Confidence and Alignment: Or the lack thereof

How does confidence impact our reaction to alignment or the lack thereof? In order to answer this question, let’s make sure we’re speaking the same language. If we were to ask 100 people to define the terms confidence and alignment, I suspect that we’d get an equal number of definitions.


To me confidence is the ability to move forward knowing that you’ll find a way to produce the result you desire. That doesn’t mean that you have the answer yet, but you know that you’ll find it.


In this context, I refer to alignment of values and interests. There are other forms of alignment, but for the purposes of this discussion I’m limiting alignment to values and interests.

Alignment: Easy

When an alignment of values and interests exists between two or more parties, life is easy. It’s easy to decide on a goal, a course of action, timeframes for achieving the goal and who is going to be responsible for executing the various components of the plan.

Not aligned: Difficult

While this subheading may represent our natural inclination, it’s false. Life doesn’t become more difficult just because alignment doesn’t exist…or doesn’t exist in sufficient quantity to make collaboration easy.

The reason that I make that statement with such certainty is that when I realize that there isn’t sufficient alignment between the other party’s values and interests and mine, I simply suggest that we part company as friends.

Implicit in this approach is an indication that I respect the other person’s right to their values and interests. I also respect their right to decide for themselves what they want from life…and respect their right to pursue what they desire.


Here’s an example from a program I did recently with a group of business people. I reminded the group that we were all familiar with the phrase “playing by the rules,” but that rarely was there any discussion of whose rules we were talking about. Then I asked them to consider both business and personal relationships as they decided when they were willing to play by others rules and when they would insist on playing by their own.

While the audience had a lot of interesting and very insightful takes on these questions, the points I wanted to make are that:

  • Implicit in these questions was the idea of control, but that control isn’t the real issue. It’s alignment.
  • If there is alignment of values and interests, there are no “your rules” or “my rules”, there are our rules. Because we share the same values and interests it’s easy to move forward.
  • If sufficient alignment doesn’t exist, then the question isn’t “Whose rules?,” but “Do we play at all?”

My experience is that when there isn’t sufficient alignment, the right decision for all parties is not to play at all.

For you

When you’re faced with situations in which you find that there is little, if any, alignment of values and interests, choose not to play. When alignment exists, enjoy the ride. With this mindset you’ll find that life is easy…regardless of whether or not alignment exists.

For our kids

When your kids are frustrated in their dealings with others, teach them to evaluate alignment. If the alignment isn’t there, remind them that “not playing at all” is a valid choice.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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