Budding entrepreneurs often overdo ambition. Not that its wrong, but its fatally dangerous if not approached in the right fashion. Ambition is not an end, but merely a means. The most important thing is having a vision or a dream if you will. You need to have a vivid mental image of your ultimate destination; a place you would want to be when all pans out.
A vision is not an ordinary goal, but that seemingly unattainable (though achievable), distant dream that influences the decisions you make in your business and life. Ambition on the other hand is simply a strong drive for success. It’s like the fuel that sets you on the path toward your vision. With that in mind, it is very important that you direct your drive for success toward your vision.
Ambition alone is dangerous, remember Bernard Madoff?
For those who don’t know, Bernard Madoff is unquestionably the father of all Ponzi schemes. Madoff was the architect behind the largest financial fraud in U.S history, funneling an estimated $17.3 billion into his shadowy scheme. Interestingly, this white collar 73 year old criminal, who is currently serving a 150 year sentence, had an equally inspiring story at the outset.
In retrospect, Madoff could have made a perfect fit for a ‘rugs to riches’ Hollywood blockbuster. He started his firm, Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities LLC, with only $5000- money he had saved from working as a lifeguard and sprinkler installer. Through the years, he managed to ink more and more lucrative deals, though at times with help from relatives. Nonetheless, he rose astronomically to ultimately become the non executive chairperson of NASDAQ; the popular stock trading platform that houses bigwigs like Apple and Google. Despite these seemingly huge achievements, Madoff wanted more. This led him into white collar crime where he stole billions under the disguise of his ever-fervent smile.
In it all, we learnt a lot from Madoff. But most importantly, we learnt the danger of having ambition without vision. Ambition merely guarantees success, but does success necessarily bring satisfaction? It doesn’t. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? This case study underscores the importance of having a defined vision, both in entrepreneurship and life.
The secret behind Bill Gate’s success
Bill Gates is arguably one of the most celebrated personalities in the world. Admired for his philanthropy, respected for his innovation and followed for his fortune, he is the classic example of an accomplished entrepreneur.
What most people don’t know however is that the secret behind Gate’s insurmountable success is not the PC, but rather his vision; a vision that stretches far beyond business.
All through, Gates wanted to change the world. When he started Microsoft back in 1975, his vision was to put a computer on every desk and home in the world. At the time, there was a lot of scrutiny. Nonetheless, through calculated decisions, he managed to make this dream come true. And in achieving this goal, he understood his ultimate vision even more.
Gates not only wanted a PC for every home in the world but he wanted to make social changes for everyone, regardless of where they came from. This vision influenced his renowned 2008 announcement where he pledged his entire $58 billion fortune (at the time) to charity; a move that saw him strike his children off his will. Striking his children off his will was not out of spite, but a move aimed at financing his Bill & Melinda Foundation; a foundation that funds health and educational projects around the world, especially in under-served markets.
In it all, Gates’ dream was to make a change. But to achieve this, he needed ambition; ambition that he not only had but that he also coupled with a defined vision. And as they say, money is only a bonus to achieved goals and aspirations. Gates is swimming in the green because of achieved aspirations not overzealous ambition alone.
Gates story clearly shows us that ambition is aimless without vision. Entrepreneurs should strive to map out their vision in life and in business. This way, they will be able to reconcile their vision with their ambition to ultimately emerge victorious.