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  • Writer's pictureMatt Symes

The Three A's of Alignment

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

The Lead Yourself First newsletter is a deep dive into what keeps leaders healthy and performing at their peak. Every fourth week, I'll distill one or more points to help you prioritize self-leadership and personal growth.

Man walking in nature during the early morning hours

From Santiago with Love - The Three A’s of Alignment

When my first daughter was born, the world changed. It’s cliche to say, but it was honestly the first time I was especially cognizant of my own mortality. My own journey with health and wellness had begun a year earlier, but now the motivation was in my arms.

Life is about alignment. A surefire recipe for mental anguish occurs when what I say I want doesn’t align with what I’m doing.

The #1 coach in the world, Marshall Goldsmith, has an incredibly powerful and simple model to create and maintain this critical, yet fickle, alignment.

My Aspiration: To say yes to life. Increase my health span. To be mentally and physically able to join my daughters in the activities they love, and see the world through their eyes.

My Ambition: To Run 8 marathons on 8 continents (yes, Zeelandia is its own continent now), run the Abbotts Majors, and to battle father time in an effort to break 3 hours in the marathon.

My Actions: Run. A lot. Never less than 100 miles/month and most of the time in Zone 2 (the heart rate) and sometimes in Zone 5. And to increasingly strength train (which right now is nothing more than 5x30 pushups/day but does need to extend)

If you’re reading this Sunday morning, I’m likely somewhere in the pain cave on the 26.2 mile route through Santiago de Chile. The 3rd Continent on the journey.

Aspiration is the infinite game - what you are always becoming.

Ambition is a finite game - the quantifiable goals.

Actions are the inputs - the controllable efforts.

The system relies on all three. Your Aspiration connects to your why. Your Ambitions quantify the goals that tell you you’re driving the outcomes in alignment with your aspirations.

The actions are what you control - you live 99.99% of your life here, and you have 100% control over those. And they are the glue of the system.

Much of life’s struggles come from the misalignment between your aspirations, your ambitions, and your actions.

I’m grateful to Marshall Goldsmith, in his book Earned Life, for the Triple-A model of Aspiration, Ambition, and Action.

The model can be easily applied to any part of your life. But I hope this inspires you to write down and crystallize your three A’s of alignment around your own health.


PS - If you want to dive further into important insights and strategies for pushing through growth challenges and scaling up your organization, check out the latest Racki & Symes podcast.



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