A LinkedIn message exchange with Paul Hamilton got me thinking about the difference between 'Intentions' and 'ambitions'. I believe that there are some subtle but significant differences between the two words.
1. Ambitions happen in the future tense. Although you may set an ambition in the present moment, it implies that it wont happen till later. Working with ambitions is perfect when helping execs to set strategy. When you set an intention it can be micro (a moment or day changing intention), Nested, Core or Mega. Micro intentions can be immediate. Other intentions start to take shape from the moment you set them, so to me intentions are always in the present moment.
2. When you think of rituals around Christmas, weddings and funerals (see my article on rituals) it is intention that underpins them and guides our action and adds power to them. When did you last set an ambition for a great Christmas or Wedding? You are more likely to have set a conscious on unconscious intention to have a happy Christmas or an amazing wedding day.
3. Ambitions can sometimes be contaminated by societal pressure and pressure from family and your social set. Intentions are highly personal and based on a deep sincere desire. Ambitions sometimes have a rather loftier, less personal feel to them.
4. You hear of people doing amazing, seemingly impossible things sometimes sometimes - like the mother who lifts a car when her child is trapped under it with the intention of saving her child. Think also of the placebo effect - someone has an intention to get better and does so by taking tablets that they think will make them better but actually has no active ingredient to do so.
Intention evokes a more powerful response than an ambition. I also think there is almost certainly more at play when one sets an intention than the neuroscience I explain in Intention Matters - but the neuroscience is a great place to start!