Mind the Gap
Have you ever been to a train station, standing on the platform, waiting for your ride to come? When the train is pulling up to the platform, you feel a breeze hit your face, hear the screeching of the wheels on the tracks, as the train is coming to a stop. People gather quickly, waiting for the doors to open and file in to find a good seat – away from strangers and preferably at the window.
As the train slowly comes to a halt, you look down at your feet. You may remember seeing the words, “MIND THE GAP”. What’s the purpose of those words? We all know not to jump onto the tracks where the train will be coming in. The phrase “MIND THE GAP” is actually cautioning rail passengers of the small spatial gap between the platform and the train as they’re boarding.
However insignificant the gap may seem, it’s important to mind the gap – in boarding trains and in growth.
When it comes to pursuing growth, Maxwell tells us that we often fall into at least one of the 8 growth gaps.
There are 8 Growth Gaps
1. The Assumption Gap – “I assume that I will automatically grow”
At times, we may find ourselves just waiting around for growth, as if we wait long enough, it will just happen. However, growth doesn’t just happen by accident, it starts with us being intentional. We need to take responsibility for our growth process because nobody is going to do it for us.
2. The Knowledge Gap – “I don’t know how to grow”
Do you have a growth plan? Maybe your growth plan has relied on your personal experiences. While it is possible to learn from the school of hard knocks, you’re leaning into accidental growth. If you’re going to be intentional about growth, you’re going to need a plan.
An old king, named Solomon, was the wisest man in the history of the world. He shared a proverb, “A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable than… jewelry made of the finest gold” (Proverbs 25:12). We should be grateful Solomon did this because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned form each other’s life lessons!
The truth is, you just need to start somewhere. You don’t need to have your whole plan mapped out. You just need the first step on your growth track.
3. The Timing Gap – “It’s not the right time to grow”
Do you know when the best time to plant a tree is? It’s 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is yesterday. The third best time to plant a tree is today. There’s never going to be a good time to start, so you might as well start now.
One of the reasons it’s best to start now is to beat the Law of Diminishing Intent. It says, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it” (Maxwell 5). Once you start growing intentionally, you can keep asking “What’s next?”
4. The Mistake Gap – “I’m afraid of making mistakes”
Growth can be messy and often comes with making mistakes. If you want to grow, you have to get over the fear of failure. Author Warren Bennis plainly states, “A mistake is simply another way of doing things.” To become intentional about growing to expect to make mistakes every day and welcome them as a sign that you’re moving in the right direction. Many people forget that Thomas Edison made 10,000 versions of the lightbulb before he arrived at the version we know a lightbulb as today. To the world, Edison failed 10,000 times in the pursuit of inventing the lightbulb. To Edison, he figured out how to make 10,000 versions of the lightbulb.
5. The Perfection Gap – “I have to find the best way before I start”
This gap is similar to the Mistake Gap, but instead of the fear of failure, you fear that you can’t start with a less-than-perfect plan. This is a gap I have personally struggled with. I was paralyzed and couldn’t move without having the perfect plan laid out in front of me. If you’re traveling an unfamiliar road at night, it’s uncomfortable. You’d like to see the whole route before you begin, but that’s not how it works, is it? You see the route progressively and as you move forward, a little more of the path is revealed to you.
God has given us a pretty good growth plan in his message to us. A great king, David, once described God’s growth plan for us as, “a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalms 119:105). So, what are you waiting for? If you want to see the rest of the plan, then get moving!
6. The Inspiration Gap – “I don’t feel like doing it”
I know some of you might have thousands of reasons not to put together a growth plan – and we didn’t even get through all of the growth gaps! If you have already put together a list of reasons not to do it, you might find yourself lacking in inspiration. Unfortunately, inspiration will not just strike you like lighting. Inspiration isn’t something that someone can bestow or force upon you. The whole idea of inspiration is a trap. You should forget about inspiration and just do it! A Harvard psychologist, Jerome Bruner, says, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” So act! Whatever it is you know you should do, do it.
7. The Comparison Gap – “Others are better than I am”
When you find yourself making excuses for why someone is farther in their growth than you, bigger, better, more developed, more resourced, etc., you may be in the comparison trap. This is a gap that you must get over if you’re going to grow. Get comfortable being uncomfortable because there’s a huge benefit here. This means you’re being stretched and learning. You can only learn if others are ahead of you, so be glad when you’re in the company of those who will stretch you.
8.The Expectation Gap – “I thought it would be easier than this”
One of the greatest reasons I’ve found as the reason for tension in relationships, organizations, and personal development comes from unclear or unrealistic expectations. This gap is similar to the Assumption Gap and without the right expectations, you will find yourself in the midst of tension. Maxwell gives us a formula:
Preparation (growth) + Attitude + Opportunity + Action (doing something about it) = Luck
It all starts with preparation. There’s been a mantra floating around as a way of inspiration, “People rise to the occasion”. I don’t believe this is true. People sink to the level of preparation. Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” By being intentional about personal growth, it will put us in a better posture to accomplish our goals and fulfill our potential.
Fill the Gap
Picture yourself standing at the train station, waiting for the train, and your eyes begin to fall and gaze into the gap. What’s in your gap? Is perfection in your gap like it was for me, or is it something else?
In the spirit of intentional growth, there are three things to keep in mind:
1. Ask the Big Question Now
Don’t ask, “How long will this take,” but ask, “How far can I go?”
2. Do It Now
3. Face the Fear Factor
Act on these three things to mind the gap and pursue intentional growth!
I want to hear from you!
After reading about the 8 growth gaps, which two do you most identify with?