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Driving Ambition

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...Image via Wikipedia

Elvis Presley said that "Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine." What a sweet ride! Often it's the only difference between champions and losers. As star golfer Nancy Lopez once said, "Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up."

Donna Karan, the celebrated fashion designer and founder of DKNY, started out in the business as Anne Klein's assistant. But she had a dream with a V8 engine. While pregnant with her first child, she clearly communicated her priorities and goals to Klein. She was committed to the company and wanted to have as active a role as she could during and after her pregnancy, as long as her unborn baby's health would allow it. Anne Klein died when Karan's baby was two days old. The company's corporate head asked Karan to take over as chief designer.

Ambition doesn't mean being a workaholic. Nor does it mean being unethical. It's a combination of goal-setting, focus, engagement and competitiveness. On the golf course, Jack Nicklaus was as driven as they come. But off the course, he managed to build a multi-million-dollar business at the same time, raise a great family, and give back to his profession.

  • Who's your role model when it comes to ambition?
  • Is there someone in your company or your family who combines intensity, passion and focus with the ability to hang on for the long haul?
  • How do they do it? Ask them.

On a scale of one to ten, rank yourself on focus, goal-setting, and competitiveness. Your scores will tell you if you're running at V8 capacity or puttering along on only four cylinders.

- Shirley Poertner

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