In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown writes about “minding the gap.” The “gap” is the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. It’s a call to action to live according to our values and culture, and not just talking about it.
Minding the gap comes from that moment when you’re about to board a train or subway and you’re stepping over the space between the train door and the station platform.
Throughout my career, I have made a decision to place myself in that gap and help students as they make the leap from one step of the educational system to the next. As a middle school teacher and department head, I was a member of the committees that would study students and teachers as they left elementary school to identify ways to better support learners as they entered middle school. I also started a program that worked with at-risk eighth-graders over the summer before they entered high school to provide the skills and services they would need to survive high school and not drop out. As a high school teacher, I was influential in the development of a college and career curriculum that was embedded in content area instruction to help students as they would prepare to enter the world outside of the K12 classroom.
How to mind the gap
Minding the gap is actually quite simple…yet also very complex.
First, think about how you want to feel. Second, pay attention to whether your actions are matching up with your values and desires.
The good news is that we’re provided with new opportunities to mind the gap every day. As Viktor Frankl said, ”between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
Self control is one of the most important principles that we need to train to close the gap. We don’t have to be perfect. Just remain engaged and committed to aligning actions with values.
Brown suggests that this requires embracing our own vulnerability while cultivating resilience and persistence. She suggests that we need to show up as leaders in new and possibly uncomfortable ways.
Mind your own gap
One of the pitfalls I find myself often falling into is thinking that everyone else is also minding the gap and trying to align practiced values with their aspirational values.
When we see others that do not mind the gap, we can sometimes become suspicious of their motives or lose trust in them. In our minds eye, we see our aspirational view of them…as opposed to giving them grace. We expect the other person to be perfect and live up to your ideals.
This is a recipe for disaster.
One possible resolution to this problem is to think about the people in your life who help you see when your aspirational values are not living up to your actions. You can also consider when your aspirational values are unrealistic.
How does perfectionism get in the way of you living your life?
When you get defensive or upset with others, is this a situation where you are not minding the gap?