Gentle Ambition: Can The Combo Coexist?

Can we be ambitious and driven - while also being gentle and compassionate with ourselves?
Christi Hegstad June 17th, 2021

“If I didn’t get on my own case, I don’t think I’d ever actually accomplish anything.”

A new client expressed this recently, and she’s certainly not the first to raise this point. As a recovering perfectionist, former Type A+ personality (yep, I’d do the extra credit to bump up the A!), and enneagram 3 myself, I can definitely relate. Achievers often hold ourselves to an incredibly high standard.

And we can also tend to be pretty harsh with ourselves if we don’t measure up.

If you see yourself in this scenario, I’d like to offer a few thoughts:

1. Practice The “And.”

We often veer toward either/or in our thinking, but we don’t have to. Just like we can have a successful career and be an awesome parent, or be deeply purposeful and light-hearted, we can also be driven and compassionate.

Start with this belief, then see #2 for practical application.

2. Speak With Gentle Ambition.

I recently experienced a frustrating challenge within my business. Not long after, I noticed nearly all my self-talk went something like this:

“Christi, you’ve been in business for over 18 years. How could you not see this coming? How did you let this happen? Shouldn’t you have this figured out by now?”

It took conscious effort, but I began replacing the above with things like, “Yes, you’ve been in business a long time, but never at this point in time, with these life circumstances, in this exact situation. This is the first time you’re facing this!” And if that didn’t work, I’d repeat a mantra like “You got this!” or ask “What’s your next best action?” – anything to break the pattern of harshness so I could proceed with purpose.

3. Lower The Bar Somewhere.

I continually raise the bar in my coaching work and in select areas aligned with my purpose. But if you looked at the dust that exists on my ceiling fans or the current state of my closet shelves, you’d know immediately that not everything in my life gets equal attention.

I’m always encouraging you to discern what matters most. In addition, decide what doesn’t matter most, and be willing to lower the bar sometimes.

So, can you be self-compassionate and still achieve incredible goals?

can you be gentle with yourself and still wildly ambitious?


It may take practice and intentional effort, but it will definitely be worth it!

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