I remember how frustrating it was. “We don’t know what will be decided, so we’ll have to wait and see.” “We need to lower the level of ambition based on the reality we live in.” This was repeated every year during the 1990s when I served on the various exercises in the Armed Forces.
The politicians cut the money and we had to adapt. But it was so mild that there was almost nothing left. No hope in business, no faith in the future, no exercises, no activity.
Always being told that we had to reduce our level of ambition was demoralising. It was boring and uninteresting to attend.
The case was high
Before that, from 1985 to 1995, the level of ambition was high. We worked on developing our unit, we planned, we practiced and we looked forward to the next time we would meet again to continue our work.
This meant that when, in the second half of the 1990s, there were orders to lower the level of ambition, the fall was very high. Many people left the “company” because they did not believe in the future.
High level of ambition
How does this relate to improvement work and business development, you may be thinking? Yes, there is a direct link. To succeed in development, to build, to get better, you need to have a high level of ambition.
It is directly devastating to have a low level of ambition. It is equally devastating to be told, as an individual with high ambition, that you must lower your level.
“If you want to reach the treetops, you have to aim for the sky,” I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid. It’s like this too; a high level of ambition is a guarantee that you will also go further.
You may see, as I do, that somehow there is always a little discount on what you want. A small drop that often means you don’t quite reach the end. If you want 100, you might reach 80. But if you only want 50, you’ll only get to 30.
This applies both personally and in business. If you have low ambition, you will remain small in your thoughts, your plans and in your will.
Because with low ambition, it doesn’t take much effort. And a small effort also yields a meagre result. The only good thing about a really long ambition level is that you will almost always achieve it, because it didn’t take much. But there will be no development.
- Charlotte Kalla or Gunde Svan would never have succeeded with their bravado in low-ambition skiing.
- Elon Musk had not succeeded in building Paypal, Tesla or Space-X with low ambition.
- Albert Einstein would never have come up with the theory of relativity if he had had a long ambition.
- You would never have educated yourself and gotten to the position you have today if you had had a long amnesty.
Your business will also never be what it could actually be, if you don’t work on setting high goals, high expectations and painting a big vision. In addition, businesses must also be prepared to pay the price by working to make them a reality.
Start to finish
All your improvement work starts with you and you have this high level of ambition.
If you find that you are in a business that has a low level of ambition, then you can focus on enthusing your managers and employees. However, everyone has to decide for themselves to share the high level of ambition. If you don’t, you won’t succeed.
If you find that the business as a whole does not share your high level of ambition and you have tried to raise it but to no avail, then I suggest you look for a place where you are more appreciated. Don’t put sordidness on your own ambition. We need it. Don’t belittle yourself with small thoughts, just because others say “we need to lower our ambitions”.
Raise it instead. Because that’s where you’ll find the success to solve the problems that business faces.
Have a really ambitious week.