The Positive Power of Ambition

Ambition is often viewed negatively. However, this doesn't have to be the case.
The Positive Power of Ambition
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 19 April, 2022

Many people confuse the meaning of the word ambition with something that’s bad or has negative connotations. In fact, our culture and society have educated us from childhood not to be ambitious, not to want more than necessary, and to focus on being ‘humble’.

The problem is that we’ve also been taught to confuse and associate humility with scarcity, poverty, or the absence of abundance.

Wikipedia defines ambition as something harmful. They claim it’s a negative, bad and perverse feeling that originates in our minds when we seek to want more. In addition, the article states that living and feeling this way harms others.

The problem with this definition and concept, which most of us have integrated at some point in our lives, is that it can be confused with greed.

“Ambition can creep as well as soar.”

-Edmund Burke-

For this reason, in this article, we invite you to reflect on and understand the true concept of ambition. By doing this, you’ll be able to stop it from continuing to limit you in your personal life, preventing you from achieving many of your goals and dreams.


Man holding a world globe showing his ambition

We’d like to make it clear that the concept and meaning of ambition isn’t the blind desire to obtain ends such as wealth or power, regardless of the means used to achieve them.

Nonetheless, it’s pretty common to think that an ambitious person will tread on others in order to achieve their goals, but this isn’t necessarily true. On the contrary, on many occasions, the desires, goals, and dreams of these people will be oriented to the benefit of other human beings.

“Ambition and love are the wings to great deeds.”

-Johann W. Goethe-

You should also be aware that ambition doesn’t involve the desire to grow indiscriminately, for no reason, or without meaning. In fact, it could be said that it’s the desire to seek protection, security, and well-being.

Ambition allows you, in this regard, to amplify these goals and achieve them on a larger scale. Therefore, it’s a good idea to stop confusing ambition with human flaws.

An ambitious person requires and needs a great cause to guide them through the huge barrier of adversity. Ambition allows them to overcome all kinds of obstacles, continue fighting for their cause, and achieve it. Can you imagine how this could be achieved without ambition?

An example

Couple with strong arms drawn symbolizing ambition

To understand what ambition really is, it’s worth learning about Mason Wartman. This young American always wanted to have his own pizzeria. He was an entrepreneur on Wall Street for a while and, motivated by ambition, he decided to take a risk and fulfill his personal dream.

He started off selling pizza slices for one dollar. Thanks to this affordable price, he could feed many desperately poor people.

One day, a client proposed a brilliant idea to him, which would later turn his business into his dream. It was the idea that clients could ‘pay it forward’ by buying a piece of pizza for someone who couldn’t afford it. The idea snowballed, and every time someone bought an extra piece, a Post-it note was stuck on the wall of the pizzeria, to be redeemed by those unable to afford to buy their own.


In the example above, you can see how ambition can create a wonderful project. It’s an engine that drives and motivates us to achieve our goals. Even in Buddhism, where humility is preached, they advocate healthy ambition in order to be a better person every day. Furthermore, they also state that humility isn’t related to a lack of wealth. The problem lies in our relationship with that wealth.

When ambition makes us step on others to succeed, that’s where the problems begin. In this case, we’d be talking about an insane and malicious kind. However, if it’s used for the benefit of others, we can feel happy because it means we’re on the right path. Indeed, it’ll lead us to improve day by day, favoring both ourselves and others.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.