Ambition. Humility.

The folks that I spend most of my days with are great examples of this word Humbition that’s been floating around. They’ve spent a lot of time and energy getting to the top of their field – they know a lot, have done a lot, but they are gracious when they’ve been struck with good fortune. I like this quote from IBM’s Jane Harper, via Portfolio Careers:

Humbition is one part humility and one part ambition. We notice that by far the lion’s share of world-changing luminaries are humble people. They focus on the work, not themselves. They seek success–they are ambitious–but they are humbled when it arrives. They know that much of that success was luck, timing, and a thousand factors out of their personal control. They feel lucky, not all powerful… So be ambitious. Be a leader. But do not belittle others in your pursuit of your ambitions. Raise them up instead.

And, from the Leading Blog

Humility isn’t about the lack of ambition, but acknowledging the luck, the good fortune, and the contributions of others to your success. It is the humility that comes with a habit of respect for others. Stephen Hall calls it the “gift of perspective.” It is indeed. Humility is all about perspective.

But this might be my favorite depiction of ambition…and why the “hum” in humbition makes that last panel a good place to be. (thanks to Grant Snider for another great illustration!)


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