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For a Better Life, Close the Gaps!
We all want to make a difference. But just as you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping other passengers on an airplane, getting your own life together is the first step to making a positive impact in the world. Franklin Covey cofounder Hyrum Smith shows that what stops us are gaps between where we are and where we want to be. The first is the Beliefs Gap, between what we believe to be true and what is actually true. The second is the Values Gap, between what we value most in life and what we actually spend our life doing. The third is the Time Gap, between what we plan to do each day and what we actually get done.
Smith offers a practical blueprint that we all can use to recognize and close each of these three gaps and illustrates how it can be done through inspiring true stories. The 3 Gaps provides the concepts and the tools needed to establish a solid foundation from which you can help make the world a better place.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The 3 Gaps
Are You Making a Difference?
By Hyrum W. Smith
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Hyrum W. Smith
All rights reserved.
The Beliefs Gap
Closing the Beliefs Gap
The Power of the Belief Window
Because beliefs are such a powerful determining factor in our lives, the first gap I want to discuss is the gap between what you believe to be true and what is actually true: your Beliefs Gap.
There was a time when the vast majority of the people on this earth believed that the sun revolved around the earth. When Copernicus suggested and Galileo insisted that it was the other way around, people considered them heretics. The fact that they were right was irrelevant; and, at the time, believing the wrong thing about the sun's relationship to the earth had no serious consequences (other than personal ostracism). Had we not corrected that erroneous belief we certainly would never have had the power to achieve the tremendous scientific advances spurred on by the space program. The correct belief allowed us to make a difference.
Consider the following story.
John walks into the yard of a friend, and is surprised to see a Doberman pinscher that has never been there before. At first he freezes in terror; then he runs out of the yard as fast as his legs can carry him without pausing to wonder how the dog got there or to notice if it is on a chain.
Later, Susan walks into the same yard. She is just as surprised as John to be greeted by a Doberman. Her reaction, however, is to squeal with delight, "Oh! How cute!" She runs toward the dog so she can pet it and scratch it behind its ears.
Why such different reactions to the same dog? It's all about what I call the Belief Window.
Everyone has a Belief Window. I like to picture it as a small, clear window hanging in front of your face. I imagine it hooked in place so that every time you move, the Belief Window moves with you: you look out into the world through that window and you draw in information from the world through the same window.
On this Belief Window you have placed thousands of beliefs or principles that you assume to be correct. They have accumulated over your entire life and they are not all equal in value. Some are good, some aren't. Some are rational, some are irrational. Some are productive and some are counterproductive. The number of beliefs on your Belief Window tends to be a function of your age and experience. We put beliefs on our windows because we believe that they are true and that by following them we will meet our needs over time.
John has a belief on his Belief Window that says that all Doberman pinschers are vicious; he has accepted that as a correct principle. So when he is confronted by a Doberman pinscher, his behavior is to run, to evade, to leap tall buildings with a single bound — whatever it takes to distance himself from that Doberman. He doesn't go through an analysis of the situation. Reactions based on one's underlying beliefs are automatic.
Susan, on the other hand, has a belief that says that all dogs are cute and sweet. Her behavior around a Doberman is drastically different from John's because of what she believes to be true about dogs.
Your Belief Window is covered with beliefs, and that window governs your behavior. The issue is,
Do you have correct or incorrect beliefs on your Belief Window?
Everyone has correct, incorrect, and debatable beliefs that influence behavior. Keep in mind that in using the terms correct and incorrect, I am not attempting to make moral judgments about whether beliefs are "good" or "bad"; I use the terms only to simplify this discussion, and to indicate how those beliefs affect our lives.
If a belief reflects natural law or reality — such as "vegetables are good for people," "gravity keeps me on the ground," or "the world revolves around the sun" — it may be considered as generally correct. Beliefs contrary to such natural laws could be considered incorrect.
In addition to being based on natural laws, the things we believe can be reflections of personal values, such as "financial in dependence is important" or "I should treat others the way I want to be treated."
Beliefs can also simply be a subjective judgment or matter of opinion, such as "European cars are better than American cars," "broccoli doesn't taste good," or "I can eat anything I want and it won't affect me adversely." Matters of opinion are not easily categorized as correct or incorrect. Whether your beliefs are backed by strong scientific evidence, grow out of your values, or are completely subjective doesn't change the fact that because we believe them to be true, we will act as if they are true. The key is to identify the beliefs on our window and change those that are incorrect, inadequate, or counterproductive.
Because there is no way to print out a list of the beliefs on anyone's Belief Window, we need to find another way to determine what those beliefs might be. The only way to do this is to examine the behavior they produce. (It wouldn't be too hard to figure out what John has on his Belief Window about Dobermans based on observing his behavior pattern whenever he runs into one.) If you analyze a pattern of behavior in your own life that has negative results, you are the victim of an incorrect or inadequate belief. In other words, you have a Belief Gap that needs closing.
In another book, You Are What You Believe, I discuss more fully a model of human behavior known as the Reality Model. I will not discuss it in detail here, but will suggest that you pick up that book for a complete explanation.
It suffices here to point out that incorrect beliefs on your Belief Window lead to patterns of behavior that produce negative results. You will experience stress, emotional pain, relationship disruptions, and/or employment disappointments (among other things) when this is the case.
Let me point out here that all of our beliefs and behaviors are designed to meet basic needs common to all of us. Those generally accepted needs include the need to live (survival), the need to love and be loved (relationship), the need to feel important (have value), and the need for variety. If we are not meeting those needs, we will feel pain in one way or another. (John was no doubt trying to meet his need to live when he ran from the Doberman, and Susan was meeting her need to love and be loved.)
What is important to understand is that even though we put beliefs on our Belief Window that we think will meet these needs, we are not always correct. Perhaps because of a bad experience early in life, or because someone taught us something at an early age, or because we might misinterpret events around us, all of us get beliefs on our Belief Window that fail to meet our needs.
This is a good time to point out that determining whether or not your behavior meets your needs takes time to mea sure. Something that may seem to meet your needs in a one- time situation takes on a whole different dimension when measured over time. An obvious example might be the use and abuse of alcohol. If you believe that drinking relaxes you and makes you more socially adept, you may try that a few times; it may even work the way you intend it to. But many people have found that, over time, the results from that belief do great damage to their relationships, employment, and mental health. Remember, results take time to mea sure.
You can choose to believe what ever you wish; just remember that your beliefs drive your behavior. A correct belief will lead to good results — results that are positive and beneficial to you. In other words, it will meet one or more of your four basic needs over time. An incorrect belief will lead to bad results — results that are negative or damaging to you. It will not meet your needs over time. It's as simple as that.
Let's take another example. Let's say that you have a belief that was mentioned above: European cars are better than American cars. If that is your belief, then you set up your (invisible) behavior rules so that when it is time for you to buy a new car, your choice is rather simple. What kind of car will you buy? Behavior is automatic; it grows out of the principle that you have accepted as true on your Belief Window. Will the results of choosing to buy a European car meet your needs over time? Possibly.
Here is another example. Let's say that a belief that you hold is that you must never lose at games. If that is true for you, then when you start to lose a game, what will be the probable behavior? It could be to cheat, quit, or even throw a tantrum. It depends on the behavior rules that you set up as a result of this belief. Then the question must be asked: Will the results of this behavior meet your needs over time? Probably not, in this case. You may have to replace this belief with an alternative one in order to close the gap and create inner peace in your life.
Some examples of possible beliefs that may be on a Belief Window are:
Schools should go back to basics.
My self-worth is determined by things I own, the job I have, and the praise I receive from others.
Mom and Dad will always love me regardless of what I do.
My family will never understand me.
Men are inferior.
Women are inferior.
I'm a pawn of outside forces and I can't do anything about it.
I'm not an addict. I can quit any time.
Some people are simply worth more than others.
Any belief that drives behavior that does not meet your basic needs over time is an incorrect belief.
The key to monitoring your Belief Window, to deciding what to accept as correct and what to adjust or discard as incorrect, is to follow these four steps:
Step 1: Admit. To begin the process, you will need to admit two things to yourself. First, you will need to admit that there is behavior in your life that is causing pain, stress, or chaos. It is often easier to identify the pain than it is to see the behavior that is causing it, but most of us will get there if we are honest with ourselves.
Second, you will have to admit that you must change yourself in order to improve your life. We all tend to externalize; we tend to blame others or outside forces for our pain. We think it so often that we truly believe it. A willingness to admit that we are the problem is the key to progress. (And because we are the only persons we can change, putting the blame on others means that our pain will not go away.)
Step 2: Ask Yourself Why. You now need to ask yourself why you are behaving in a way that leads to the negative results noted in step 1. If you keep asking why, and if you are honest with yourself, you will ultimately find the answer. And the answer to the question "Why?" always comes up as a belief on your Belief Window.
Why do I run away from dogs? (I believe that all dogs are dangerous.) Why do I make jokes at inappropriate times? (I believe that being funny is the best way to make friends.) Why do I cheat at games? (I believe that my value as a person is based on winning at games.) Why do I continue to hang out with an abusive person? (I believe that I deserve the abuse I receive.) Why am I always late to meetings? (I think my time is more valuable than that of others.)
This may take some time, and it will definitely take some honest self- examination. You will usually know when you have hit bedrock, when you have surfaced the belief that is at the root of your behavior.
Step 3: Adopt an Alternative Belief. This is the part where you must get creative. You must identify a new belief, one that is an alternative to the belief that is causing your troublesome behavior. The first example above (all dogs are dangerous) could be replaced with a different belief (most dogs are friendly). You can test various alternatives by projecting how you would behave if you actually believed the alternative principle. In this oversimplified case, you would no longer run every time you saw a dog; you would look forward to the experience. (And even if you found the occasional mean dog, it would still fit with your new belief that most dogs are friendly.) If that is a better result, better meeting your needs over time, then it is likely that you have found the belief you need to write on your Belief Window.
Now, this is easy to write about, but it is not as easy to do. The reason you have a belief in the first place is because you think it is true, and you are now trying to substitute something you don't think is true. Move on to the next step, and you will see how this can work.
Step 4: Act as If. Up to this point, everything has been an academic exercise. You have examined your stress points and have tied them to behaviors that produce them. You have asked yourself why you behave that way, and examined the beliefs that dictate your behavior. But none of that has required you to change anything.
You are now at that point. But how do you change a belief that could be the product of years of reinforcement? Once you identify an alternative belief, even if you "know" it can't be true, you take the most important and most difficult step. You begin to act as if the new belief is true.
Neuroscience has taught us that behavior creates neural pathways in the brain. By acting a certain way over and over, those actions begin to feel normal. This is sometimes known as "fake it till you make it." In the beginning, it will take conscious thought to do this. Over time, it becomes easier and, ultimately, automatic.
I will promise you this: once the belief has been changed, the behavior it produces automatically changes with it. And the pain caused by the old behavior goes away.
Remember, until you change the belief on your Belief Window, your behavior will never change.
Your Belief Window and the Belief Gap
Anytime you're getting results that are causing long- term harm, such as missing promotions, experiencing unemployment, losing important relationships, struggling with your weaknesses or addictions, or any other form of missing out on things that are important to you, your Belief Gap — the gap between what you believe will meet your needs and what will actually do so — is too wide. As a result, you are like Indiana Jones, stranded on the wrong side of a chasm. You are not in a position to make a positive difference in the world, and it's time for a change.
The key to closing the Beliefs Gap is being able to put into practice the four steps outlined above. The results in your life flow automatically from your behavior, and that behavior is a function of the beliefs on your Belief Window. This all happens automatically, without even consciously thinking about it; but what you allow on your Belief Window is the key.
If you want results that meet your needs over time, change the beliefs on your Belief Window!
You close the gap by changing the belief. When the belief changes, everything changes.
Change is almost never instantaneous. It can, at times, feel like two steps forward and one step back. But as you continue to act with your new belief, positive results will occur and you will know that you have closed a gap between something you believed would meet your needs and something that actually will.
Always ask yourself this critical question:
Will this behavior meet my needs over time?
If the answer is anything but a sincere and confident yes, then begin surgery on your Belief Window.
Tyler and Jennifer Wilkinson
I've known Tyler for many years; he attended high school with my son, and was one of the best high school running backs ever to come out of the state of Utah. In my opinion, Tyler and his wife Jennifer are probably the most powerful and compelling example I have ever known of two people who were willing to close the Belief Gap.
Tyler and Jennifer have had to deal with an immense tragedy in their lives and decided that they were not going to be beat by it. They had to examine what they believed about themselves and their opportunities in the world.
What follows is their story. You will see how changing beliefs became fundamental to their lives as they evolved. As I spoke with them about the power of closing the Belief Gap, their responses were so natural and free- fl owing that I decided to let them share their experience with you, the reader, just as they shared it with me.
(Tyler) I grew up with two older brothers, who were athletes, and three younger sisters. Being five and a half and three and a half years younger than my brothers, I looked up to them. And sports were important to me too; anything I could do to impress them was a big deal to me, the little brother. We lived in a small town, and I always wanted to be a football player and a baseball player.
I always felt that I was competing against not just the people locally but with other kids all over America who were getting up early, doing pushups and sit-ups, and running. I always kind of looked over my shoulder. With that focus, I improved and became a better athlete. My dad and mom supported me in sports. Of course, they also wanted me to do well academically. I did okay; I recognized that it was important. I got 3.3s, 3.4s, and occasionally 3.5 or 3.6 maybe even a 3.7 grade point average, but if it came down to a homework assignment versus athletic practice, I chose the practice. My parents recognized that my hard work could pay off in a scholarship.
Excerpted from The 3 Gaps by Hyrum W. Smith. Copyright © 2015 Hyrum W. Smith. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Beliefs Gap, Tyler and Jennifer Wilkinson
2. Values Gap, Linda Clemons
3. Time Gap, McKay Christensen
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I picked up this book and began reading, I learned, within two pages, something I had never thought of before. Ask anyone what their long term goals are and, almost always, one of them will be, to make a difference. What I found out in the first few pages of this book, is that we make a difference by not giving up; by refusing to quit. Regardless of current conditions, tragedies of the past, or skepticism of the future, Hyrum Smith writes with convincing clarity, that we can have a positive impact in our world and be a catalyst to make a difference. We can’t quit. We must not give up. A summary of the entire book can be read at: http://bizcatalyst360.com/the-3-gaps/ Where do the gaps come in? Beliefs, Values, and Time.the 3 Gaps book cover The Beliefs Gap: What we believe to be true and what is actually true The Values Gap: What we say we value, but what we truly value shows up in how we spend our time The Time Gap: What we plan to do in a day and what we actually get done in a day Do you want to make a difference? This book might be the foundation you need to make it happen.