Charles Pfeffer

Executive Coaching & Leadership Consulting

Exploiting the Gap: A Structure for Accomplishment

Successful people focus themselves on what they want to accomplish in life: at work, at home and in their communities. When we want to accomplish something, we set up a gap between the present and the future, in which what we want has become a reality. There is an interesting psychology around this gap: when you want to accomplish something, you spend most of you time not having what you want. It just hasn’t happened yet. How people deal with this gap separates real achievers from people who just have great dreams.

It could be said that power is the ability to translate intention into reality. The faster you can convert your vision into action and results, the more powerful you are. Let’s focus on this gap that occurs when you declare that you want to accomplish something. First, notice that a gap requires a commitment. If I kind of want something, but could live without it, there’s not much energy in my gap. Only when I am really committed is there energy. The second thing to notice is that as soon as I commit to have or do or become something, in that very moment, a gap opens up. In that moment I do not have, I am not doing and I have not yet become the thing that I want. The gap is the interval between my creation of intent and my realization of the intent.

There’s nothing wrong in the gap. There’s only whatever you have been able to achieve, your commitment to achieving more and your ability to discover what’s missing.

So what happens in the gap? Well for people who are not very effective, what happens is… waiting. Maybe for a long time. For effective people, what happens is practice and learning. Practice, with feedback on how you are doing and without reproach for not yet getting it right, is how people learn to create new actions and new behaviors that get them what they want. Learning happens when a person asks questions, tries out new behaviors and makes adjustments based on the new information and the feedback they receive.

One powerful question to ask yourself when you are in the gap is, “What’s missing, which if I were to provide it, would move me closer to my vision?” Notice that “what’s missing?” is very different from “what’s wrong?” Many people when faced with a gap, focus only on the fact that they don’t have what they want and get obsessed with what’s not working. There’s nothing wrong in the gap. There’s only whatever you have been able to achieve, your commitment to achieving more and your ability to discover what’s missing.

I find that it helps me to make my commitments out loud to people who take me seriously and will provide me honest feedback on how I am doing. A coach can do this, or a colleague or even a manager. By having someone hold up a mirror for me, I can get faster, more accurate feedback and discover what’s missing. So, here’s the formula for accomplishment:

  1. Commit yourself to what you intend to accomplish
  2. Set up a feedback system
  3. Practice
  4. Take the feedback without reproaching yourself and use it to discover what’s missing
  5. Repeat the process.

Accomplishment is accelerated learning put into action. If you keep creating big commitments for yourself and don’t get disappointed in the gap, you will demonstrate what it truly means to be a leader.

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