Saturday, October 24, 2015

Narrowing the gap

Are you stepping across the gap?
I've been thinking about gaps recently. Earlier this week I was in London and undertook a few
journeys on the Tube.

One of the more famous things about the London Underground is the phrase you hear every time a train arrives "Please mind the gap".

I also have to mind the gap most days when travelling on overground trains, and some stations have larger gaps between the platform and the train than others.
"I've been thinking about gaps recently."
Another gap that I've come across this week is the performance gap. On a management training course I encountered "angle theory" for the first time. Although aimed at workplace performance, this can be widely attributable to our own lives. Essentially it's a graph with two angled straight lines  - the higher line is what you might term "ideal performance" in any particular job role. The lower line is meant to be actual or underperformance. Closest to the y-axis the lines are not that far apart but as time goes on they diverge - the gap between them increases.

What's your current trajectory?
In management terms the point is that it's important to take corrective action regularly, when the gaps are small, to encourage people to be working closer to the ideal performance line more of the time. Once again, little and often is preferable to giant corrections - if only because it's more sustainable and less painful.

Funnily enough last weekend I was listening to a talk by Duncan Banks who was also talking about gaps. In particular he spoke about narrowing the gap between being the best person we can be, and the person we often find ourself. He encouraged us to take action rather than just doing the same old thing.

We all need a reality check occasionally, an honest assessment about our current trajectory and where it's taking us.  It's easy to assume we're still doing as well or as successfully as we have done in the past. But that's not always the case! For instance recently I've become convinced that my trousers have shrunk in the wash, however my wife has suggested that maybe I've put on weight instead! I know what I'd rather believe, and if I'm quite honest I've not yet stepped on the scales to see one way or the other!
"We all need a reality check occasionally, an honest assessment about our current trajectory"
It's the same with exercise isn't it? I've put in some half decent times for triathlon, half marathon and 10km races in the past, but I suspect that even though I still run regularly I might be in for a shock if I entered one of these at this very moment! Actually the other year I entered a half marathon on very little (no) training. It was fine for ten miles, in fact I was beginning to believe my own hype when I spectacularly hit the wall and pretty much hobbled the last few miles...

What steps can you take?
To cross the gap you need to take a step. And no matter what steps we've taken in the past, if we really want to be the person we dream of then we need to take regular steps towards it. But to know in which direction to take those steps, to know what trajectory to follow, we need to have a clear vision of where we're aiming for. Otherwise whatever steps we take could lead us in the wrong direction.
"To cross the gap you need to take a step."
It's like knowing which train to catch on the tube - it's no point hastily jumping on the first train you encounter - the Tube network is complex and widespread and you're more likely to end up further from your goal!

So perhaps this week you could take a moment to look for gaps. The gap between where you want your finances to be and your spending habits. The gap between your ideal health and your eating habits. The gap between the skills you hope to have and the practice you're choosing to give.

Whatever area it is, no matter what the gap, all it takes at first is a single step. And it doesn't have to get bigger, you can narrow that gap.
" doesn't have to get bigger, you can narrow that gap."

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