“Gaps in our lives drain the power needed to make a positive difference in the world.” ~ Hyrum Smith
“Inner peace is having serenity, balance and harmony in our lives achieved through the disciplined closing of gaps.” ~ Hyrum Smith [The 3 Gaps: Are You Making A Difference?]
The 3 Gaps
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child . . .”[1 Corinthians 13:11a (New King James Version)] I believed many things as a child that I have since found to be either untrue, unfounded or unhelpful. I believed in Santa Claus much longer than most of my classmates. I believed that there was a physical place up above the clouds – Heaven – that was ruled over by God, a giant man in a great white cloak. I believed in fairies and elves and sometimes saw signs of them in the woods above my home. I believed that if I stepped on a crack I’d break my mother’s back and that if a frog peed on my hand, I’d get warts. You probably believed some of these yourself.
These are beliefs that (I hope) are now obviously untrue, unfounded or unhelpful. But what about beliefs that you and I now hold that may be just as untrue and unhelpful but maybe not so obvious.
Cognitive dissonance is “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”
“In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance]
When you identify and then close the gaps in your life, you quieten the cognitive dissonance and the accompanying stress, and you can begin to “take control of yourself, your life and to make a huge difference in the world around you . . .” [Smith] According to Hyrum Smith, the biggest gaps and the ones that yield the most benefit when we close them are the Beliefs Gap, the Productivity Gap, and the Values Gap.
The Beliefs Gap
Smith uses the metaphor of the “belief window”. Imagine that we go through life looking through a window that is always before us. On this window, we put things like natural laws, personal values, and opinions. Some of these are correct, some are incorrect. Here’s the thing. We forget we’re looking through a window – we think we are seeing “reality”, the world as it is. But we’re seeing the world filtered through the stuff stuck on our belief window. And because we believe them to be true, we act as if they are true.
Remember some of these laws, values and opinions are correct; some are incorrect. How do you distinguish between them? “Any Belief that drives behavior that does NOT meet your basic needs OVER TIME is an Incorrect Belief.” [Smith] So pay attention to the results you are getting with your life. Then ask yourself: “Do the results of this belief meet my needs over time?” If the answer is Yes, this is a correct belief. But if the answer is No, this is an incorrect belief and you need to close the gap.
The Productivity Gap
Where do you spend your time? Where do you want to spend your time? To the extent that you spend time doing things you don’t really want to do with people you don’t really want to be with instead of doing what you want to do with the people whom you want to spend time with . . . you have a Productivity Gap. “Time,” says Hyrum Smith, “is the occurrence of events in sequence one after the other.” “Time management” is a misnomer. What we’re really after is “Event control”. In life, there are some things over which we have no control. We call these “other people”. There are some things and events over which we have varying degrees of control. And there is one thing over which we have total control — ourselves.
When you take about 15 minutes each morning (or the night before) to plan your day, you are exercising your power of total control. Smith calls this planning time the “Magic 15 Minutes”. If you use this planning time to move toward doing more of what you want to do (based on your beliefs and values), you begin to close the gap.
(For a deeper look at a planning technique based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, check out my e-book, The Zen Of Productivity.)
The Values Gap
“The state of harmony between what you value and what you do will lead to inner peace. This can only be achieved when we reach down deep into our inner core and find out what matters to us. If we don’t do this, we will be living in the reactive and not the proactive world. People that live in the reactive world live out of control lives.” [Smith] When there is a gap between how you actually live and how you want to live in accordance with what you value, you experience the pain of cognitive dissonance. To the extent you can close this gap, you experience inner peace. Smith proposes a 3 step process for closing the Values Gap.
- You must start by defining what your governing values are. Governing values are one’s highest priorities.
- Write a clarifying statement that exactly describes what each value means to you.
- Prioritize your values . . . which is most important, which is next most important, etc. This becomes necessary when values come into conflict.
Knowing your values isn’t enough to bring inner peace. You must also live out your values in the things you choose to do, the people you choose to be with, and the way you choose to spend your time. As you look at your life today, does it reflect your governing values? If it does not, you need to begin closing the gap.
(For an exercise in clarifying and prioritizing your values, check out the Valid Values Excelerator.)
Closing the Gaps
Are you standing in one or more of these gaps? Which one could bring you the most benefits if you closed it a bit? Maybe you need to play at closing all three? Choose one and consider things you can do to close the gap. But don’t just think about it — take action today. Wisdom, according to Hyrum Smith, is knowledge rightly applied. What have you learned about your gaps & how can you apply this knowledge to your life? Closing the gaps — now that’s living the Excelerated life!
Dealing with the things you’ve been tolerating is one step in creating your Excelerated life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
Smith, Hyrum W. and Richard L. Godfrey. The 3 Gaps – Are You Making A Difference? Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015