The Richness of Life Happens In the Gap

The people I admire most share an important characteristic: they have the courage to jump deliberately into the “gap”—the place between where they are and where they want to be.

If that sounds risky, it is. Venturing into the gap can be daunting and disturbing. It often means being as vulnerable as a naked baby and unsure about what awaits you on the other side, or even whether you’ll feel safe once you get there.

Most of us don’t consciously step into the gap; we stumble or fall into it, or circumstances catapult us there: a change in our job description, the departure of a familiar boss … the introduction of a new accounting, computer or billing system. This kind of thing can be so unnerving that many organizations call in a “change management expert” to help employees adapt, asking “What do we do? We pushed our people into the gap, and now they’re screaming to get out!”

“Fight or flight” is a natural response; we are hard-wired to react dramatically to things that threaten (or seem to threaten) us, either physically or emotionally. And what’s more threatening than uncertainty and confusion?

That’s why it’s always a good idea to ask yourself in an upsetting situation, “What am I afraid will happen?” Then, to calm your fears, ask “What’s the worst that could happen?” Clear thinking like this is a time-tested antidote to the adrenaline that sets your heart pounding and your pulse racing, because your mind very rarely comes up with convincing evidence for the three-alarm-fire feeling surging through your body.

Once you’ve gotten through this experience a few times, it begins to sink in that crossing the gap doesn’t have to be fatal. If you’re fortunate, you even come to realize that it’s in the gap where you engage most fully with life and truly live “in the moment.” Some people are so exhilarated by the challenges of the gap, they jump in whenever possible. Those are the folks we usually hold in high esteem because they accomplish a great deal.

Think of the two or three best things that have ever happened in your life. Most likely, these momentous events or developments occurred only because at some instant you decided to “go for it,” even when it wasn’t clear to you how to chart the path ahead. Things like:

• Falling in love
• Extending the hand of reconciliation
• Trying for a promotion or new job
• Learning a new skill
• Volunteering

The Law of Attraction dictates that you attract more of what you focus on. Focusing on something you desire emboldens you to leap voluntarily into the gap and even more important, make the changes and take the steps needed to reach your goal or realize your dream. Merely thinking about what you want doesn’t do the trick, and if you focus on the obstacles, you’ll shrink back in fear and soon attract well-meaning advice from others: “play it safe;” “don’t rock the boat.”

It’s true that simply jumping into the gap does not guarantee you success. One thing is for sure, however: if you don’t jump, you’ll never get where you want to go.

Life in the gap can be uncomfortable and sometimes as scary as hell. But standing on the edge afraid to jump is also distressing, because we intuitively know that we’re depriving ourselves of potential rewards awaiting us on the other side! This human tug-of-war was eloquently described many years ago by the American author Anais Nin:

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

It’s springtime—jump in and blossom!

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Silver - June 18, 2015

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