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20 Powerful Symbols of Ambition and What They Mean

Ambition is often cultivated by choice. Day in and day out, we must inspire and push forward, reminding ourselves why we should work hard and do what we do without letting go.

Regardless, we might fall off the tracks one way or another, and it can be hard trying to remain motivated and focused. In those situations, we must rely on a support system to push us into action or revitalize our enthusiasm.

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Symbols of ambition have always been instrumental in making that happen for thousands of years. Here are 20 symbols of ambition that have stood the test of time.

1. Cheetah


Said to be the world’s fastest land animal, it’s no surprise that the Cheetah stands for speed and agility.

However, they aren’t mindless runners either because they carefully survey the area and creep in close until they’re sure the prey won’t be able to outrun them.

In that sense, the Cheetah can represent efficiency, swiftness, and the constant chase for perfection. Cheetahs get things done and get them done fast, often setting a high standard for themselves.

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2. Wolf

wolf spirit animal

As a creature that is often represented with strength, wisdom, and loyalty, the passion or “hunger” of the Wolf can often stand in for ambition and internal drive.

Many people idealize the Wolf personality because the animal is never idle or lazy. On top of that, they have an established hierarchy, with most of them extremely ambitious and constantly vying to become the alpha.

3. Eagle

Soaring through the sky, above all, the Eagle is a popular symbol of ambition, courage, and freedom.

Eagles are adamant about living on their own and hunting prey with absolute precision. They are creatures with intense willpower and determination: flying for hundreds of miles and constantly tracking prey.

Whenever they spot an opportunity, Eagles will swoop in without hesitation. Even if it’s a failed attempt, they circle back up and wait for another chance.

Their persistence rarely goes unrewarded, and they are the apex predators of the skies.

4. Orchids

Pink Orchid Garden
Orchids are a symbol of ambition. See it here.

With the most common varieties of elegant flowers in purple, red, and yellow, Orchids perfectly capture the essence of refinement, beauty, and wealth.

These flowers, which mostly bloom only once a year, are prized and praised for their rarity. Because of this headstrong and standout nature, they are synonymous with royalty, luxury, ambition, and determination.

5. Gladiolus

Gladiolus Mixed Berry
Gladiolus represents ambition. See it here.

Standing in for the virtues of an ambitious and righteous personality, the purity, strength, and integrity of Gladiolus flowers are not to be taken lightly.

Named after the Greek word for “Gladius,” the flower is associated with strength and perseverance. It is said that Gladiators would often look to this flower to fuel their ambitions and muster the courage to do whatever it takes to survive and rise to the top.

6. Pine Tree

pine trees

Pine Trees have dozens of positive interpretations since they’re commonly associated with longevity, resilience, and transformation.

That said, the persisting nature of the Pine Tree –withstanding subzero temperatures and power through rugged terrain — exemplifies its ambitious personality.

As such, the Pine Tree is trying to survive and reach for the sky, never falling short or resigning to the elements.

7. Oak Tree

an oak tree

Even if the Oak Tree doesn’t emphasize ambition per se, its other qualities of growth, endurance, wisdom, and fertility just might.

Oaks dig deep into the Earth, growing wide and tall during decades and centuries, lasting through droughts, floods, winters, and summers.

As such, these mighty trees are just as qualified to represent unrestrained ambition, dedication, and perseverance.

8. Cherry Blossom Tree

Large Cherry Blossom Stem
Cherry Blossom Tree symbolizes ambition. See it here.

The Cherry Blossom Tree is mostly synonymous with the impermanent nature of life itself. As such, it fundamentally symbolizes life and death, but on a deeper level, it highlights the brief yet fruitful life of Samurai as reliable, noble, courageous, and highly ambitious leaders and officials.

With that same interpretation, the Cherry Blossom Tree can represent the virtues of ambition: courage, perseverance, service, and nobility.

Their fleeting yet graceful nature reminds us to make good use of our time on this Earth, be of service, and follow our dreams with unbridled ambition.

9. Dragon


Through numerous cultures and traditions, Dragons are depicted as mighty beasts with ferocious strength and magical powers, typically construed as forces that embody health, wealth, and good fortune.

That said, the dragon’s unrestrained power and tenacity can also be a stand-in for a person’s ambition and desire to succeed.

Besides that, the Dragon’s desire to hoard wealth (in most cases: gold and gemstones) can also denote the competitive and sometimes ruthless nature of ambitious people.

Much like a Dragon who will die to safeguard its treasure, so too will a focused and ambitious person do everything in their power to succeed and attain what they set out to do


10. Phoenix

Stained glass Phoenix suncatcher
Phoenix symbolizes ambition. See it here.

Ideally representing rebirth and renewal, the Phoenix is not a direct embodiment of ambition. However, if we look closer, we can see that it represents the fundamental virtue of an ambitious individual: perseverance.

It’s said that when at death’s door, the Phoenix bursts into flames, and from the ashes, a hatchling emerges, destined to start life anew.

Although this cycle depicts immortality, it shows the determination and resolve of ambitious individuals who view failure as a chance to start again.

11. Griffin


With the upper body of an Eagle and the lower part of a Lion, you can’t deny that the Griffin has something to do with strength, royalty, freedom, and ambition.

From Lion’s end, the Griffin embodies strength, ferocity, and leadership qualities, while on the Eagle’s end, it represents wisdom, foresight, and perseverance.

The Griffin is a remarkable symbol of purpose and tenacity, especially when the Eagle or Lion on their singular virtues will not suffice.

12. Odin


Regarded as the All-Father in Norse mythology, Odin is the de facto God of ambition and power.

As the Norse counterpart to Zeus, Odin is portrayed as a stubborn and assertive leader of the entire pantheon. He’s constantly strategizing and planning to maintain and acquire more power.

According to legend, it is said that he sacrificed one of his eyes to Mimir, the Norse God of Knowledge so that he could gain more insight and power.

This bold act exemplifies his “do whatever it takes” nature, a behavior commonly associated with highly motivated and ambitious (yet sometimes bordering on obsessive) individuals.

13. Mars


It takes courage, perseverance, and ambition to be a true leader that’s willful enough to brave the risks and make difficult decisions. That’s what exemplifies Mars, the God of War, as a prominent symbol of ambition and conquest.

In times of war, victory must be ensured at all costs, and who better to lead the charge than a general who embodies Mars.

In that same way, regardless of the endeavor, an ambitious leader sharing the same values of courage, determination, wisdom, and ambition is crucial to attaining success.

14. Athena


Athena is a Greek Goddess standing in for courage, wisdom, inspiration, and justice. Besides that, she’s also said to be highly ambitious, but unlike her male counterparts, she doesn’t resort to brute force or destructive behavior to reach her goals.

Instead, she’s portrayed as calm and calculating, working diligently behind the scenes to attain her goals. As such, she represents the feminine nature of ambition: creating positive change – for everybody involved – through hard work and perseverance.

15. Dartboard or Archery Targets


Representing goals in Corporate Culture and the act of “achieving targets” Dartboards or Archery Targets are constantly used to represent a person’s ambition or drive.

Similar to the sport: you remain relevant, successful, and ambitious only by striving to improve yourself. As such, these dartboards and archery targets stand as symbols to remind us to aim, strike, and try again until we can reach the center.

16. Cup Trophies

A Trophy with Tied Ribbons

As the eventual reward for our efforts, Cup Trophies have often appealed to our sense of ambition and competitiveness. Coupled with the fact that these are painted in Gold, Trophies deeply resonate with our desire for success, riches, and power.

Trophies remind us never to give up and always keep honing our craft, so we can beat the competition and earn something that exemplifies our success and effort.

17. Mountains

Green mountains

Climbing a mountain is not for the faint of heart. It takes ambition, dedication, and willpower to endure the harsh elements and journey through almost impossible terrain.

Besides the physical climb and the allegory of working hard, the Mountain peak represents the final target or apex. As such, you can only rise to the top (or the upper levels) if you’re dedicated and ambitious.

18. King’s Crown


Although the title of the King was considered by birthright, only accessible to those of royal descent (or with a silver spoon in their mouth), the King’s Crown can be used as a symbol to denote the journey to becoming wealthy, powerful, and ambitious.

Even so, to become “the king” at any craft, industry, or skill requires intense ambition and dedication. As such, the crown, much like a trophy or a medal, can exemplify one’s reward for their ambitions, achievements, and wealth.

19. Red Color

red color

Despite being commonly associated with love, lust, and danger, the color Red can also imply courage, passion, and sacrifice, crucial qualities of an ambitious person.

It can be a fitting color to symbolize ambition and your intense desire to keep working toward your goals.

The color symbolizes that you’re never satisfied with your quest for excellence, craving for more, even after you’ve attained what you initially set out to do.

20. Purple Color


Fundamentally representing royalty and wealth, the color purple has always been a symbol of status.

In that same regard, Purple can be used to denote ambition, particularly one’s desire to ascend to the upper ranks and get in with the nobles or accumulate enough wealth and extravagance to be considered royalty.

Wrapping Up

Symbols that represent ambition are few and far between. Even so, dozens can personify the qualities associated with aspirational people, so thanks to those, we created this list with more fitting associations.

Most of these symbols are open-ended and rife with various (sometimes contradicting) interpretations since they are birthed from cultures and traditions.

Regardless, it’s undeniable that these share direct or interpretive themes synonymous with desire, purpose, and ambition, so if you see something that doesn’t match up, our description will connect the dots.

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Affiliate Disclosures
Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.