How to Know if You’re Ambitious: Examples of Ambitious People

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Have you ever looked at someone successful and wondered if you had what it takes to do the same? We all want to be great, but it’s not uncommon for us to question how driven we are. That’s why today we’re answering the question “How to know if you’re ambitious?” and looking at a few examples of ambitious people.

You can know you’re an ambitious person if you’ve got clear goals, are willing to take risks, persevere when obstacles arise, have a strong drive to work hard, and you’re always looking for opportunities to grow. Some examples of ambitious people include Malala Yousafzai, Steve Young, and Zheng He.

Let’s dive right in!

You Know You’re Ambitious if Setbacks Make You Stronger

Malala Yousafzai was just 11 years old when her ambition of advocating for girls’ education began to flourish. She started writing for the BBC about what it was like to live in Pakistan under the rule of the Taliban and was on her way to fulfilling her dreams.

Just four years later everything nearly came to an end when Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on the bus to school. They targeted her for her aspirations and writing against the way the Taliban treated girls.

The assassination attempt left Malala seriously wounded. The long road to recovery included many surgeries and rehabilitation, but she remained focused on her cause. She says:

“It was then I knew I had a choice: I could live a quiet life or I could make the most of this new life I had been given. I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school.”

She continued her efforts and with the help of her father, began the Malala Fund to begin to support education around the world. Today, Malala has graduated from Oxford and travels the world helping girls receive the education they deserve.

Malala’s story is an example of incredible courage, determination, and of course, ambition. If you find yourself sticking to your dreams even when you have serious setbacks, you’re an ambitious person.

Ambitious People Show Up Early and Work Late

Another example of an ambitious person who inspires me and many others is that of Steve Young. You might know him from his glory days as the quarterback of the 49ers.

But things weren’t always so simple for him.

After a successful high school football career, Steve was put on as the eighth-string quarterback at Brigham Young University. 

That means that seven other quarterbacks would have to get injured or otherwise be unable to play before Steve would get a chance on the field.

He was devastated and almost quit. Luckily his dad, who aptly has the nickname “grit,” wouldn’t let him.

“Coaches don’t know my name.” Steve told his dad, who responded by saying “You can quit… but you can’t come home because I’m not going to live with a quitter.”

Rather than playing small and giving up, Steve’s ambition won and he decided to put in more effort than ever before.

He was the first to practice the last one to leave. He spent time alone throwing footballs for extra practice.

“My arm hurt. But I wanted to be a quarterback.” — Steve Young

Soon, Steve’s hard work, focus on what he could control, and ambition, led him to become the starting quarterback at BYU. It wasn’t many years later that he’d be making it even bigger in the NFL.

While Steve is also an example of sticking with his goals when setbacks arise, I’m inspired even more by the incredible effort that he put in. It motivates me to show up, even on the tough days, before everybody else, and keep working even when others have gone home.

If you, like Steve Young, work harder than anybody else to achieve your dreams, then that means you’re an ambitious person.

You’re Ambitious if You Stick to Your Goals Even When They’re Difficult to Accomplish

The last example of ambitious people that we’ll look at is one I hadn’t heard of before. His name was Zheng He, and some regard him as the greatest admiral in the history of China. 

As an explorer and mariner during the Ming dynasty, he spent a lot of time traveling the world with his hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of sailors.

During his fourth expedition in 1413, Zheng He headed to Africa’s east coast, connecting with local leaders and establishing diplomatic relationships. 

As part of the trip, he went to the Swahili Coast, a place that no Chinese sailor had explored. While there, he discovered and became mesmerized by Giraffes.

He was so interested in them that he decided to capture some and bring them back as a gift for the Emperor. However, it was tough to transport the tall and large animals, especially by boat. 

Zheng He had to create a new way to safely get them to China. Using his skills as an engineer, built a special enclosure to protect them on the long journey home. 

His hard work and perseverance through challenges make Zheng He another great person to look at as an example of an ambitious person. 

If you stick with your goals even when they get difficult, then that means you’re ambitious too.

Let’s Wrap This Up 

To recap, here are a few of the traits of ambitious people that mean you’re ambitious:

  • You have clear goals
  • You’re prepared to take risks
  • You’ve got a fierce drive to work hard
  • You’re always looking for opportunities to get better

There are many examples of ambitious people, but just a few are Malala Yousafzai, Steve Young, and Zheng He.