Why Ambition Should Never be a Dirty Word



It never quite feels ‘polite’ does it. Those kinds of conversations where women talk about career, achievements, business success or money. Generationally ingrained - the idea that girls should be seen and not heard, are built to be caregivers or submissive ‘support’ roles in work and business and to be ‘happy with our lot’.


Well, if you are reading this then you know as well as we do that it’s all just utter nonsense and nothing but a story created for women over hundreds of years of legacy conditioning. It doesn’t stick in the 21st Century, thankfully and whilst we are seeing women taking hold across all industries, breaking glass ceilings, moulds and not so much sitting at the patriarchal table, but actually, smashing it to bits with a clawhammer and setting the room on fire.


So why then, do we still find it hard to have honest, non-judgmental conversations around wanting more for ourselves?


Is it wrong to want to win in life, career or business? Ambition has always been seen as a bit of an opaque word, and often used in less than complimentary terms. The description of an ‘ambitious woman’ conjures up images of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty or Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada. You know the *type*, huh?


What type? What image? Whilst I’m not sure about people going around specifically stating that they are ‘fiercely ambitious’ as a character trait (a bit like stating you are vegan or your marathon PB’s in social media bios) - there are things you don’t need to state constantly, but it’s perfectly fine to just ‘be’, right?


Ambition is having or showing a strong desire to succeed. It’s completely natural, and has nothing to do with ‘clawing your way’ or being arrogant. We are competitive creatures, we *aspire* in most things we do – to be better, stronger, fitter, more knowledgeable, profitable, richer.


Having any of these things is positive – having more money means you can create a bigger impact in the world. Fitter or stronger means more energy and better health, knowledge will always be power and a promotion at works means you get to influence further. All of this applies obviously if you are an altruistic person in the first instance, and whilst some people simply are born selfish, most of us really are not.


There is absolutely zero shame in being ambitious, and to know this or to state this should cause no discomfort for the modern woman. Having children, less money or less formal education does not make a woman any less ambitious historically, but experience often does.


We start full of life, on the first career rung, fresh out of school or our parents' houses – and then? Well, life happens. Covid happens, maternity leave happens, routines are disrupted or people less approachable than ourselves do their darnedest to pop us back into our boxes – always a reflection of themselves, not you – but it’s hard, it’s hard to find that ambitious girl you were, minus the labels or bad experiences with horrible bosses.


Be aware of how you might be shutting down your ambitious voice unconsciously. Lean into it and really consider what your ambition is and what it means for you. Not everyone wants to be VP of a multi-national or an Olympic athlete. Whatever your ambitions are, we mustn't be apologetic about them, instead owning them as ours and ours alone.


Accepting ourselves as ambitious and encouraging other women with theirs. It helps to have a handle on what it is you really want for yourself in life and career and plan towards achieving just that, celebrating the milestones and victories. Imagine yourself being at the peak of that mountain you wanted to climb, and how that will feel when you get there. Think about the journey and the good you have created for yourself and others along the way. When you consider ambition like that, how can it ever be a dirty word?