Friday, June 28, 2013

A is for… Ambition

"60% of rowing is looking like a bad ass." 
—Raf Crowley, 2007

This is one of my favorite lines from college crew. Rowing is highly competitive and highly intense. However, and I can say this with absolute certainty, crew also requires a bit of swagger. Being a coxswain is the direct reason why I have the confidence to lead. 

I realized in college that many of the things I wanted to do were for bragging rights: skydiving, Tough Mudder, coxing at the Charles, taking a three-week road trip with a bunch of swarthy dudes. These were things I knew nobody thought I could do; and when I did them, I became something more. Now who's got the swagger?

I was reading an article on about female leaders and their reluctance to be openly ambitious: The Scarlet A by Leslie Bennett. The article goes into the writers' archive of interviews, and how she rarely meets a woman who isn't some degree of modest or self-deprecating. 

Is that how women are taught to respond, or are we scared of becoming the controlling, career-driven, no-time-for-family female archetype? 

Every morning for at least 30 minutes, I have to remind myself of the type of person I want to be. I have iTunes playlists of power songs. I tell myself that I am awesome at what I do, and that in the end, I will come out on top. It's almost a ritual: me taking stock of my life and getting ideas on how to be a bad ass. Sounds like psyching yourself up while you're rowing up to the starting line…

However, this month, I received an award for Outstanding Service to my school. I listened to the introduction, hoping that the person receiving the award wasn't going to me, despite the laundry list of accomplishments that sounded an awful lot like mine.

I didn't think that I have given enough time, or worked hard enough to deserve the award. On the flip side, I was afraid that my peers would think that it was given to me because I was a brown-noser. 

Maybe 60% of your career/life is looking (or feeling) like a bad ass. Maybe I have to tell myself I'm a bad ass every single day to believe it. It might sound cheesy and self-centered, but it works. I've never felt more in control of my life, and I know there are more amazing things that I will do.

In the words of Lean In, what would you do if you weren't afraid? What would you accomplish if you fully embraced your ambition? 

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