Ambition – Extract

Aim Impossibly High.

Our Manifesto says…

‘Ceilings are for people who like the comfort of shelter.  Forget that.  The dreams of a 3rdnutter are too big to fit under a roof.  If someone tries to build one over you, take a sledgehammer and bust through.’

Ambition… It’s the most basic driving force for humans.  It’s the desire to succeed, even if we don’t know at what…

We want to see it in our kids because, while almost everything else can be learned…ambition comes from your gut, you can’t teach it.  It’s a very personal trait, we have to carry it and nurture it all alone.  For most of us, it starts early in life.  Sadly, some lose it along the way when life hits them in the face with adversity or obstacles.








Let’s talk Ambition. It’s critical to understand that ambition is only part of the story and luck is only relevant AFTER you’ve set yourself up for success.  If you want to achieve your dreams, you need more than just ambition, you also need to know where you’re going and how to get there.  Think of it this way…

AMBITION is your fuel.  It’s the power that drives us to be better and make progress in life.  But to reach your destination, you also need Courage to overcome the obstacles, you need Toughness and Perseverance to help you make the long journey, you need knowledge, and a tribe for directions and support.  Develop a set of behaviors and rituals that combine together to create an unstoppable warrior within you.


Earlier I mentioned that I believe everyone starts with ambition in life.  It’s a fire that’s stoked by things you’re passionate about.  Often though, life throws obstacles in our way that tamp down our ambition.  The main culprit is fear, but other blockers include bad experiences, not seeing a way to achieve your desired purpose in life, family situations and other buzz killing events.  Let’s answer some basic questions for ourselves. The answers will help you find out what is suppressing your ambition and enable you to come up with a plan to demolish the blockers and re-ignite that fire that stokes your passion.

  • Do you have fears that hold you back?
  • Is your purpose clear?
  • Do you have a plan to achieve your purpose?
  • Do you have the right people around you to help you stoke that fire?
  • Are your friends ambitious people who cheer your success?

Saying no to any of these might mean your ambition is suffering, so let’s take a few minutes to write down the answers to these questions to help diagnose the problem.

A wise person once said that “If the circle of friends you have around you does not inspire you, then you are surrounded by a fence.”

  1. What are your REAL fears? Be honest.  If you share some typical human fears like embarrassment, failure, fear of rejection, or others, then it’s likely that these can slow your journey to success.  
  2. Do you know your purpose?  If you don’t, then your ambition is not finding the outlet to live and breathe and your fire is not getting enough oxygen.
  3. Do you have a plan to reach your purpose if you do know what it is?  Without a plan, it’s like getting in your car to go somewhere, but not knowing where you’re going.  That’s going to kill your ambition when you run out of fuel because you’re driving around aimlessly.
  4. You are what your top 10 friends are.  Are your friends as ambitious as you? If not, then you may not be getting the challenge and support you deserve.  Seek out friends and contacts that share your ambition and passion to succeed.

Human behavior is complex.  It is mysterious and unpredictable.  As humans, we act instinctively but we are also gifted with powerful reasoning and logic.  When these behaviors are combined with our acceptance of delayed gratification, which is the ability to deny ourselves immediate satisfaction in order to get a better outcome at some later point,  we humans become the most able, successful and powerful creatures on Earth.

We must use our knowledge and powers wisely in order to create an environment that benefits ourselves and others.  There is no other way…  

These powers can also be used for good, to combat those who exploit selfish human behavior for personal gain.   3rdNutters understand their unique role and responsibility as the Firekeepers.   (get my free ebook on Courage to learn all about our ancient badass tribe)  

In the English language, we seem to have words for human behaviors that lump a whole bunch of different behaviors together.  This is confusing and not always the case in other languages where specific human emotions and feelings have distinct words to represent them.  But in English, consider Ambition to be one of those words that convey different meanings to different people.  Depending on what times you live in, depending on your moral compass and belief systems, ambition can take on very different meanings.

I’ll give you 3 quotes that will describe 3 different types of ambition.  


“Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat.”

Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon

Desire to succeed

“I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night — there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.”

Marilyn Monroe

Desire to do good

“I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody.”

Abraham Lincoln

Here’s something to think about…

“If a person holds no ambitions in this world, he suffers unknowingly. If a person holds ambitions, he suffers knowingly, but very slowly.”

Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams

Plenty of people, in fact nearly everyone, have the seed. They want. Yet if you talk to the average person, you’ll find that the seed is just sitting there, shriveling up in the palm of their hand.  Maybe they don’t know how or where to plant it. Or maybe they’re just scared of the change that would happen if they gave it a little nurturing to grow.

It’s necessary to have ambition and goals, but many times we just don’t see any reasonable way to make them come true.  Therefore, we tuck it in the back of our mind and don’t take any concrete action to get there.  This is why you need to combine your ambition with some kind of a plan and goals to move forward, to see progress.  Otherwise, your ambitions may just shrivel up in the palm of your hand.

Again we get back to a plan, what do you need to fulfill your ambition?

  • A plan with achievable goals.
  • Encouragement
  • Courage
  • Patience
  • A support system
  • Mentorship

A plan is what sets you apart 3rdNutter – You know the simple secret to making that seed skyrocket is tucking it into the fertile soil of action.

Plus, you’d never let a little thing like fear get between you and your dream. At least not in the long run.

“A person’s worth is no greater than their ambitions.”

Running with Ambition.

Does that mean it’s easy for you to take action? Probably not. You’ve likely had to learn the hard way that ambition doesn’t pour unbidden from some mysterious wellspring. Like any fire, it’s something you have to actively feed. Now, since you’re reading this, you’re obviously a badass and probably have a cartload of brilliant strategies to keep ambition high (and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below)…but we’ll share a couple ideas here just in case.

Get Focused.

We all want a lot out of life, but trying to go after it all at the same time is draining and can erode ambition. Narrow in on a single pursuit that matters most to you, and then give it your undivided attention. This will free up mental and physical energy, meaning you can get to your goal faster.

Make a Plan.

Once you know what you want to focus on, there’s still the hurdle of what to do to get to your final destination….and there are so many roads you could take. Again, too many options are the enemy of ambition. Stay on track by sketching out what steps you will take to move the dream forward. Even if some of the steps wind up taking you slightly off course, it’s the movement that matters, and you’ll course correct along the way.

Find Support.

So we just said there will be missteps. It’s part of the process, and if you’re not careful it can eat away at the fragile little tree of ambition you’ve worked so hard to grow. That’s where a little support can come to the rescue. What’s that? You mean you don’t have to go it alone to be a true 3rdNutter? Quite the opposite. You need to be smart enough to use the resources at your disposal, and a voice of encouragement is one of the most critical. So find a person who believes in what you’re doing, and when the misstep happens, let them remind you of how far you’ve come, and why what you are doing is so awesome. And remember the 3rdNut tribe has got your back too.

Actions To Take This Week.

  • Make a list of what you want most in life. Then cross out everything but one item, the thing you want most RIGHT NOW.
  • Make the first pass at a plan–nothing perfect or frilly needed, even the back of a napkin stained from the meal you had while you worked will do. Just get the first steps you can take written down.
  • Write down your list and plan (or a picture of them) and paste it to your bathroom mirror.  Look at that everyday and take a concrete step, even if small, towards your goal.

Let’s finish up with a few thought provoking quotes:  I always find inspiration in what successful people have said to guide us, so I’ll throw a few in here for you to read.  Hope they inspire you to nurture your ambition!

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

Timothy Leary

“Surround Yourself with Positive People Who Believe in Your Dreams.  Distance yourself from negative people who try to lower your motivation and decrease your ambition. Create space for positive people to come into your life.  Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your dreams, encourage your ideas, support your ambitions, and bring out the best in you.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“We have advantages. We have a cushion to fall back on. This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. Something rare and wonderful. It’s almost historically unprecedented. We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to.”

Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

“A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat.”

Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon

“Why do I do anything?’ she says. ‘I’m educated enough to talk myself out of any plan. To deconstruct any fantasy. Explain away any goal. I’m so smart I can negate any dream.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

“People will kill you. Over time. They will shave out every last morsel of fun in you with little, harmless sounding phrases that people use every day, like: ‘Be realistic!'”

[What It Is (2009)]”

Dylan Moran

“Politeness. Now there’s a poor man’s virtue if ever there was one. What’s so admirable about inoffensiveness, I should like to know. After all, it’s easily achieved. One needs no particular talent to be polite. On the contrary, being nice is what’s left when you’ve failed at everything else. People with ambition don’t give a damn what other people think about them.”

Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale