Virabhadrasana A (Warrior 1)

Harnessing Your Ambition

I always feel about ten years late to the party when I say things like: “Wow, there are so many podcasts!” Is anyone else with me on this?

Was I the only person in the dark without knowing that there was an infinitive variety of free audible content available to listen to? Literally, podcasts for days, weeks, months, and years. Needless to say, I’m making up for lost time and listening to podcasts while I cook dinner and drive long distances. It makes me feel like I’m attending a conference on the nightly and hearing the wisdom of the best teachers on many subjects.

One podcast that I can’t get enough of is the RobCast by Rob Bell, an author, speaker, and spiritual teacher. He’s in cahoots with some of my favorite authors: Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, Brené Brown, and he’s a great storyteller with an even better sense of humor. Through his podcast, I have learned a lot about the traditions and stories of Christianity and how they apply to modern times. A friend of mine summarized him best in saying: “He just makes so much sense!” Rob Bell speaks a lot about inclusive spirituality and uses his knowledge of the original pre-translated stories of the Bible to give his listeners wisdom and tools for how to navigate the challenges of this cuckoo pants world that we live in.

One of my favorite episodes that I go back and listen to is his podcast titled: What To Do With Your Ambition (47 minutes)

This message is near and dear to me as a human who has always been full of desire, ambition, big dreams, and yearning for wanting more, holding myself to high standards, always pushing myself to and get better. Yes, that drive has manifested in some great creative and achievement-oriented output and physical feats. But the darker side of unchecked ambition shows up as over-commitment, overwhelm, resentment, exhaustion, and self-hatred. Never in my time doing this work have I ever heard anyone state those words as Core Desired Feelings. This podcast is valuable because in it Rob answers the question:

“How can we know when our ambition is out of control?”

In other words, how can we know when our ambition is healthy and when it is not?

Remember: these are Rob’s truth bombs, not mine. I highly recommend that you listen to the full podcast which I linked above. But if you don’t have time, here’s his distilled wisdom on the subject of harnessing your ambition.

You know your ambition has hijacked you when:

  1. You feel your life isn’t sustainable. You’re committed to too many things. You tell people all the things you’re up to and then follow it with an: “I know, it’s crazy, right?”
  2. You’re threatened by the achievements of others instead of being inspired by them. You think: “Must be nice to be them…” instead of: “Oh wow, THAT’S possible?! Good for them.”
  3. You can’t name “it”; that which you are striving for. For example, you hear yourself say things like: “Everything will be great when I get/achieve/finish ‘it’” and when someone asks you what ‘it’ is, you can’t really explain what ‘it’ is.
  4. You’re so goal-focused that you’ve lost gratitude for the day-to-day process of getting there. You no longer say: “Wow, I get to do this!” Every day seems boring and ordinary unless something amazing happens.
  5. You feel like you’re owed, entitled to something, or underappreciated. You think thoughts like: “I’ve been working so hard; I deserve this promotion and they’d better give it to me.”
  6. You can’t see the bigger picture when setbacks happen and things go wrong. You hear yourself say: “This is never going to work!” and “Why does everything go wrong for me?”

Rob goes on to offer a piece of advice for what TO DO when you notice your ambition is running the show in a way that isn’t productive:

Own your desires

I mean, really! So good! This is exactly what we were talking about in Core Desired Feelings. Remember? Fully own your desires and how you want to feel, and then show up, do the work. Don’t let your fear-based ego to push you into doing more than is necessary. You’ll burn out and you won’t enjoy the process.

Rob also reminds us ambitiously out-of-the-box big dreamers what NOT TO DO with unchecked ambition which is: avoid it and disengage from it. He reminds us that our ambition is our gift to bear to the world and if we have the urge to make it and create it, then we must heed that urge as long as it’s with us. We cannot and should not allow ourselves to be derailed by negative thoughts and setbacks.


I’d love to hear from you: have you ever experienced your ambition running the show of your life in a negative way? How did you become aware of it? What did you do to turn back towards health ambition? Or if you are currently experiencing over-active ambition, what is one thing you can do today, right now, to get yourself back in the driver’s seat?

Two more things:

If you’re going to be in Eugene on Saturday, March 17th and you’d like some help gaining clarity, purpose, and direction for the upcoming spring season, I’m hosting an event called the Spring Ahead Workshop and you’re all invited! In the company of others, we’ll meet for two hours to answer some questions, do a little bit of gentle movement, and figure out a plan for what you want to do and how you’d like to show up and get lucky in Spring 2018.

Lastly, Rob Bell is currently on a speaking tour and when I tried to get tickets for his Holy Shift (ha!) show in Portland, they were all sold out. If you are selling or if you know someone who has tickets they can’t use and want to sell at face value, I’d be so grateful if you would contact me and let me know!

Breathe and believe, beauties.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s