I’ve been reading a lot of Ben Hardy and he loves quoting Dan Sullivan. Both are well written and exposed individuals in the improvement space. Sullivan writes of the concept of motivation and mindset as placed in the Gap versus the Gain.
The Gap is the space of what happened versus our expectations of the results. The Gain is how far we’ve come from where we started. Most of us live in the Gap. The failure in expectations causes many kinds of complications from frustration and anger to addiction and suffering.
Living in the Gain creates motivation. It creates a world view where you are moving forward. There is always something to celebrate in that a new day is a small victor and a chance to progress over where you were yesterday.
The idea sounds easy. It is not.
One of the most entertaining movies of the past few years, in visuals and story, is American Beauty. The movie could not be done today with the awareness of Kevin Spacey’s actions and the overall tone would be difficult to capture. Alan Ball’s screenplay sparks and Sam Mendes paints visuals that draw you in.
The movie itself is about acceptance. Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, steps back from the parts of his life that are keeping him contained. He’s not a hero, by any means, but he does find his way to freedom. His death at the end of the movie (shouldn’t be a spoiler at this point) puts an exclamation at the end of the work.
Everyone is misunderstood. Everyone has wounds. When we let our individuality out, we become vulnerable. Burnham decides to chase that feeling of being alive and, in the end, it costs him everything.
Turning your back on the Gap and looking to the Gain isn’t as nihilistic as the movie makes it seem.
Carter and Aiden are friends with two kids of similar ages. Their situations could not be more different than ours. I’ve watched these kids develop over the past few years and there’s some dangerous tendencies emerging. They have a sense of entitlement that I’m fighting hard to stop Carter and Aiden from adapting.
Entitlement is a mindset born in the Gap. It can be an unhealthy driver that poisons relationships and creates false stability. A focus on the Gap creates a feeling that the world owes you something. It does not.
Thankfulness is born in Gain, in that you are always aware of rock bottom. You know where you came from and that you’ll work like crazy to never go back. You are grateful for the progress you’ve made.
Today is better than yesterday. Remember that. Have your eyes on the wins, no matter how small. The Gain inspires you to keep creating. It opens up new opportunities that you’ll see when you look for them.
The comparison game is way too easy. Focus on your race. Find your heroes and mentors. Keep pushing forward and writing your story. Do your best.
Know that you won’t have all the answers, but you will gain. One step at a time.