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Is tall poppy syndrome stopping us from acting on our ambition?

Tall poppy syndrome has been ingrained in Australian culture for decades. For every flower that grew a little too tall on our soils was the threat of someone cutting it down.

Rooted in our long-standing laid-back attitude and down-to-earth nature, tall poppy syndrome has never gotten old as a topic of conversation, nor as an excuse for stagnancy. And tall poppy syndrome can have devastating effects. It stops people from acting on their ambition and it’s holding back our economy.
 

Enter the CGU Ambition Index…

At CGU, we believe ambition should be celebrated not stifled. 

The CGU Ambition Index, a survey of ambition across Australia, is a detailed exploration of what drives us forward and holds us back from acting on our desire to achieve. 

And what we’ve found is that 68% of us still believe that Australia has a culture of negativity towards ambition.

The research also shows that almost 70% of us say we don’t like to talk about our ambitions for fear of being labelled a ‘bragger’.

Even more jarringly, nearly half of all Australians (44%), including 48% of women and 54% of millennials, say a fear of failure stops them chasing their goals. 

 

So how do we create a culture of positivity around ambition?

Cam Greenwood, Founder of Monsta Surf, a socially conscious surf brand based in Melbourne, thinks we should be more open with our encouragement of other people’s ambition so they know they’re supported.

“I would love to see a shift towards a more inclusive, encouraging Australia. Everyone needs encouragement. Especially ambitious people, they’re the ones who are actually trying to bring about the change we need.

“We need to raise more awareness of the spirit of ambition and the great things that can come from it,” says Cam.

 

Support from family and friends is also a major driving force

Especially in easing our fear of failure. 

Jirra Lulla Harvey, Founder of Kalinya Communications, a marketing company sharing positive stories of resilience and ambition, says her parents taught her she can be and do anything; Prime Minster, a rockstar, whatever she wanted.

“I have had many mentors, and many kind people have invested in my career. They have shown me that I have the talent to manoeuvre around these barriers, but that my focus has to remain sharp and my worth ethic strong,” says Jirra.

The CGU Ambition Index has uncovered the state of ambition in Australia. And it’s time to leave behind tall poppy and our fear of failure. If we start openly supporting others and having a bit more faith in ourselves, we’ll see the positive impacts of ambition ripple through our country.