. Create a shortcut. Find a special quotation or piece of music that inspires you, or a picture of what you are trying to achieve, so you can tap into your motivation whenever you want.

2. Find a friend who is trying to achieve a goal too. It doesn’t have to be the same goal; the important thing is to have someone to share the experience with, who will really understand that sense of achievement in reaching each milestone. Having a bit of competition can be motivating too.

3. Get the right kit. There is nothing more demotivating than trying to make a cake without the right baking equipment, or trying to climb a mountain in old broken down shoes. Equip yourself with the appropriate kit for the goal you are trying to achieve. 

You were enterprise editor at The Sunday Times. Who's the most ambitious business leader you've met?

A strong contender would be Paul Lindley, who founded Ella’s Kitchen to make healthy food for babies and toddlers. He also happens to be one of the most likeable business leaders too. He gave up a secure well-paid job to start Ella’s Kitchen, even though he had never run a business before and had no experience of the food industry. It was a big success and when he sold it eight years later for £66.2m, he immediately started two new ventures – a bath products business Paddy’s Bathroom and a social enterprise called The Key is E. 

Ambition is great, but how do you know when to give up?

That is an important question because not everyone will succeed at their goals. Be realistic about the goal you are trying to achieve - we can't all be Premier League footballers. And be flexible enough to spot alternative opportunities as they arise - that unexpected job offer may turn out to be even better than the promotion you desperately wanted. Finally, make sure you enjoy the journey, so that even if you don't reach the end point you still have a lot of fun along the way.

Ambition: Why it’s Good to Want More and How to Get It by Rachel Bridge is published by Capstone, £10.99

Rachel Bridge is an author, journalist and public speaker specialising in personal development, smart thinking and entrepreneurship. Follow her on Twitter: @rachelbridge100

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