For a healthy mind, body and business

Redefining healthy ambition for working mothers

a working mother sits at her table working with a small child sitting nearby.
Kampus Production, Pexels

By Ekaterina Ward

Ambition can be the villain in one’s story and the hero in another. My role as an expert leadership coach for driven mothers has been to navigate the varying contexts and diverse personal 'whys' and 'hows' to honour one’s ambitions.

Ambition, in its purest form, is about growth, aspiration, and the pursuit of one’s passions. It is a feeling and behaviour that connects and energises us. It's an expression of a working mother’s multifaceted identity, a call for personal fulfilment, financial stability, and setting a powerful example for the next generations.

For mothers in business, ambition is about redefining success on their own terms, embodying resilience and stepping into leadership. And the biggest one of all, it is standing for professional achievements while nurturing a family.

The paradox of ambition for working mothers

Society often presents motherhood and professional ambition as a choice—an either/or scenario. Yet, research defies this notion, revealing that the integration of both roles enriches families and workplaces alike.

The conventional narrative that women must choose between being a devoted mother and a successful professional is shifting to a new one. Women do not need to sacrifice; they need to set the rules to achieve the work-life integration they desire, and they need to be supported at home and work.

As an ambitious working mother, you can embrace your aspirations. Your desire to succeed is valuable to your business. It also models resilience, collaboration, negotiation, and the pursuit of fulfilment for your children.

Outdated toxic view on ambition

The archetype of toxic ambition, often characterised by cut-throat competition and success-at-all-cost attitude, has dominated the workplace for decades. This model, however, does not resonate with the values of empathy, collaboration, and creativity that many working mothers hold dear. I am witnessing rejection of the outdated paradigm of glorifying overwork and undervaluing the unseen labours of parenting.

A new narrative is more believable: Our contribution, added value and impact at work are not measured by the hours we work or the personal sacrifices we make. Rather, we are valuable because of the results we get, and because of our complete experience of being a parent and a professional, and the added knowledge and skills this brings to our job.

Redefining healthy ambition

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