What’s Our Ambition?

The Leadership ABCs are at the very core of my book, Mind Growing. But while most leaders think “I’ve already got ambition!” there’s a little more to it…

Your Ambition – the direction that both you and your team will engage with – needs to come from the heart. As I describe in my earlier post, Ambition is about authentic, meaningful goals that make it worthwhile for co-workers to get out of bed each day.

How To Formulate Authentic Ambition

Authentic ambition is rooted in what you deeply consider worthwhile. It’s not about figures, targets, or profits.

As humans, our limbic brains don’t respond to these things – honestly, they don’t even know what words or numbers are! No matter how much you practice your public speaking, the human limbic brain reacts strongly to real passion and emotion. If you want people to get as passionate as you are about your Ambition, you need to feel those emotions deep in your heart.

That’s why this post is about your personality. About what you value, and what drives you: your values, emotions, and beliefs.

Once you start to understand these, you start understanding your behavior on a whole new level. You can discover your Ambition, engage others with it, and get them super motivated to pursue it.

So let’s explore your personality!

Different Layers of Your Personality

In Mind Growing, I’ve drawn together elements from neuroleadership and other frameworks to explain 6 different layers of your personality and how they interact with one another*.

They are:
– Your Context;
– Your Behaviors;
– Your Knowledge and Skills;
– Your Ego;
– Your Beliefs; and
– Your Emotional Drivers.

Getting To Know You!

Let’s see if you can relate to these different parts of who you are…

Your Context (and How you Perceive It)

Your context is the environment you work or live in and the specific situations you encounter. Put simply, the way you interpret or perceive your context is related to your personality.

Things happen in the world. People say stuff, act certain ways, and so forth, but YOU are YOU because specific attribute meaning to these events. If Terese asks for something, you might perceive it as a reasonable request. Paul – who’s not you – might perceive it as an irrational demand.

These perceptions come from the sense-making part of your brain – your “rational neocortex”.

Your Behavior

Your behavior is just that – it’s what you think, feel, say, do, and so forth in a certain context. Building on our example, you might smile at Terese, for instance, or you might respond to her request right away.

Your Knowledge and Skills

Of course, we can’t act in certain ways unless we have the knowledge and skills to do so. And there are skills involved in everything we do – even the things we feel are negative.

Even your colleague “Do it yourself, Terese!” is a kind of delegating skill, arguably.

What you might want to do to become stronger, though, is ask yourself: Can I develop or use this skill in some other way?

Your Beliefs

Your beliefs are another important part of your personality. They are the rules, assumptions, cognitive constructs that you use to understand how the world works and how things must go. For instance: “Helping others [like Terese] is important.

You may be aware of certain beliefs you hold, but others lie below the surface at an emotional level. To become a stronger leader, you could start by exploring whether any of these rational or emotional beliefs are holding you back.

Your Ego

Your ego is another core part of your personality, too, one that buffers you from strong internal emotions or perceived weaknesses.
You can think of your ego like a coat that you put on while you were developing into you: it’s the image you have of yourself that defends you from and/or positions you in the outside internal world.

For example: “I’m a loyal, trustworthy colleague,” or “I’m the funny guy!

Your Emotional Drivers and Values

Finally, your emotional drivers. These are the grains of your personality that are buffered by your ego.

I like to think of these as your needs. Your needs can come from a place of fear (“I need to be included,” “I need to be in control”), or from a desire to expand (“I need to win”, or “I need to be better.”)

These basic needs, in my opinion, are where our ambitions come from, and they’re innate. When you understand which needs are driving you – and which are driving you THE MOST, a whole lot more about who you are becomes clear.

Is That It?

If you’re feeling a little confused, don’t worry. Humans are complex, and all the elements of our personality are interlinked. Hopefully, you can at least relate to some of these 6 concepts, and start to see at least a few of the ways they impact one another. Try to think of some examples, and in my next post, I’ll describe how they are related!

Share your examples with me, I’d love to hear them!

*These include concepts from Bateson’s Psychological Levels and Blekkingh’s work on Authentic Leadership