How To Unleash Your Ambition
By Leo Gura - July 6, 2015 | 25 Comments
A must-watch video for all ambitious people
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org. And in this episode, I want to talk about how to unleash your ambition.
The key idea that I want to get across to you in this episode is that, if you’re an ambitious person, or even if you just have an inkling of ambition within you, then it’s your job — at whatever cost it takes — to figure out a way to realize that ambition. And that it’s your job to play big rather than play small.
Because, in society, if you don’t unleash your ambition through your own sheer will, then what’s going to happen is that you’re going to get sucked down into the muck with everybody else. And that’s going to be a real disservice that you do to humanity. Because we need more ambitious people doing ambitious things.
One of the themes throughout my entire life, that I’ve struggled with, this has been a theme for me since I was in my teens, all the way up till today is, basically: I had this ambition inside of me, like, in here. This passion. This desire to create something. To shape and impact the world. To leave a legacy behind. I had something like that, right?
But it was unrefined, it was so unstructured. And I had no idea how do I take this ambition and how do I actually do something with it in the real world. And that for me has been like the defining theme of my entire life: learning how to take this abstract, ethereal, creative drive that was in there, my muse. And then, figure out how do I actually get that muse to have traction in the real world.
Because, in the real world, once you come up with all these dreams, and ideas you have, and all this lofty cool stuff: Maybe you plan to start a business, or you plan to start a charity, or you plan to go change the world in some way — that’s all good on paper, in your mind, when you’re day-dreaming it –but the, when rubber meets the road, you have to actually start a business.
You have to hire employees. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to have experience. You have to have knowledge. You have to have marketing skills. You have to be able to make money, so that the thing is self-sustaining. You have to be able to manage the whole thing. You have to be able to avoid all the different obstacles that are there. You have to know how to compete within a very competitive and global marketplace.
So, there are a lot of moving parts, right? And if you get any of those wrong, the whole thing just self-destructs. Not even that, but it doesn’t even get off the ground. It just stays like a dream in your mind.
So, that’s been a real struggle for me. And what’s really challenging about that is that, when you first start in life, when you’re in your teens or early twenties, you don’t really know how this stuff really works. And the world can be quite ruthless. Quite cut-throat. Especially the business world.
So, how do you get something going? It’s like: How do you even change the world if you don’t do it through a business, or through some amazing career that you start. It’s hard to even think of what it would be like. You need some sort of organization through which you have this change happen.
What happened to me is that, when I got my first job out of college, it was a pretty good job. I got a game design job, up in Boston. And this was my first job. And so, it was an interesting experience for me, really eye-opening experience. So, I go to Boston.
I move to Boston from California. And I’m working there for about a year. And what I start noticing as I’m looking around me, looking at the people around me — some of them are more ambitious. Some of them are not really ambitious at all. And I, kind of, compare myself to them and think about the grand ideas that I have. And I had already a lot of ideas before I even started that job.
But, ultimately, I had my own ideas that I wanted to implement. Which wasn’t what I was doing at that job. At that job, I was implementing somebody else’s ideas, right? I was like the grunt labor for some other leader. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except for me — it was a problem, because I felt like I had something to say. I had a voice that needed to be expressed. Self-expression needed to happen.
That was that creative drive. That was my ambition. But what I told myself at the time was, like: Well, Leo, you can’t just expect to go out there and create your own game company, you can’t create your own studio, you have no experience.
So, go in this career and be the grunt worker for five or ten years. Save up some money, build up some experience. And then, eventually, you’ll get promoted up the ladder, the standard career track, and eventually maybe you get to work on some cool ambitious project that you’ve always dreamed of. So, just bide your time and wait for ten or twenty years for that to happen.
The False Choice
That’s what I told myself. That was my original plan. Because I didn’t know how to start a business. I didn’t have the capital, or the experience, or the expertise. All I had was cool ideas. But no knowledge of how to implement those ideas. So, I had to subject myself into that system. I felt I had to follow that system.
But what I discovered was that, if you’re a really ambitious person, and you have a very large vision for a business, or a product, or a project that you want to start, or a novel you want to write, or whatever you want to do — however you want to impact the world — if you’ve got a great vision like that, it’s going to be very difficult for you to subjugate yourself and be the grunt worker for somebody else’s vision. Very difficult.
And subjecting yourself into the system, into the bureaucracy, into “society”, the structures that have been set up for you by other people that have come before — that might not be your best move. Because, what I found myself doing is that I was, kind of, dumbing myself down. I was taking that talent, and that — actually, the most valuable thing I had was that ambition and that creative force — I was taking that and I was just denying it, and suppressing it just so that I can be a good worker for somebody else.
And I think that, I would bet, I don’t know, I haven’t done statistics or taking surveys, but I would bet that there are thousands, tens of thousands of very ambitious, bright people out there — that could transform the world — if only they figured out how to take this ambition and actually channel it into something concrete.
And not get sucked into the system. Because, once you get sucked into the system, all those great ideas that you have, they basically become mediocre. And the status quo takes hold. And the systems, the system doesn’t fight for higher ideals. The system doesn’t really fight for truth. Or for justice. Or for beauty. Or for changing the world. Or for helping humanity.
That’s not what the system fights for. The system fights for preserving itself. And that usually means, especially in the business context — that usually means: Earn some money, entrench your monopolistic position within business, and just make sure that you survive.
It’s not about thriving, it’s just about surviving. It’s about doing the same thing. It’s about not incurring too much risk. It’s about not shaking the boat. That sort of thing, right?
But that’s all mediocrity. And what happened to me is that I was naive. And I didn’t really know anything. And so I just subjected myself to that system, thinking that — that was my only option, that’s the way the things were going to have to go. And the, eventually, I kind of had the hope that it would all work out.
But I saw it differently. About a year in, I started to see differently. After I spent a year in Boston. Because I saw that, man, you know, it would kill me inside. It would kill my soul inside if I didn’t pursue my ambitions for real. And I had this really critical decision point, where I had to say to myself:
“Shit! I can stay in this system and hope that the system takes care of it for me, but I know that it probably won’t. I know that, probably, all the system will do is lead to mediocrity and more of the same. And that not what I want.” I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.
So, I had to embark out into the wilderness, on my own, to see how I can make my ambitions real. And that’s what I ended up doing. And that led to me starting my first business.
Very interesting, that I have a client now, that I’m coaching, and he’s also a game designer. And he’s facing a very similar problem to me. And the issue with him is that he’s a very ambitious, and really hard-working and very creative guy. And I can see, from coaching this guy now for over a year, I can see that this guy has so much potential if we just took him and we gave him a company. Gave him his own studio. Gave him his own team.
This guy would produce a project that would really advance the industry that he’s working in. Because he’s got that in him. You can just tell from people when they got hat in them. This guy has it. But the problem is that he’s stuck in the system.
He’s working within a studio system, and there he has to deal with the corporate higher-ups and all the finance people. The business people. Yada, yada, yada. He has a lot of red tape that he has to work through. And that red tape is suffocating him. And it’s not letting his greatest talents and abilities come forth. Even though he’s still doing a good job there.
And he rather enjoys working there, to an extent. But, to me, I listen to him and I just think in myself: “Man, what could this guy accomplish if he just had the tools and the know-how, and he really went out there on his own, and kind of, went all in?” I call that going all in. When you just decide to say: “You know what, fuck it! Fuck the traditional system. I’m going to carve my own path in life.”
And yes, that’s dangerous. Yes, that’s risky. But that’s where the coolest shit happens. That’s where you can really make a difference in the world. That’s where you can earn your greatness. Because there, you have to be a true leader. And you can’t rely on any systems anymore. And that’s scary to do.
That will scare the shit out of you if you really consider doing that in your life. But here’s what I told him. I told him this: “If you have more ambition, and a larger vision than everyone around you, then that means you have to be the leader.”
Being The Leader
The leader, in a very deep and fascinating sense, when you study leadership, what you discover is that leadership is not just someone who stands up and assumes power. Or takes power. Or someone who has the most money and, therefore, becomes the leader of the tribe. Or of the company. Or of the country.
It kind of seems that that might be the way it works, but actually — it doesn’t . What happens is that leadership is driven by evolutionary forces. And the person with the greatest vision, and with the most ambition — that’s the person who naturally rises to the top and becomes the leader. Because that’s the person that others can rally around. They can rally around his vision.
So, if you’re in a job right now, or in a career right now, where you honestly feel that you have a greater vision for the company, or for the industry, or for the project than your boss does, or than your board of trustees does, then that’s a sign from the universe that you’ve got that muse inside of you, you’ve got a gift to share with the world.
And what I want to tell you is that it’s your responsibility to honor that. Because not everyone has this. Some people listening to this episode, this might not apply to them at all. They might not have this ambition. I’m specifically talking to people who do have this ambition, or a semblance, right?
Usually, it starts off as just a little intuition. A little hunch. A little clue. A little bit of passion that you have. It might not be well-formed. And you might not have any idea how to actually make it real. But something is there. Something is pushing you forward. And if you don’t realize that, then a part of you is going to die. And your whole life is going to be much less than it should be. And you’re not really going to live a fulfilling life if you do that.
So, he who has the greatest vision is the leader. And if that is you, then you must position yourself as the leader. Now, this doesn’t mean that you go depose your boss. Or start a fight with your board of trustees, or whatever. Sometimes it means that you have to leave the organization that you’re in.
What I felt like, when I was in Boston, is that I felt like I was a small fish in a small pond, but that I was destined to grow into a huge whale of a fish. That would be bigger than the pond. So, what that meant for me is that:
“Shit, I mean, yes, right now I can still swim in this little pond, because I’m still little, like a fish. I don’t have that much experience yet. But I can already see that I’m growing fast, like really fast. Because I’m ambitious. So, that means I got to jump into a much bigger pond. Ideally, I got to go into an unlimited, boundless ocean of opportunities, where I’m completely at the helm, directing myself.”
And that’s what I ended up doing. And it’s paid off enormously for me, in ways that I couldn’t have even anticipated back at the time, right? But that was a very scary thing to do. Not easy. And it was risky. And who knows, maybe I just got lucky and things worked out for me. In a sense, I did have some good luck. But also, I like to think that I did apply principles and I did apply hard work to the problem, you know?
And I did work for it. So there’s kind of an element of both of those in there. But either way, you are taking risk when you do that. Because you’re into uncharted waters. And who knows what lurks in those uncharted waters. Maybe there’s a Leviathan in there that will gobble you up. But if you are this type of ambitious person, what I’m telling you is that you need to stop waiting for permission.
You need to stop with the false modesty. That false modesty where you say to yourself: “Well, maybe my ideas aren’t that good after all. Oh, well, maybe I need to wait a little bit more time, bide my time. Maybe my boss does know more than me. Maybe I should just take a back seat to him.” That sort of thing.
You have to stop that. You have to honor your muse. You don’t need to bide and do more time in the corporate system. That’s not what you need. What you need is to go off on your own. And release yourself from all the red tape. So that you could do it your way. The way you envisioned it. Not the way the status quo, the entrenched system envisions it.
Because if you’re working within that system, you’re going to be handicapped for your entire career. And going to be frustrating and gnawing on you for your entire career. Because you know that, if only people did it your way, then the world would really change. Then the industry would really change. Then something beautiful would really materialize.
Well, if that’s the case — go fight for that. You have to fight for it. It’s not going to happen spontaneously. It’s not going to come easy. It’s going to come with a real fight. A real battle. And that’s why you have to steal yourself and take on the challenge of being the warrior. Be the warrior in life. Make that choice. That’s a choice you make. That’s not something that just, kind of, spontaneously happens or falls on your lap. You have to make that choice.
If you have gifts inside of you: some talent, some vision, some higher ideal that could be fighting for, and you don’t share with the world, not only are you robbing yourself, but you’re robbing the whole world of those gifts. You have to do that. You have to fight for that. So, stop holding yourself back. Stop playing small. And start thinking real hard about the highest leverage thing you can do. And I’m going to tell you what that is right now.
The highest leverage that a person like you can — the highest leverage action that a person like you can take — is to position yourself to share your gifts. Now, that’s an abstract thing I’m telling you to do. Position yourself to share your gifts. Sounds like: “Well, Leo, that sounds nice, but how do I do that?” Yes, you got to go and figure out how to do that. For every one of you it’s going to be different. Because your gifts are different . And your position in life is already different.
So, you’re starting from a place, and you need to get from A to Z, and how are you going to get there? Who knows? You can’t even predict it. Let alone me try to predict it for you. But what you need to do is you need to sear this idea into your mind, right?
This high-level, abstract idea that — what I should be doing every day of my life until it’s complete is finding a way to position myself, so I can share my gifts. So that there’s no more red tape around me. So that I’m totally liberated to do what I need to do. To let this muse come forth. That should be your number-one priority in life. That should be the thing that you’re spending all your time thinking about.
When you’re up in the morning, you should be thinking about it. When you’re brushing your teeth, you should be thinking about it. When you’re in the shower, you should be thinking about it. When you’re on the toilet, you should be thinking about it. When you’re eating your lunch, you should be thinking about it. When you’re doing some menial job for your boss, you should be thinking about it. When you’re having dinner, think about it. When you’re watching television, be thinking about it. When you’re going to bed, think about it.
It’s this thinking process that generates new ideas. And that’s exactly what you need. You need some powerful, new ideas about how you could position yourself. Maybe for you, this means going to start your own business. Maybe for you, this means selling your house and moving to a third-world country and then working from there. Maybe for you, this means telling your boss to go fuck himself. Maybe for you, this means some other alternative. I don’t know, there are many alternatives. It all depends on what kind of gifts you got to share.
For me, what it meant is that I have to go off and start my own business just so that I can raise the money that I need to then start the next business, which will be the one that’s actually right for me. So, my first business wasn’t designed to be “the one”. It was designed to be a stepping stone to “the one”. And that’s exactly how I used it. Although, it was a lot more difficult in practice than I make it sound here.
Because what happened is that I took that first stepping stone, and it’s really hard to say “no” to a successful business, once you’ve already got it. Which is something that I had to wean myself off of so that I can go on to the next thing, right? Because, as they say, the enemy of the great is the good. And that’s what was happening here.
But I did say “no”, and eventually I went off and I started Actualized.org, and that was for me where all of this was leading to. But when I first started this journey, I had no idea. I didn’t even know about personal development when I started my first business. And I had no idea that, eventually, that would lead me to starting Actualized.org. No idea.
And that’s part of the beauty of life and the beauty of taking on this journey, that you get to discover even cooler things than you can imagine right now. Because, once you move to the next stepping stone, and the next one, your horizon expands. And all of the sudden, you can see even cooler goals, and even cooler possibilities for yourself.
So, what I want you to do, right now is: I want you to imagine the pay-off if what you do is that you position yourself to share your greatest gifts. What would the pay-off of that be in your life? Think about that. Can you picture that? Ten years from now, twenty years from now. What’s going to be the pay-off? And here’s the key question that I want to give you.
And, by the way, this thing that I’m asking you to think about, about the pay-off, this is something you should be thinking about constantly. Not just once while watching this video, but, like, constantly. You need to be psyching yourself up in this. You need to be stewing and marinating in the juices of this amazing possibility. Of this vision for your future. You got to be doing this.
The End Goal
And here’s the key question that should probably spend some time really thinking deep on. What could I accomplish if I went all out? What could I accomplish if I went all out? Because I can pretty much guarantee that, right now, you’re not going all out. What if that ambition you had, what if those greatest gifts that you had, what if you shared them fully with the world? What would happen then?
What if you expanded yourself? What if you decided to transform your self? Transform your entire identity in the direction of this one cause? Of this one goal or purpose? This one ambition that you have? If you became the vehicle for that, and you pushed it all the way through, to its fullest possibility? What would happen? Would that lead to a cool life? Would you rather be living that kind of life or the kind of life you’re living now? Where you’re settling. And you’re letting the system guide you.
Remember that the system is not designed to guide you to greatness .The system is designed for the average, unambitious human being, who’s just stumbling his way through life i na heard of sheep. Being one of those sheep. And that whole heard is going to walk off a cliff in the very end.
That’s what the average person is doing. That’s what the system is designed for. The system is not yet designed for the higher virtues of life. The system is not designed to promote beauty, and truth, and excellence, and elegance. And love. And artistry. The system is not designed for this.
So, if you want to tap into that, and that’s the most beautiful thing you can tap into in life, I think, is that, those higher virtues — you have to do that on your own. You have to chart your own course. You can’t follow someone else. You can’t rely on anyone else’s course, right? That has to be self-driven. Self-motivated.
And if you’re one of those rare individuals that has an inkling of that, a seed of it within you, then I’m really excited about helping you to unleash that out into the world. That’s really the whole point of Actualized.org. All these different topics that I cover, from relationships to how to be happy, or how to overcome your depression. Really, for me, all of it is about this. And the whole point of building a powerful psychology and a powerful personal life is not that you enjoy a cushy life.
And don’t care about you enjoying a cushy life. What I care about you doing is going out there and finding that thing that you’re going to fight for. Making you a warrior. And your personal life should only be as good as it needs to be to empower your fighting abilities in this cause. That’s what I’m interested in. And I think that the most important element to all of that is life purpose.
If you don’t articulate, very clearly, what your life purpose is, and what exactly you’re shooting for, and you don’t align that with your top values and your top gifts — if you don’t even know what your top gifts are — then you’ve got really no chance. No chance in succeeding here. It’s going to be very difficult even after you identify your life purpose.
But until you do, you’ve rally got no chance. You’re just stumbling around in the dark. And so much of your ambitious is just going to be leaked out into empty space. It’s just going to radiate, like heat, and you’re never going to be able to get it back again. And that’s a frustrating feeling.
So, that’s why I worked really, really hard on this life-purpose course. The ultimate life-purpose course. I just released it. I’m really excited about it, because I think that there’s so much possibility there if I can find those people out there, that have that seed of ambition in them. And then get them to realize all these amazing, psychological principles. Very deep and profound principles that, if you start to apply those to that seed, what it is — it’s like taking an acorn, planting it, and then watering it every single day.
And you water it, and water it, and water it, and you soak it in these juicy principles. And what happens is that it starts to grow. You see it growing. And at first, it’s just like a little seedling, and then a little sapling, And then it grows bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And then, all of the sudden, before you know it, in a couple of years: in five years, in ten years — it’s a giant, magnificent oak tree. And people come up to it, and then look around it, and they see it’s an amazing, huge oak tree. Where did it come from?
Well, it all came from that seed, and it came from this watering process that you apply to it every single day, very methodically. And that’s what I’m excited to do in my own life. That’s what I’m currently doing in my own life. And I’m really excited to share that process with you. because I know that, once you get a taste of that, you se how amazing life becomes when you are growing this oak tree. You are that oak tree, right?
If life is miserable or frustrating for you, it’s because what you are is — you’re an oak tree, but you’re planted inside this little pot. And you never receive any water, or any sunlight. And so, what you are is — you’re like this little wilted, stunted, little one-foot oak tree that should be a thirty or a fifty-foot oak tree.
So, I think it all starts with life purpose. And that’s why this ultimate life purpose course was really designed to do — it was designed to help you to figure out what your greatest gifts are. What your greatest values are. What your greatest strengths are as a human being. What you actually want out of life. Because you got to be very clear on all that.
But then, what I talk about is also very practically, ok — how do we take all those things, which are very abstract and ethereal — and start go actually get you taking action on them, so that you can go out there and carve your own path in life? and that’s not just about techniques. A lot of that is about instilling you with mindsets that can make you self-sufficient and grounded, right?
Because when you’re off in the woods, hacking through the dark woods with a machete, what you’re going to discover is that there’s no one there covering your back. You got to do it all yourself. And when you’re doubting yourself, or you’re feeling afraid, or you think it’s not possible, or maybe you think you’ve lost your way — that’s when you need there principles kicking in. That’s when you need that self-sufficiency, that backbone. Which is what I help you to develop in this course, right?
And that backbone in grounded in timeless, classic psychological principles, many of which are counter-intuitive. And many of which we were never, ever taught. Not in school. Not by our parents. Not by our employers. Because, by and large, again — the system, all of that is the system, the system is not designed to grow you into this giant oak tree.
The system is designed to grow little saplings. Many, many, many of them. Millions and billions of little saplings. But not to get that sapling to grow into its full potential. That takes work from you. that takes a concerted effort. A battle from you. A choice to go on that journey. Because if you don’t make that choice, you’re never going to go.
Alright, that’s it. If you’re interested in that course, go ahead and check it out. There are going to be links down below, or at the end of this video. So, you can find it on Actualized.org. What I want to leave you with is just, again, this idea that, if you’re ambitious — you owe it to yourself to fight for that ambition to be unleashed. See you soon.
This is Leo. I’m signing off. Post me your comments down below, click the like button and share this video with a friend.