Private Revolution: A Is for Ambition (Rise up!)

Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up. ~ “My Shot” (Hamilton)

No foolin’, today is the first day of the A to Z Blog Challenge! My 2016 theme is—wait for it— Private Revolution.

Private: for the use of a single person or group : belonging to one person or group : not public
Revolution: a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc. (

Disruption and revolution are everywhere these days, but the kind of revolution I’m interested in is an inner, personal revolution, the kind that we have known for a long time we need to make but don’t know where—or are too fearful—to begin. Private Revolution refers to a change in the way we live on the inside, our thoughts and dreams and attitudes, a change that doesn’t require anyone else or anything outside us to change in order for our life to change. The focus is on what we can do and who we can be. What we want to do. Who we know we have to be.

ThAe idea of the A to Z Blog Challenge is to write about a word from A to Z on every day of the month in April except Sunday. My goal is to use this challenge to explore and understand the inner call to Private Revolution. I hope at least some of it resonates with readers, as well, and would love for you to share your thoughts and journeys along the way in the comments

Today’s Topic: A Is for Ambition

Once, when I was working with an older woman whom I consider an influential mentor in my life, she said that I was ambitious. She meant it as a compliment and dropped the “A” word casually in our conversation, but I immediately felt my insides knot up. For weeks I churned over the conversation in my head. If she had said I was a loser it wouldn’t have felt as bad. I felt accused.

Why is that? The conversation occurred over ten years ago, and I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. These definitions of ambition from offer a clue:

  • 1. a particular goal or aim : something that a person hopes to do or achieve
  • 2. a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous
  • 3. a desire to do things and be active

The thing is, I am ambitious and always have been, but it feels like a secret I should keep. My ambition is not to be powerful or famous (truly, it is not—I cherish my alone time and privacy far too much for a public life), and it is not related to moving ahead socially or in an organization, but I do have a deep, perhaps inborn desire to move forward; to do things and lead an active life, creatively and mentally; to stretch myself; to grow.

Recently I’ve decided that I’ve spent enough time trying to understand my complicated relationship with ambition (I am sure that gender plays no small role). Instead, I am going forge on and ignore these thoughts in my head: but what will people think? who do you think you are, anyway? you don’t deserve to have more! you should be grateful for what you have and leave it at that.

Sound familiar?

Enough. It is time to do things. 

What is your relationship to ambition?

Click here. to see all of the 1856 blogs (and counting) participating in the A to Z Challenge. There is still time to sign up!

13 thoughts on “Private Revolution: A Is for Ambition (Rise up!)

  1. Ambition and gender…You are so right about the complicated relationship.

    Just as you feel the word “accused” when ambition is uttered, I feel the word “arrogant” for myself. I struggle with this issue. Your successes and yes, ambition, are an inspiration to me. Beautiful post. Thank you, Lisa!

    • I can say exactly the same about you, Marianne. When I can step back from the issue and look at it from a distance, I find it fascinating that we are so hard on ourselves. Thank you for such generous words.

  2. Hello,
    I’m visiting from the A-Z challenge. I understand how ambition can sometimes be confused with aggression. Perhaps more so in a competitive arena. But, I’ve always thought of it as a positive trait.

  3. “…but I do have a deep, perhaps inborn desire to move forward; to do things and lead an active life, creatively and mentally; to stretch myself; to grow” — Yes!

    Lisa, I am so grateful to have found your blog. This piece and your linked post, “A Fifty-Something Woman” have given me much to think about. You are giving voice to the very issues I am wrangling with as well. Your A-Z theme is ambitious , and I definitely mean that in the most complimentary, affirming way!

  4. Hello, Lisa! So happy to find you here on the A to Z Challenge! I love this theme of Personal Revolution. I’m reminded of Brad Paisley’s song, “Welcome to the Future.” He, like Jimmy Buffet, plays with words. Referring to events on our planet, he sings, “…every day a revolution.” I think it aligns well with our own ‘inner work’–at once profound and epiphanal, as well as slow and steady, every turning to a new dawn–both acute and progressive revelations, awakenings. I so look forward to sharing more. Happy writing! 🙂

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