You'd think I'd thrown a stink-bomb into the group. Some awkward silence, one high-five, and this senior, self-proclaimed 'leader' says "You aren't ambitious. That's too bad. You should get some ambition."
So 'leader' means 'makes more money than the non-leaders' and 'ambition' means 'wants to make more money'. To have ambition means I will be a leader, and to be a leader I need to be ambitious.
Not sure about you, but this word 'leader' has become a characteristic attributed to people because of rank. To me, to be a leader is a quality - a great quality - that not just anyone has. I actually take offense when people defer to a 'leader' because of their rank. It makes me laugh often, because what is a leader? You have to search long and hard on the Internet to find a definition that does not start with "A person or thing that holds a dominant or superior position within its field, and is able to exercise a high degree of control or influence" (businessdictionary, Websters dictionary, and so on). Eventually you'll find one that talks to a person's influence to get people excited, to get people together and working toward a goal, inspiring people to work harder on whatever is important to them at that time.
But that leader who doesn't have a superior position, who doesn't have 'control'...this leader doesn't have ambition, according to this senior person and many articles I have read in the last few years. This leader is soft, isn't aiming up and ensuring that those around him/her are working toward the goal of making money, doing what they're told, being controlled.
This type of leader is helping people find their own goals, which in the end will work to benefit more broadly the world around these people, and inspiring people - not controlling people - to work toward a common goal. This isn't to say this leader doesn't wish to move up in their world, but this isn't what drives them. An honest leader that is driven to make things better, to help other people help themselves thereby helping the 'company' or their own environment -
YIKES WHAT THE HECK? Jen, are you crazy??
Yeah, in this day and age, we need to support our families/cats/friends/selves, we need to eat healthy and exercise and all that takes ambition. In this day and age, we're tired, we pay high taxes and the news is all negative and frustrating and sometimes my Internet service provider sucks.
So in this day and age, what we need is leadership! We need politicians and senior controllers who allow us to make money and give us opporunities to move up and give us portable computers, and - and allow us to get more tired, and lose time from our families, often become isolated, stressed, lose confidence and self-esteem. But boy-oh-boy, I have to show that leader that I am ambitious!!
Okay. I buy that. I'm tired, and overworked and I held a quiet celebration when my office cellphone gave up the ghost this morning, fighting the urge to do a jig while I stared at its blank black screen (I lost the fight, for the record, but it was less a jig and more a weird try-not-to-land-on-the-cats'-tail kinda near-accident). I've been ambitious. I've been ambitous to make my family proud, to be happy and to be comfortable, while trying to find a balance....totally unbalanced.....confidence shuts down, fear and stress take over, self-esteem drops, exhaustion....but I'm moving up the ladder...I'm a leader....I'm going to burn out before I'm 40 years old.
In talking to my dad during those burnout weeks, when I'd just call home and listen to my mom or dad breathe while I sat in silence, he said something so wise...."Jen, I had to work in that mine and make money so that I could feed my family. You don't need to prove anything. Don't work for the money, it isn't worth it." I knew that. But trying to reconcile that truth with the need to be ambitious....it doesn't work!
Until I snapped to it. That realization that ambition does not equal money. Money does not make me 'ambitous', 'successful' or - GASP - a leader.
My parents are leaders.
WHAT? you ask? Carter, you just said that ambition and money and leadership....gah! confused...okay, explain.
My parents showed me early in life and again when I needed it most, that what is important is (no specific order) 1. baseball (they'd deny this, but it's true) 2. family 3. education (not necessarily formal education, to be clear) 4. humour 5. country music (mom would deny this, but it's true), and if you have all of that, you are a success. Whether you are at the top of the skyscraper or 4000 feet underground.
And if you are a success, holy smokes, guess what?! You are ambitious! You were ambitious to be successful! And when you're successful, you know what comes next?
You inspire other people to become successful.
And THAT, my 3 readers, is how you become a leader.
NOT by being at the top of the skyscraper. That's how you become a boss. That's how you get more and more money. And if that is what makes you happy and successful, then yes, your ambition paid off. And if you are genuinely happy, you can inspire others to be their best, to succeed in their way. And then you are, also, a leader.
Not just because you tell the minions that you're a leader. That just makes you a braggart and kind of a jackass. People may follow you - out of fear, want of money and status - but this will not in itself make you or them better people, harder workers, more proud people, more confidence people.
After this 'leader' told me about my lack of ambition for not wanting to move up the corporate ladder and maybe not being too concerned with salary and status, I replied again. My reply was this: "When I tell a random casual colleague that I'm into coaching, and their reply is "Oh! You're so good at that kind of thing!" THAT makes me ambitious. Ambitious to be the best coach I can be, to inspire other people to be their best. That makes me better too. I'm just differently ambitious."
Tonight I'm going to hug my cats and read a book and laugh my way to sleep. Cheers.