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The 6 Internal Motivations of Pure, Unadulterated Ambition Blend the desire to succeed with the fear of failing and you'll have what you need to achieve any goal you set.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Ambition is that ignitable energy within you waiting to be touched upon and utilized. I have always experienced ambition as a fuel. All I have to do is gently touch upon it and a Ferrari of passion, desire, drive and conviction within me are ready to go at full speed. Ambition is the strong desire to be, have, do and experience something greater in your life. I believe it to be the most important tool for achieving success, as it overrides both talent and resources. Ambition, can lead anyone to triumph, regardless of what is put in front of them. Having a dream, coupled with the will, courage and ambition to be on top of the world, will get you further in life than you can imagine. To follow are some of the internal motivators which drive ambition.

1. Passion.

Success of all types begins with passion. Passion originates from the simple love of doing something, whereas ambition drives your passion towards the destinations you aspire to reach. Ambition transforms your passion from a thought to a thing. It moves your passion from your heart and transmutes it into the determination to follow through on the actions which must be taken to produce the results you are aiming for. The stronger your passion for something, the more intense your ambition. You must, with tremendous conviction, love what you do. With deep passion backed by ambition, the impossible becomes possible.

"Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures" Joseph Campbell

2. Caring.

The secret to living, is giving. Life should not be about "me," it should about making a better "we." A well-lived life functions on a foundation of caring. Caring is what brings you the deeper meaning and satisfaction you seek. True success is marked by what you contribute to the world. When you deeply care about what you're doing that caring energy ignites your ambition. You take great care to be sure that what you are promoting will leave a positive impact in the lives of others. When you care, you are naturally ambitious about the bigger picture. When you see the impact you can have, when you see the results of your passion benefitting others it will touch you personally, only serving to fuel your ambition to do more and give more.

"There is no greater reward than working from your heart, and making a difference in the world." Carlos Santana

Related: Curiosity Is the Key to Discovering Your Next Breakthrough Idea

3. Purpose.

Having a defined purpose gives you the ambition you need to make the necessary sacrifices to live the life you dream of. Your purpose is your compass. It is what guides your every thought, deed and action. Having a purpose gives you direction, and helps you to correctly control and channel your ambition. As you begin to experience the joy of sculpting and achieving your bigger picture, you start to feel inspired by the determined, passionate, and impactful person you are becoming. The emotions of fulfillment and excitement around your purpose make it impossible for you to surmise any reason to quit, or to not believe in who you are and what you stand for. Your ambition transforms your purpose into an active, growing and living personal legend.

"You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously." Steve Maraboli

4. Success.

The pure desire to be successful is a huge motivator for ambition. You want to be successful, to feel successful and to be seen as successful. Rewards are important. This includes the perks, privileges and honors that success provides you. Imagine your life as an obstacle course, and that successfully navigating it is equivalent to achieving success. If at the starting point you do not have the mindset to triumph, you will not give it your best and will waver when things get hard or confusing. When your desire for success is strong you will have the ambition necessary to be victorious. You will do whatever it takes to overcome your doubts and perceived limits. Ambition leads to resourcefulness where you will find other ways to succeed in place of quitting.

"When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." Anonymous

Related: The 10 Traits You Must Cultivate to Achieve Highly Ambitious Goals

5. Fear.

The deep need for achievement, backed with anticipatory fear, sparks the ambition necessary to dedicate your life to hard work, to perfecting your craft, to sleepless nights and to sacrificing for the sake of having the life you wish to live. Because you want to achieve, you are motivated towards hard work and peak performance. To accomplish your long term goals you must want to be successful as much as you want to breathe. You must be willing to outrun and outlast fears of failure. The purity of your conviction to succeed can only take you as far as the changes you are willing to make in your life each day. There are no short cuts, and it is only your ambition that will get you beyond your fears into living the experiences you want. Put it all on the line, never allowing any moment of inspiration to go unnoticed. It is these moments you must maximize to make sure your time is dedicated to getting you closer and closer to your dream.

"To escape fear you have to go through it, not around." Richie Norton

6. Revenge.

People want you to fail because that is human nature. People will not gloat about your success, but will happily gloat about your failure. It's just a fact of life. When you have naysayers attempting to bring you down by cutting you down there are two ways respond: One is to shrink and fear that maybe you will fail; the second is to grab hold of your ambition and make sure you succeed because of the naysayers. The greatest gift you give these doubtful, critical, envious and negative people is your success and happiness. Use their negative noise to fuel your ambition, keeping you committed and on course. When you start having short term wins, you start validating why you're here, and you come to see that success is the best revenge. There is no need to have "words" with naysayers, simply prove them wrong.

"The best revenge is massive success." Frank Sinatra

Related: Talk About Ambition: One Girl Scout Sold 18,000 Boxes of Cookies

In this life, never settle for average. Be elite. There will be highs and lows but this is what you signed up for by aligning yourself with your ambition. Within the journey are your lessons, your personal development, your suffering, your joy, and your brilliant success. Your ambition will teach you that your struggles, your hustle, and your battles are blessings. Ultimate success in life comes not from something external, but from something deeply internal. It comes from a sense of esteem you hold about yourself, which is not something you can ever get from someone else. You must use what drives your ambition to continue to grow and push yourself, to do more and give more than is comfortable or you even thought possible. The wealthiest person on earth is the person who appreciates, who makes a difference in the lives of others, who is grateful, and who is driven to have an impact.

"Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and the reason for our existence." ~ Steven Pressfield

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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