In a 1990 interview with Vogue magazine, Linda Evangelista remarked about her worth as a model, stating, "We have this expression, Christy [Turlington] and I: We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day."
A few decades later, there are ExO Community members who will only get out of bed for work that has the potential to positively impact millions or billions of people in the world. They do this by building exponential organizations, or as ExO Coaches enabling teams of people around the world in legacy organizations to emulate the success of the world's fastest-growing companies.
Driven by Possibility
Ambition is a key driver for the supermodels and the ExO Community members. Both set their own benchmarks for success. Success is based on what is possible in their worldview.
The 90s supermodels knew making $10,000 or more daily was possible. Entrepreneurs and business leaders building ExOs and ExO Coaches know that it is possible in the world today for companies to improve the lives of millions or billions of people. This is based on evidence curated and created since the first Exponential Organizations book was released by Salim Ismail in 2014.
Ambition can be viewed negatively. It can be seen as a zero-sum game mentality. Zero-sum game ambition refers to the mindset or belief that success and progress can only be achieved at the expense of others. It is the idea that a limited amount of resources, opportunities, or success is available, and one person or organization’s gain must come at the cost of another’s loss.
For example, in business, a company with a zero-sum game ambition may believe that in order to increase its market share, it must take customers away from its competitors. They may focus on strategies such as aggressive pricing, undercutting competitors, or engaging in predatory practices to gain an advantage.
However, this zero-sum game ambition can be risky and ultimately unsustainable. It can lead to a negatively competitive environment, where companies are constantly trying to outdo each other and engage in harmful practices that can be detrimental to the industry as a whole. It can also create a lack of collaboration and cooperation, hindering innovation and progress. It is challenging to achieve business growth, particularly during times of economic contraction and with emerging threats of disruption from existing or new industry players.
Conversely, a more positive and sustainable approach is a non-zero-sum game ambition. This mindset recognizes that there can be win-win situations, where multiple parties can benefit and succeed together. It focuses on creating value, collaboration, and finding innovative solutions that benefit all stakeholders.
Exponential Organizations, and the people behind them, are ambitious. The drive to solve the world’s wicked problems, from poverty to climate change, education to homelessness, I would say they are wildly ambitious. Unapologetically unambitious. They do not play a zero-sum game. Instead, they operate in a way that creates value and opportunities for multiple stakeholders rather than seeking to gain at the expense of others.
In a world that lacks political and business leaders working together to solve the biggest problems affecting people and the planet, I say bring on ambition. More entrepreneurs and business leaders in more places solving wicked problems while creating win-win outcomes make for a better world.
“A man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.” – Marcus Aurelius.
What are you getting out of bed for? Does your work or side project have the potential to impact the lives of millions or billions of people positively? No? Then you need to raise your ambition.
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