Why Aspiring and Working Professionals Must Learn to Balance Ambition with Realism

The Need to Balance Ambition with Realism

It is good to be ambitious. However, it is equally important to be realistic about one’s capabilities and strengths as well as be cognizant of weaknesses. In addition, aspiring and working professionals must also be aware of the limits that the external circumstances place.

In other words, ambition is internally generated whereas realism is a combination of self-awareness and the barriers to success that the external world imposes. Thus, aspiring and working professionals must understand this aspect and balance their ambition with realism.

Do you have it in you to Succeed?

There are many of you studying in business and technical schools who dream of the stars and a career that is rewarding and fulfilling and at the same time provides you with material benefits such as a substantial compensation, generous bonuses, and other perks.

However, the question that you must ask yourself is whether you have the necessary skills, attributes, and most importantly, the resources within and external to make your dreams come true. In other words, in our experience, many students in business schools and technical colleges often enter such places with a view of becoming investment bankers or management consultants and being hired by the best technology companies.

This means that they do have the ambition to succeed though they can also be daydreaming since such careers require hard work, discipline, patience, and above all, the extra edge that separates the best from the ordinary.

External Constraints

While this is not to discourage you from aspiration and ambition, we must also remind you that there are external constraints such as gloomy economic conditions, lack of financial support from families, family circumstances, and above all, the very real aspect of not being in the right place at the right time which often determines whether you succeed or fail.

Indeed, most business school students often are studying in the second or third tier management institutes and hence, might not be in a position to bag the best offers from reputed companies.

Thus, if you are ambitious, you must first try and get into a top-notch college or institute and ensure that you maintain the momentum. From our experience, building, sustaining, and repeating focus throughout one’s education and career is perhaps one of the most important requisites for success.

For instance, you must first focus on securing admission to a top-notch institute and then maintain the same focus throughout the course. In addition, you must be able to sustain such focus throughout your career as well. Apart from that, you must be able to repeat and retain the focus even when you fail at times which means that setbacks should not drag you down.

Therefore, it is clear that success in the present times is as much about internal attributes as it is about external circumstances. We use the word external limits since the current gloomy economic conditions are making it harder to get jobs as well as be immune from the layoffs that are happening. Hence, you must be cognizant of the external limits that are placed on your ambition.

Perform an Honest and Realistic SWOT Analysis of Where You Stand

A good way to check and assess your situation would be to perform a SWOT or a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis that you can use to evaluate whether you have the internal capabilities and the favorable external environment.

For instance, when you list down the strengths, you must be honest with yourself and list only those attributes that are clear and relevant. Also, you must list your weaknesses as accurately as possible so that you don’t have an inflated or a false sense of yourself.

Next, you must take into account the opportunities that are externally available so that you have an idea about how much you can succeed based on such opportunities. Indeed, this aspect is what we call realism considering the fact that there are hard limits to how much you achieve based on the external imperatives.

The fourth and the last aspect of the SWOT Analysis would be an honest appraisal of where the threats are and how they can impact you. Here again, you need to be cognizant of such threats as well as be aware of the limitations that such threats place on you.

Be Cautiously Optimistic and Dream with Fire in the Belly

An important aspect of the need to balance ambition with realism is that you must be cautiously optimistic without being pessimistic and at the same time, you must not build castles in the air lest they crash down to reality and set you back in the process.

This applies to working professionals as well who can easily be distracted by the initial success that often leads to overconfidence and complacency. Indeed, whether you are a student or a working professional, complacency is what you must avoid if you are really serious about success.

Lastly, we recommend that you also take into account family and personal health as factors that can limit you down.

For instance, you might need to take a break from education or work to attend to family members as well as your own health failing which means that these are real possibilities that can hamper and hinder your ambition.

Indeed, many professionals simply have burnt out a decade or so into their careers and hence, have had to drop out or take a break from work. To conclude, ambition tempered with realism and dreams backed by the fire in the belly are essential ingredients of success.


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