The Key Ingredients to Launching Your Next Act: (A)mbition, (C)ourage, and (T)enacity

[This blog is the first in a new series on Launching Your Next Act with Ambition, Courage, and Tenacity. Your next “act” may be a life change, innovation or invention, or a passion project. Each blog will tackle one particular aspect of developing Ambition, Courage, or Tenacity along the path to a successful and sustainable launch. Visit my blog homepage to read others in the series]

As someone who launched out of corporate leadership into my 3rd act as a coach, I often get asked: What did it take for me to switch careers and start a business with no entrepreneurial experience? Some have said that from the outside, it looked fearless, easy, and like something very few people can do. The truth is: it was one of the scariest and most difficult things I have ever done, and if I can start a business, anyone can.

More generally than starting a business, I believe that anyone can launch a new act (e.g., switch careers, found a startup, create an innovative service or solution, write a book). Based on my experience and conversations with dozens of clients, colleagues, and friends, I believe there are three key ingredients to success: Ambition, Courage, and Tenacity. Ambition creates our why for launching something new. Courage gets us in action toward our ambition. And tenacity keeps us going when things get tough. The good news is: we can all develop and strengthen these muscles.

Each of these ingredients is worth multiple chapters in a book (hmm, that’s an idea!). So, rather than try to cover them all in one blog, I want to introduce how I think of them, and some of the questions I will explore throughout this series.


I consider ambition the base ingredient in the launch recipe. Without it, there is nothing you want badly enough to need courage for overcoming fear and risk or tenacity for enduring challenge and failure.

According to Merriam-Webster, ambition is a “desire to achieve a particular end” or “an ardent desire for fame, rank, or power.” I actually like to think about ambition differently.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with seeking fame, rank, or power, this definition focuses only on “visible” markers of success. Most humans desire some internal feelings of success too: purpose, passion, inspiration, and/or meaning. To me, true ambition blends a desire for a particular end (goal) with a particular why (internal feeling), which then can result in visible markers of success.

In my explorations of ambition, I will answer questions like: “How do you find something to be ambitious about?” “How do you know when you are excited enough about a goal to truly go after it?” “What are some common ambition-killers and how do you overcome them?” “How do you get your ambition back after becoming bored, burned out, or disillusioned?”


Once we have the ambition to go after something, courage is what gets us into motion. However, people can stop themselves before they start because they think they “don’t have the guts.” When people do that, they believe that courage is a fixed quality that people either do or don’t have. In fact, courage is among many qualities that I believe we are all born with and that we can strengthen over time.

In my exploration of courage, I will answer questions like: “How do you develop your courage muscle?” “What are some of the biggest fears people face and how do you overcome them?” “What are the different ways people can access courage as they launch their next act?”


Once courage has gotten us in motion, tenacity is what keeps us going. Although it involves persistence in the face of challenge and failure, tenacity is truly next-level. Seth Godin puts it eloquently:

“Persistence is doing something again and again until it works. It sounds like 'pestering' for a reason.

Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn't work.

Telemarketers are persistent, Nike is tenacious.”

Just like courage can be strengthened, so too can tenacity. In my explorations of tenacity, I will answer questions like: “How can putting on your proverbial lab coat help you overcome failure?” “How do you know when it is time to stop doing something “the old way” and adjust to something new?” “Do you have to be an emotionless robot in order to be truly tenacious?” “How can a sense of play develop your tenacity?”

My goal in this series is to help you embody the mindsets, tools, and habits for successfully launching your next act. Along the way, I will be sharing personal anecdotes and client stories, as well as practical tips for turning knowledge into action. Whether you read one blog or them all, I hope they help you on your journey.

P.S. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts to add to any of the three ingredients.

P.P.S. If you’d like this series delivered to your inbox, subscribe at the bottom of this page.

Stay in Touch

Sign up and never miss a blog post or newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.