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How Your Negative Mindset About Ambition Holds You Back

Don’t let your own mind put a block on our success and happiness. Here are some tips to help reprogram your mind.

A few years ago I had an epiphany.

It all started when my colleague was promoted over me.

I was about 35 at the time, and had never considered myself to be particularly ambitious, but this was a wakeup call in many ways.

Let me first start by explaining my lack of ambition.

It’s not so much that I didn’t want to accomplish anything, it’s just, given the mostly male industry I worked in (I work in IT, for a large global financial institution), I had always looked upon ambition and being promoted to be only for “winners”.

But that wasn’t the problem.

The problem was how I defined “winning”. 

My mindset around winning went more or less like this:

To be promoted you must be a winner. 

For there to be a winner there must be a loser. 

Therefore, to be promoted, you are directly denying someone else that opportunity, you are taking it away from someone who might want it or deserve it more.

In other words, I felt that to be promoted to the next level I had to “step” on someone to get there.

This was a mindset that held me back for many years. It was ugly, negative, and completely untrue.

Luckily for me, my colleague, who I have great respect for and still like to this day, was promoted.

It opened my eyes.

I realised that if he could get promoted, doing the same job as me, having the same amount of experience, with more or less the same skill set, then so could I.

But I still felt awkward, I felt that by being promoted, I was denying someone else the same opportunity. 

It took a long time of working on my own mindset for me to realise the truth.

We are all responsible for our own lives and what we do with it.  We drive our own fate.

Yes, perhaps a rich kid who went to a prestigious university has more opportunities than I do, and so advances faster in life, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for me. It also doesn’t mean I am denied advancement in life. 

Sure, as a woman I have often had to work twice as hard as the men, and yes, that is unfair, but it also instilled in me a work ethic and a can do attitude.

I learned not to take no for an answer, to forget about the glass ceiling, and instead do what I want to do.  

I learned to really GO for things I wanted, to speak up and say YES I WANT IT. To ask for it, to work hard when someone then gives me that opportunity and to use it as a stepping stone for new, bigger and greater opportunities.

Just 5 short years ago it would never have occurred to me that I could be a team leader in a very fast paced, highly competitive and stressful industry, nevermind a global manager. 

Yet now I know that I can really do anything that I put my mind to, I don’t have to second guess myself, or doubt that I have what it takes.

I look back at what I have achieved and I am proud of myself. And I know I can do more.

All because someone else was promoted over me.

Here are some truths to help you reprogram your own negative mindset.

Winning

Just because you are promoted does not mean you are denying someone else the same opportunity.

Winning in your own life and career does NOT mean there is a loser.

You are NOT taking anything away from anyone.  There are many paths to success, your promotion is just one of those paths.

You can only be a loser if you allow yourself to become one. No-one can force it on you.

Opportunity

We are all given opportunities.

But what we do with those opportunities is what sets us apart from the crowd.

An opportunity is meaningless if you don’t step up to the challenge.

Opportunity means not waiting for the right moment, but instead taking an imperfect moment and doing something with it.

Mistakes

Perfection will hold you back. 

The best way to become good at anything is through doing that thing regularly, and learning from your mistakes as you go along. 

If you wait to become perfect before attempting something, you will be waiting until the day you die.

Don’t be afraid of admitting your mistakes.  Admitting your mistakes builds trust.  It also gives you an opportunity to learn how to fix something.  

Life is not fair

No matter how hard you try, you will always feel that there is one person that seems to have it easier than you and who seems to be moving forward, onwards and upwards faster than you.

Let it go. 

Ignore everyone else.

Focus on your own success, and be happy for yourself. 

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