EPISODE 3: Which Ambition Type Are You?
September 17, 2020


Is your ambition fueled by positivity? I’ve come to realize that ambition comes in two forms, inspired and anxious. Not only can you feel a difference in these two types of motivation, but you can also see a difference in the end result. In this episode, I’m sharing about these two types of ambition and what each approach is fueled by.

Morning Productivity (1:20)

Two Types of Ambition: (4:57)

Inspired ambition – Inspired ambition comes from alignment. We get this burst of energy when we feel like we have something to say or something to create that aligns with our deeper calling.

Anxious ambition – Anxious ambition comes from lack of worthiness. We do more because we feel like we’re not enough. We believe the more boxes we check the better we’ll feel, but that’s never the case.

The Anxious Way: (8:10)
1. Comparison
2. Money
3. Titles
4. Approval

The Inspired Way (9:15)
1. Belief in better
2. Self-confidence
3. Detachment from outcomes

The Episode’s One Liner: Instead of asking yourself: “Am I doing enough?’ Instead, ask yourself: “What am i doing this for?” (10:11)


Review the Transcript:

Hey everyone, thank you so much for tuning in today. In this episode, we’re going to get into the two different kinds of ambition that we experience. If you’re like me, for a while, I didn’t even realize that there was two different kinds of ambition that I was working from. I thought that work was just work. But when we can realize and pinpoint where we’re working from deep within us, why are we showing up today? What are we trying to prove? Then we can figure out, What are our motivating factors? How can we work better? How can we work from a place of inspiration and less anxiety?

That’s what we’re going to cover in this episode. If you’ve liked Business on the Bright Side so far, I would love to hear from you. Tell me what you think of it. Subscribe, write a review, all that jazz. Super helpful for me and enjoy the episode. What’s up everybody? It is Jess Ekstrom. Welcome to Business on the Bright Side, the podcast where you can learn how to make a living and make a difference at the same time. Life is short and so is my attention span. So let’s get started.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about two different kinds of ambition. But for me, I get my best work done in the mornings. I love waking up early before the sun comes up and everything is quiet. I make coffee. I pet my dog. I curl up on the couch with my computer and try to create something before my day begins. It’s actually a funny story, I never used to be a morning person. I think there were a few times as a kid, when I brushed my teeth in the car because I didn’t get up at time. Then a few years ago, I went to Switzerland for a couple of weeks. When I got back, my body clock was so out of whack that I started waking up super early. I realized what a gift it was to have a few extra hours in the morning all to myself.

Sometimes I wake up and I have an idea or something I want to write about. I just can’t help but let my fingers type away on the pages. Sometimes the words are just for me or sometimes there’s something I want to share on LinkedIn or a newsletter. But my energy is just flowing through me and when I’m done, and I’m scanning the pages, it feels like I just received a gift. Have you ever felt that before when you created something and you’re like, “Oh, such a gift?” But then there are other days, other days when I have quite a different experience. I wake up from a place of panic and my heart is beating a little bit faster. I’m thinking about all the things I have to do and these questions of doubt run through my head, like “What can I create that will make me stand out? Why am I not further along in my career right now? Why did she get that opportunity and not me? Why hasn’t this person emailed me back yet? Why did this post get low engagement? Do people not like me?”

All of these questions start popping up in my head. I open the laptop and the blank page looks like this daunting task, instead of a canvas of opportunity. I try to write something that other people will care about and think about what will get me the most likes shares. Instead of the words flowing out of me, it’s more like ringing a wet towel and squeezing my head for anything that will drip out onto the page. Then after a few minutes of ringing that towel, I give up, and click out of the document, and open up my email.

I tell myself I open up my email because I want to make sure there aren’t any fires that need me or touch base with my team before the day gets started. But really if I’m truly being honest with myself, I open up my email in times of angst because I’m looking for something to make me feel worthy. I scan the subject lines looking for something that says, “Congratulations,” or I check for a signed speaker agreement, or an encouraging message, or anything that will support this identity of importance and success. When we feel like we’re less, the first place we look to correct that feeling is to other people. We check email, we check Instagram, Facebook, or any other platform that puts us on display. We’re like, “Like me, please.” But when I wake up with this angst, it’s coming from a place of feeling like I’m behind in comparison to others.

So I do more. I work more and keep refreshing all of these mediums for someone or something to tell me I made it. So this is when I’ve realized that there are two different types of ambition. What’s the difference between the mornings when I open up the laptop with freely flowing words versus the mornings where I work ferociously for the approval of others? It comes from these two types of ambition that we feel, inspired ambition and anxious ambition. Inspired ambition comes from alignment. We get this burst of energy when we feel like we have something to say or something that aligns with this deeper calling. But anxious ambition comes from feeling this lack of worthiness. We do more because we feel like we’re not enough. We believe the more boxes we check, the better we’ll feel, but that’s never the case. I learned that when the Brittany Spears song, Lucky, came out in 2000. So thanks, Britney.

But imagine inspired ambition like the natural energy we feel after a good night’s rest. Anxious ambition is like the energy that comes from tossing back a 5-Hour Energy shot. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “At the end of the day, they’re both energy. They both produce work, so does it really matter how the work gets done?” Yes it does, so I’m glad you asked. Have you ever walked somewhere when you’re talking on the phone? Then when you leave and walk back, there are things you didn’t notice on the walk there? Or maybe you don’t even remember the walk there, that’s happened to me so many times. Maybe there’s a box on the side of the road that says ‘Free Puppies.’ You didn’t pick one up because you didn’t see it, now you don’t have a puppy. How we get there matters. How we develop our ideas and create them, carries more influence than we might realize.

How we get there matters. How we develop our ideas and create them carries more influence than we might realize. In fact, the transit should influence the destination, meaning the way we walk somewhere might influence where we end up going. When we create from a place of angst, it’s like we’re talking on the phone on the way there. We’re not walking because we have somewhere to go, we’re walking because someone else is walking. We want to walk faster and we’re taking in none of the surroundings along the way. When we create from a place of inspiration, we’re walking with intention. We remember the street signs, we turn when we feel like it. We feel our feet on the ground, and we pick up the damn puppy. Then when we create from a place of angst, the work is usually not that good. The aim of the work we produce is for others to approve and not because it’s truly meaningful or valuable. It’s like spending all of our time trying to create a taco that others will like, when really we have no clue what kind of taco others will like.


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