Unapologetic Ambition: Three Strategies for Becoming Fearless in Your Pursuit of The Next Level

One day you will absolutely get sick and tired of playing small. Watching others scale up the ladder, take credit for your ideas and pursue their deepest desires without an ounce of fear about what anyone thinks.


Make that day, today.


Nine years ago, I found myself running late to a speaking engagement in Washington DC. It was prior to most cars coming already equipped with a GPS, so I found myself rolling around the Adams Morgan neighborhood at night, where there was absolutely no parking, or parking lots nearby and two minutes before “show time,” referring to the printed directions sitting on the passenger seat. 


Of course, as Murphy would have it, every light was red, traffic was at a standstill every parking spot within a mile was taken. I was beside myself. 


I was also quite aware that my contract stated plainly that I had to be there 30-45 minutes before class. The woman who hired me was blowing up my phone every five minutes so I was  fielding calls her, while trying to navigate my parking situation.


In all intents and purposes, it was a hot mess


Finally, I found a space, 10 minutes past the hour. I anxiously parked the car, hopped out and ran as fast as I could to the location—up the steps of the brownstone. I dashed straight up to the front of the, set my stuff down and began immediately—without taking one breath. 


Anyone who knows me, knows one fundamental truth. I’m a fast talker by nature. So, you can only imagine that by the time I stepped into the front of the class, I was operating beyond level 10.


I instantly began to explain and apologize for my running late—without taking one breath to pause.  About five minutes in, I could barely talk. My adrenaline was so high, and my mouth felt as if it were filled with cotton balls. Literally. I felt like I was having some sort of out of body experience. What was going on with my mouth I wondered?  It got so bad, that I couldn’t do anything but ask to take a brief break and grab some tea in the back of the room. I stepped into the restroom and regrouped. Did a brief prayer, grabbed my tea and returned to the front of the room. 


Looking back at that incident, what stands out most is it never occurred to me to pause and regroup prior to walking to the front of the room. Do you want to know why? I was an amateur. I was too intent on “seeming fierce.” That I showed up as anything but. 


Esse quam videri is a Latin phrase that I have resonated with from the moment I read it. It means meaning "To be, rather than to seem.”


The reality is, if you are making the decision to go for it and become more visible, you will make mistakes—a ton of them. Things will bomb. Ideas will crash and burn and yes, people will talk--negatively. But so what? Don’t let that stop you from stepping into the fiercest version of yourself because the reward of being the all that you can be is worth every obstacle you will encounter along the way. 


Here are three strategies that will help tremendously in your pursuit: 


1.    Plan:  If I were to stop by your house and request to see your Personal Elevation Game-plan within the next few minutes, would you be able to provide me with it? Are you working from a plan that moves you closer by the day to your goals, or is your day consumed by achieving goals that move others closer to theirs (Boss, clients, colleagues).  You can’t hit a target you haven’t identified. Therefore, make it a priority to develop a clear and concise plan for what your next level looks like, then reference it daily and do at least one thing per day to move you closer to it. 


2.    Pause: Build in time to evaluate how you are doing. Get quiet. Meditate on your goals. Contemplate where you are going. It’s far too easy to put yourself on auto-pilot and try to blast your way to the top. But, it shouldn’t be that hard. Carve out time to think. Daily. Set aside 10-minutes for nothing but thinking about your future. Analysing what you are doing, how things are going and what needs to be improved, dropped, or delegated. 


3.    Pretend:Imagine for a moment that we can fast forward. The fullest, dopest, most magnetic you has arrived on the scene. How would she act? What does she wear? How does she speak? One of the biggest challenges that most people have stepping into the highest version of themselves, is they are waiting for external things to happen before they become that person. Example: when I get more money, I will…Or, when I get another degree, I will…or when I get more experience. Do me a favor, pretend you are her now—then watch what happens.