Ambition + Work-Ethic = Success

Ambition + Work-Ethic = Success

 Whatever your lifelong dream is, it IS possible to achieve it, no matter how remote that possibility seems. Think about it; if you could do or be anything in the world, what would it be? Some clients dream of being a singer, musician, film or television star, writer, or a professional athlete. Other clients have less lofty dreams, such as simply getting out of debt, retiring early, or owning their own business. How do I know you can live whatever dream you are longing to achieve? Because some clients do it every day!

“You can achieve whatever you want, as long as you are willing to pay the price.”

                                                                        —Elvin Semrad

Is it inborn talent, education, or just plain luck? What makes some people successful and others not so much? Is there a secret recipe that some discern and others don’t? Is it as simple as being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people? The answer to all of those questions is yes. All of those things are important factors in determining your level of success.

However, the two most important characteristics that ultimately determine success are a relentless abundance of ambition and an inflexible, almost irrational, work ethic.



Ambition is simply the strong desire to achieve a goal requiring determination and hard work. That’s all. The question isn’t what do you want; the question central to your success is how badly do you want it? This question requires an answer, because ambition has a price. Make sure it is a really good answer because the price sometimes times can be quite high.


Work Ethic

We all know about work ethic. If you have done anything worthwhile, you’ll know what hard work is. Your work ethic was developed during your early experiences with work, and while sometimes the growth went unnoticed, it was often transformational. There are a couple of questions worthy of consideration that highlight where your value system concerning work comes from. Were your efforts towards working hard successful? Were they satisfactorily compensated? Was laziness rewarded instead? Were you driven or indulged? Were you allowed to quit? Did you quit?


Keeping all of that in mind, the equation is simple:


Ambition + Work Ethic = Success


Ambition – Work Ethic= Magical Thinking

You hear people say they’re ambitious. Yet you look at their success, or lack of it, and wonder, “Are they really?” In today’s world, just wanting something is not nearly enough. Ambition is always linked to hard work where success is concerned. They are factors that simply cannot be separated. Putting in only a modicum amount of effort to achieve an acceptable result is behavior associated with lack of ambition. Successful people take little for granted. They inherently know that only hard work and dogmatic commitment to reaching their goals means often putting in extra hours or engaging in punishing mental and physical activities necessary in order to reach their goal.

We glamorize the visionary who fantasizes about what might be. But take a page out of Steve Jobs book; if you are not willing to work relentlessly hard to achieve what you want, you’re just a dreamer. Stay home and out of the way.


Hard work – Ambition = Soul Crushing Tread Mill

Unfortunately, most people initially fall into this category. They work hard, put in long hours, go the extra mile but continuously come up short. Ambition, as defined above, is the kind of focus that directs your hard work at your specific chosen target. We’ve all seen hamster wheels. The little fellow runs and runs, determined to reach an illusory destination, but the result of all of that energy and determination is just exhaustion, being in the exact spot all the time, accomplishing nothing. Does that about describe your work life?


Ambition + Work Ethic = Success

Sort through your interests and find one that is your passion. Make that passion your life’s duty to achieve. Remember, profoundly successful people cultivate ambitious habits.

•   Be goal oriented. Once you reach one goal or milestone, immediately set another. Always be striving. Do not, however, broadcast your goals. Be sure that they remain internally focused. Don’t fall into the trap of announcing your goals and feeling good about the announcement alone. That’s only words and they mean nothing compared to success.

•   Be unrelenting. Work to be laser focused and when you do get side-tracked (and we all do) focus, and regroup, recommitting to your path. Set backs are not failure; they are opportunities to grow and redefine your methods and directions. Always be discontent with mediocrity and shun self-satisfaction. Commit to the process you decide upon and always follow through.

•   For God’s sake, take risks. Chasing a dream is a perilous occupation. Ambition involves risks and includes a certain amount of failure. Own it. Allow the risk of failure to nurture courage as you take those deliberate leaps of faith. Believe in yourself and your goals.

•   Have faith in your ability. Do it particularly when no one else does. Be resolute and maintain confidence that you can accomplish your goal. Use your unique gifts and talents to your best advantage; you DO have gifts unique to you.

•   Remain positive. Success is as much a state of mind as a reality. Remain focused and continue to focus on your goal. Discipline your mind to remain optimistic in the face of disillusionment; failures and the drudgery that accompanies ambition are food for your goal.

•   Cultivate strategic thought. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Keep your eye on the ball and focus on what is important. Cultivate the ability to prioritize, the ability to conserve and expend the right amount of energy and effort; in short, the ability to be strategic about your ambitions. It is important. This technique reduces setbacks and wasted time. Being strategic in your thinking also means that you know precisely where you are, and where you want to be, drawing in fact, a map connecting the two points.


There is a difference between a magical thinker and a dream chaser. One stays in on the sofa fantasizing about what could be, and the other wakes up every morning and fills their ambition bottle to the brim with focused hard work, diligence, and grit.


Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.