As we strive to achieve extraordinary things, we often get trapped in the pursuit of our ideal future self. This is known as The Gap, a concept introduced by Dan Sullivan and Dr Benjamin Hardy in their book, The Gap and the Gain.
Being in the Gap happens when we measure ourselves against that ideal, a moving target always out of reach.
For visionary leaders and entrepreneurs, the way we define and measure success is critical. Our ideals provide direction, motivation, and meaning to our lives, but they should not be our measuring stick for success. When we measure ourselves against the ideal, we’re in the Gap.
In contrast, when we choose to measure ourselves against our previous selves, we’re in the Gain. Being in the Gain means you measure yourself backward, against where you were before. You measure your own progress. You don’t compare yourself to something external. You don’t measure yourself against your ideals.
As An Achiever, I Know How Easy It Is To Lose Myself In The Pull Of The Gap And The Gain
I always look to the future and fail to celebrate past accomplishments. I tend to move straight on to the next achievement, the next goal. I understand that many other successful people share this trait. However, measuring yourself against your past achievements has enormous psychological effects, including bolstering motivation, confidence, and future success.
To make progress and step more fully into shaping the legacy we hope to create, we need to sit comfortably and confidently in the knowledge that we are already established leaders. We do not need to prove or defend ourselves and what we have already achieved. We need to focus on and acknowledge the components of what we have already achieved and where we have already demonstrated our capability and proven track record.
This step sits nicely with the work we’ve done in previous articles drawing out a richer sense of the multi-dimensional version of you as a leader and a person. By becoming more conscious of our self-talk, language, and tone, we can intentionally and consciously design lives that allow us to live and lead in a meaningful way.
Having Success As A Leader And Being Able To Contribute To A Legacy Bigger Than Yourself, Requires You To Measure Yourself Against Your Past Achievements
Capture ideas, do a mind map, jot down some individual words, sketch something, or journal. Whatever works for you, capture those ideas because starting to become more conscious of and have the ability to look back and see patterns, to be prompted and reminded of breakthroughs or “aha moments” that you’ve had and revisit them to see the progress you’re making will all be important aspects of this next chapter of your life.
To counter any negative thoughts that are trapping you in the Gap and start to shift to a place of being in the Gain I’m going to ask you to look back on where you were a decade ago and jot down four or five of the wins you’ve had in that time? What have you learnt over that decade?
Where have you grown? What goals have you achieved? What difference have you made in the world and the lives of those around you?
Now let’s focus on the last three years.
What are you proud of in that timeframe? Are there decisions you have made, commitments you have kept that you feel reflect your values and model both who you are and who you want to be? Are there things you have achieved in the last three years that you would not have believed possible ten years ago?
In the last ninety days what would you see as your three most significant wins? Where have you been consistent and followed through even when you didn’t feel like it or it was incredibly difficult? What breakthroughs or insights have you had about yourself? What goals have you made progress on?
And finally, when you look at today what wins have you already had? Even if it’s the start of your day, are there things you’ve done this morning that have set you up for a more productive and meaningful day? Here’s a little hint, reading this and reflecting on your life and how to be more fulfilled and impactful. I’d say that’s a win right there!
When you now look at your list over different time horizons and think about what those achievements and wins say about you, are you starting to sit more comfortably in the truth that you are in fact an established effective leader with a track record? Are you feeling a little more confident and comfortable in that? Is the habit of being defensive or trying to prove something beginning to feel like it’s grip on you is loosening?
My hope is that even just through doing that exercise you can feel a positive shift in both your mind and body. Try to stay in the Gain and not beat yourself up by comparing yourself to an ideal.
Focus on how you felt when you first reflected on what I was asking of you and acknowledge yourself for the progress you made as you shifted into the Gain and identified some of the wins you’ve had in the last decade, three years, ninety days and today.
It’s a journey and a practice. We are always evolving and learning so enjoy the ride!