They’re Unreasonable Because They Are Insanely Ambitious

It’s true, many of them are insanely ambitious. That is what makes them so interesting—and potentially transformative. They are can-do thinkers, frustrated by the don’t-do, can’t-do, and won’t-do people they often find themselves confronting.

But ambition often gets a bad rap.

The difference is that these entrepreneurs’ ambition is not about them; it is about achieving for the benefit of a far greater goal. Think of 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai of East Africa’s Green Belt Movement and her insanely ambitious plan to plant 15 million trees. Her supplier never believed that she was serious; he wasn’t even close to being able to deliver the number of trees he had promised as she got started.

Now, with 30 million trees planted, Maathai and her colleagues talk about ultimately planting 1 billion trees, moving far beyond their initial efforts in Kenya.

As the then president (and despot) Daniel Arap Moi must have sometimes wondered, is there no stopping the woman?