Mind the Gap
Those of you who’ve lived or visited the UK will be familiar with these words “MIND THE GAP”. These were familiar words to me as I heard them regularly when getting ready to board or disembark the London Underground Tube on my daily commute. They’re repeated every time the doors of the Tube open and close, to let the passengers know that they have to be aware and careful of the gap between the train and the platform.
If you’re not used to this, the gap can be quite daunting because there’s a tendency to imagine what would actually happen if one day you missed your step and accidentally fell between the space. I left the UK many years ago but recently heard those words again and couldn’t help relating them to life gaps.
I’ve identified a few life gaps that can cause us to remain a product of our socialisation, culture and family background unless we deliberately walk in the opposite behaviours and train ourselves to think and believe in our potential as oppose to believing in our actual. Filling life gaps helps us stay true to ourselves and our individual life process, rather than becoming a product of someone else’s.
The Do vs Say Gap – This is the difference between what we say and what we actually do. A good example is a person who smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day but tries to convince their children not to smoke because smoking is bad for their health. It’s the do as I say and not as I do attitude, where the things that are said do not line up with the actions.
The Belief vs Do Gap – This is the difference between what we say and what we actually believe. A perfect example is the person who believes that something is right but can easily sway from his/her truth to meet the requirements of others through peer pressure or opposition. They know what they believe is right, but find it difficult to perform the actions when their back’s up against the wall.
The Knowledge vs Action Gap – This is the difference between having a lot of knowledge in a particular area and seeming like an expert but failing to implement the actions of what is known into ones own life. This person is very good at giving advice to others but is simply not one with their message.
I love how John C Maxwell puts it in his book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect. When I first read this, I felt it summarised many of the life gaps that we often face in our own lives and has become a practical way to measure the integrity of what I believe, say and do.
Excerpt from Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.
“Something I Know but do not Feel, my communication is Dispassionate”
“Something I Know but do not Do, my communication is Theoretical”
“Something I Feel but do not Know, my communication is Unfounded”
“Something I Feel but do not Do, my communication is Hypocritical”
“Something I Do but do not Know, my communication is Presumptuous”
“Something I Do but do not Feel, my communication is Mechanical”
So how do you Mind these Life Gaps?
Find someone you can trust who you can be accountable to. Someone who is not afraid to tell you the truth about some of the things you believe about yourself, others and the world around you. A coach or mentor can provide impartial support and offer the accountability required for you to close your Do vs. Say Gap.
Be curious about your belief systems and make sure that you follow through on what you believe, even when your beliefs are not popular. Ask yourself… What are my beliefs? Why do I believe them? What actions do I need to perform to make sure that I’m living my beliefs?
Do regular self checks when you make decisions. Ask yourself why you made the decision and what was the motive behind you making that decision? This helps you to ensure that your choices and the things you decide remain authentic and you stay true to self.
Become one with your message. This is where you get to ‘practice what you preach’. It’s great to be an expert in an area but you must ensure that you actually merge what you know about a subject, with how you manage your own life and treat others.
Make a decision not to ask people to do things you are not practicing or willing to do yourself. This is especially important for leaders and managers who run organisations. People will follow, respect and be influenced by the leaders who walk their talk and talk their walk.
Life is a journey, and just as we need to be mindful and aware of the gaps when disembarking the platform of the London Underground, we also have to be aware and deliberate to close the gaps in our lives so that we can grow and develop beyond our current state of thinking and awareness.