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3 Ways to Foster Ambition in Your Teen Students

Watch Reed aka Samuel Reed III on fostering ambition in the classroom below!

Ambition is a strong desire and will to achieve something, often requiring hard work, and it's a powerful motivator for teens. Reed aka Samuel Reed III, Founding Educator at The U School in Philadelphia and business coach at Sriiiconsulting, notes that "ambition is the spark that fuels self-discovery, success, and the pursuit of passions." This innate drive can profoundly motivate adolescents. Furthermore, educators possess the potential to act as influential catalysts in fostering constructive ambition among their students.

Ambition, Misunderstood

Ambition often gets a bad rap. "Ambition, at its core, is the desire to achieve and the willingness to strive for goals. However, it's frequently misconstrued as selfishness or an aggressive pursuit of success at the expense of others," says Reed. "This can make students unwilling to embrace ambition as a motivating principle. I've discovered that challenging this assumption by advocating for humble yet passion-driven goals can be a game changer. I encourage my students to embrace their ambitions while leaning into empathy and humility. I’ve created Finterns (Financial Hustle Interns), roles for in-school and out-of-school projects for my students." (Check out Reed's blog where one of my finterns interviewed me.)

Watch Sam Reed discuss fostering ambition in the classroom!

 1. Promote Having A Clear Why 

"We can offer inspiring examples of positive ambition and its role in achieving personal and community goals. I help all my students develop why statements." (See Reed's blog for further tips on why statements.) 

2. Support Individual Interests with Vision Boards 

"By taking an interest in students' passions, we can help them set ambitious goals aligned with their interests. I help my students develop vision boards." (See Reed's blog or The Life Builder Curriculum and LBL videos for lessons on creating vision boards with teen students.) 

3. Foster a Safe Environment, Celebrate Failures. 

"We can encourage an atmosphere where ambitious goals are supported and expected, while diminishing the fear of failure. I encourage my students to rise from failures and push back against stereotypes." (See The Life Builder Curriculum and LBL videos for lessons on reframing failure.)

Hands-On Experiences Cultivate Ambition

One of the most effective ways to build upon the idea of ambition is through hands-on experiences that allow students to explore, fail, learn, and succeed. My Sustainable Side Hustle Program is a prime example of this approach. Incubated during the peak of COVID-19, this initiative was inspired by a Design Thinking Creative Exchange Program. It aims to propel young entrepreneurs (14-18) toward economic empowerment by offering sponsorships and $200 start-up funds. By so doing, we’re making a bold statement: Ambition, coupled with the right support, can turn dreams into reality. This program is not just about funding; it's about mentorship, learning through doing, and building a supportive community that believes in the power of young minds. That's catalytic.

Support Ambition and Self-Discovery for Your Students

Explore the free educator tool below and get the comprehensive Life Builder Lab curriculum for future readiness at

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