I met up with a friend for lunch recently. He wanted to catch up on the happenings in our lives since we hadn’t seen each other in awhile. At some point, the conversation switched to work life. I talked about my observations at my job and the ideas I have for the things I want to do to improve the HR Department and the organization.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s … that’s really ambitious.” And he kind of chuckled, too.
I bristled, uncertain of what was a compliment or general sarcasm or something else. I chose not to ask.
Ambitious is a word I’ve heard a lot to describe me and the things I do. Especially here lately. And it strikes me every time … Perhaps it’s because ambitious usually has a negative connotation. It’s a word we use to describe someone whose thoughts or goals are bigger than we think they should be. It’s a word we use to describe someone who is doing something different or against the traditions we are accustomed to and comfortable with. It’s a word we use to describe someone who is looking to succeed outside expected, typical boundaries.
It’s a word we use to quash a person’s drive and make them doubt their aspirations, dreams and goals. It’s a bad word.
But it shouldn’t be! The actual definition of the ambitious is to have or show a strong desire and determination to succeed. Some of the synonyms for ambitious are determined, committed, enthusiastic and purposeful … These are all GREAT things! So being ambitious should be seen as a great thing – not a snarky put-down.
And if anyone should have ambitiousness, it should be HR … We should be determined, committed, enthusiastic and purposeful about making our organizations more efficient and effective places. We should have and show a strong desire to succeed at improving the HR profession and all the functions within it so that we can add real, tangible value.
So I’m not going to bristle up at being called “ambitious” anymore. I’m not going to assume that it means something’s wrong with me. I’m not going to think the person who calls me that is trying to put me down because of my age or gender or race. I’m not going to flinch.
I will accept it as a compliment. I will embrace it as truth.
Because I am ambitious.
I have strong desire and determination to succeed at everything I do. I am committed and enthusiastic about that. And I surround myself with people who support and encourage me in my endeavors. Many are also ambitious HR professionals who want to succeed and bring change and positive perspectives. This fuels me – and it constantly reminds me that I’m not alone in wanting to make the reputation of the HR profession and function the best that it can be.
Ambition Should Be Embraced, Not Hidden
So if you are committed, determined, enthusiastic and purposeful about the work you do, celebrate it! It’s a great thing. Embrace being ambitious.