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