I think we can all agree that to have “ambition” is important, for men & women, to grow, to be successful, and to advance the world we live in. But for many different reasons which I’m still trying to understand, the word “ambition”, when combined with the word “woman” feels somewhat disconcerting for many in our societies, whether you’re in Malaysia, Switzerland or Brazil. As a woman, if you choose to prioritize your career, you’re seen to “selfish”. If you lead, you’re called “bossy”. And if you raise your voice, you’re being “aggressive”. Why is “ambition” incompatible with being feminine? My lean in pledge was to marry the 2; ambition & women, and it is what inspired me to champion the Lean in Career Programme. Because to be ambitious is a great thing.
I am so proud, and honoured, to have witnessed over the past 8 weeks 22 female professionals harness their ambitions to lean in. Through a highly sophisticated process & innovative methodologies, powered by Leadapreneur 😉 the Lean In Career Programme focused on enabling the participants to actually achieve their career goals instead of talking about them. Earlier this morning some of you witnessed 22 women share how they leaned in to achieve what they thought was impossible. They gained clarity and confidence to lead, negotiating for higher salaries, earn promotions, start new companies & build ideas, better teams, relationships & movements. Every one of their stories is united by the fact that they awakened their ambition and they chose to do something great for themselves. With a 0% drop out rate and a 100% mentor retention rate, these women and their Lean In stories are a true testimony of what it means to be ambitious. Their stories spoke for themselves and proved that we can achieve greatness when we choose to pursue our ambitions. Ladies, I salute you and your courage. Thank you for inspiring me to believe that to be ambitious is a great thing.
Ladies & gentlemen, we need to change the stereotype of what it means to be an “ambitious woman”. Because I believe ambition is not a dirty word. Ambition is a great word. It is an AMAZING word. It’s is a sexy word. A word you use to build your future. And so if we want to empower women to harness their potential, we need to empower them to be ambitious. I urge each one of you to ask yourselves “what is your great ambition?” That’s a big question. What is it in your life you think you cannot accomplish yet you yearn to achieve?… Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do?… Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong? Wouldn’t it feel better to prove yourself right? And to stop standing in the shadow & to step into the light. YOUR light.
Imagine this… What would happen if we were all brave enough to believe in our own abilities & to awaken the fire of being ambitious? I think we would live in a better world. Because to be ambitious is to announce to the world that it is your time to shine. Seize it, live it, become it. Breath the fire of your ambition, awaken your soul & become great. Greatness lies in all of us; we’re just waiting for the chance to release it. So I say to you: your time is now. This is not the end, this is the beginning of your time to shine.