Ambitious versus with ambition

What is the driver to push you forward? Do you want to be famous and successful or do you want to do what you love? Is there a difference? Where does it lay? What does it entail? What are the consequences?

We see ourselves at the top of a mountain victorious and proud. We envision that getting to the end of the path and being admired for it is the ultimate reward. We want to be directors, professors, Nobel price winners, Oscar possessors, with our name imprinted at the alley of stars of one sort or another. This is being ambitious. Focused on the end of the journey.

There is another take on ambition though — it is about having ambition rather than being ambitious. It is about daring to try. Wanting to excel. Willing to work really hard. No matter the reward. No matter the applaud.

The most beautiful way to express this difference can be found in the words of Merlin in the last book of Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny.

“I don’t know that I ever wanted greatness, on its own. It seems rather like wanting to be an engineer, rather than wanting to design something — or wanting to be a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it’s just an ego trip.”


Aga Szóstek, PhD is an experience designer with over 19 years of practice in both academic and business world. She is an author of “The Umami Strategy: stand out by mixing business with experience design”, a creator of tools supporting designers in the ideation process: Seed Cards and the co-host in the Catching The Next Wave podcast.



“The Umami Strategy: Stand out by mixing business with experience design”,

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