Would you agree that little girls are encouraged to dream big dreams and be ambitious, but when women grow up, at least some of them,  hate to even talking about ambition?

When I was a busy lawyer, I didn’t really think much about how men and women view ambition differently. But, since I’ve been coaching,  I’ve discovered men and women speak differently when it comes to ambition.

A Child's Joy

As you likely know, I’m writing a novel. Actually I’ve finished it, and now my sister is proofreading and I’m editing the story.

My character, now named Gabriela,  is incredibly  ambitious. On the one hand, her ambition drives her to succeed. On the other hand, her ambition is her achilles heel.

I’ve done some research as part of my writing. I found a Harvard Business Review article: Do Women Lack Ambition? I urge each of you to read it. I’ll share this point here.

In nearly all of the childhood ambitions, two undisguised elements were joined together. One was mastery of a special skill: writing, dancing, acting, diplomacy. The other was recognition: attention from an appreciative audience.

These elements are true not just for children, but also adults, and true for both men and women. So, read on further in the article and you’ll find a section titled: What’s Dashing Women’s Dreams?

Perhaps my novel will give you some of the answer.

My character is a young Mexican American lawyer who grew up in The Rio Grande Valley, known simply around these parts as “The Valley.” While growing up, her father,  a lawyer, encourages her to believe she can accomplish anything if she is passionate about it and willing to make the effort each and every day.

Young Woman2

After clerking for a Federal Court Judge in Dallas, and practicing law with her father in The Valley, my character is recruited by one of the big Dallas law firms, not known for its diversity. Partners in the firm refer to Gabriela as a “twofer” since the firm gets diversity statistical credit for having both a woman lawyer and an hispanic lawyer in one lawyer.

During orientation, the managing partner mistakenly refers to Gabriela as a secretary. Guess he didn’t get the memo stating the firm had hired its first Hispanic female lawyer. During her first deposition, the lawyer on the other side asks Gabriela if she is the interpreter.

Hopefully, you see why Gabriela  is ambitious. In her firm interview, when asked what she wants to accomplish, she replies, “I want to be on the cover of Texas Monthly, after being named the top litigator in Texas.” The partners laugh and snicker at her audacity.

I don’t want to give away my whole story. For now, let’s just say, while her male colleagues are praised for bing ambitious and setting stretch goals, Gabriela is chastised for doing the same. Some of the partners say Gabriela  is egotistical, full of herself, a narcissist, and those are just the characterizations I can write on a PG rated blog.

Some of her female colleagues, who also have worked very hard, shun the attention and give credit to others for their success, whether deserved or not. They don’t want to make waves.

Some of you have read or heard this story before. After coaching a group of women lawyers, I came home and told Nancy that group was my niche coaching group. Nancy gave me the jaundice eye look, but finally asked why. I replied,

Because women lawyers underestimate their ability to become rainmakers, while some of their male counterparts grossly overestimate their ability. When I coach motivated women, if I can just persuade them to believe and see themselves as rainmakers, they’ll achieve it.

I’ve coached many incredible women lawyers over the last twelve plus years. Many of those lawyers have become top rainmakers or top leaders in their firm. Many of you reading this post are those lawyers.

To those of you I have coached, both men and women, I can’t express how much I have appreciated getting to know you, and hopefully help you strive for more than you dreamed possible.

P.S. If this subject interests you, here are a couple additional articles you can read:


The 7 Most Effective Ways For Women To Own Their Ambition