Alignment Rather than Achievement

This Quarter Turn was written by my good friend, colleague, and editor extraordinaire Rob Otte. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Alignment Rather than Achievement

Has anything like this ever happened to you? You’re feeling great about yourself because of something you achieved, and someone comes along and bursts your bubble.

For me, it happened recently at the gym. I was feeling particularly strong because I just did a few extra reps and added some weight to one of my exercises.

Then, this guy about half my size pops in and warms up with the weight I just maxed out at.

Oh well.

Doesn’t it seem that’s the way it goes? There’s always someone out there who’s a little stronger, or has a bigger house, a nicer car, larger bank account, a higher GPA or nicer clothes. Maybe they can run a little further or faster, have lost more weight, or retired a little earlier.

It’s a big planet, and there are a lot of people on it. No matter how much any of us achieves, there’s going to be someone who has done a little more, or done it a little better.

To be clear, goals are great, and achieving them is grand. If setting goals and achieving them inspires you, go for it. Keep it up, and keep moving forward.

I’m talking more about how a person perceives themselves, their sense of their own self-worth. And, how they define success for themselves. What they choose to pursue to live a successful life, on their terms.

Someone who makes “winning” or being the “best” or having the “most” or “getting credit” an important part of his or her self-esteem is heading down a path that can lead to some self-defeating self-talk, and feelings of failure when someone else who has done it a little faster or better shows up. And, they usually do.

Here’s a way you can be sure you’re on a good path for you regardless of what someone else is doing or has done.

Seek alignment rather than achievement.

By “alignment” I mean matching up what you choose to do and choose to pursue with what matters most to you.

Have you thought about what matters most to you? Have you identified your core values and thought about how they show up in your life? Have you developed your personal mission statement? Have you revisited it recently to make sure you remember it, and that it still reflects what matters most to you?

If you get well-aligned with what matters most to you and live that out, you’ll see yourself as successful (because you will be), regardless of what anyone else achieves.

After all, what does it matter that someone can lift more weight or run faster than me, as long as what I’m doing works for me? It doesn’t matter. If my choices and abilities about exercise work well to support my beliefs about my health and how I want to live my life, then that’s a good path for me to be on.

No one can “beat” you at being a thoughtfully defined, well-aligned you.

There you go – be thoughtfully defined and well-aligned.

Ask yourself this week:

What really matters to me?

What are my core beliefs or values that define the person I want to be?

How can I use those values to help me make choices that align my behaviors with my beliefs?

What’s my personal mission?

Am I on a good path to fulfill that mission? If not, where am I out of alignment? What can I do to get into alignment?

What will I do to get into alignment?

© 2014 Rob Otte

Rob Otte is a teacher, speaker, writer and coach. He is the Director of Corporate Training and Development for Roehl Transport, Inc. in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Roehl Transport is a freight transportation and logistics company employing 2,500 people. You may contact Rob at

Thoughts for the week:

“Every time you acquire a new interest, even more, a new accomplishment…you increase your power of life.” – William Lyon Phelps

“Appreciation can make a day – even change a life…Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” – Margaret Cousins

“Success is more a function of consistent common sense…than it is of genius.” –Josephine Johnson

“Anything that happens enough times to irritate you…will happen at least once more.” -Tom Parkins

“More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go…instead of asking them where they went.” – Roger W. Babson

Looking forward to our next conversation


7 Comments On “Alignment Rather than Achievement”

  1. Your article is very well written Rob. I agree with your thoughts. I know values are what make a person up and these seldom change, and are usually formed from what we are exposed to during our childhood. When they do change, they are usually changed by traumatic events in one’s life and are formed by necessity or new found beliefs. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This article cannot come at an appropriate time than it is now for me…just formed wats app group with my school friends..its very good to get in touch with you friends after 20 or more so years. but sometimes you cannot just stop comparing yourself, esp. with peers with whom you have spent so much of early childhood days.. but eventually you realize what matters is not how others are or how they are doing..but are you happy with what you are doing? or have you chosen the right thing which suits you? and thats all matters

    • I have an entire chapter in my upcoming book about that exact same topic. Ultimately we get to decide if we are living up to our own standards and quite worrying about everyone else.
      Thanks for the response
      Looking forward to our next conversation

  3. Very good article! I think most everybody can relate to feeling this way or comparing themselves to other people to define their success. This article offers a much better, alternative way of looking at one’s own success and is useful to hang on to and read every now and again for those people that need a reminder every now and again.

  4. Thank you Rob, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I found myself thinking I was already aligned and had my personal mission so well defined, that is, until I put on paper. I am glad you asked me to hold myself accountable for defining what I want and what I think has to be done to achieve alignment in my life. Great thought and lesson, Thank you.

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