Where are you now and where do you want to go? And just how wide is the gap between those two places?
Mind the gap is a term that began in England in the late 1960’s and is well known by the commuters who ride the Underground. (subway) Because some stations are built on a curve and the subway can be quite long there is often a generous gap between the platform and the train. An audio announcement is played over a loud speaker that reminds riders to “Mind The Gap.” There are visual cues as well, the words written at the edge of the platform. The message: Be attentive to where you are and where you are going lest you fall in between the crack. It won’t be pretty.
Being attentive, being intentional, having accountability, and accessing perseverance is the essence of minding the gap.
In the world of life coaching, we also use the phrase Mind The Gap. Where are you now and where do you want to land? Being attentive to the gap and figuring out what steps are needed to get from one platform to the next is the hard work of successful coaching. Being attentive, being intentional, having accountability, and accessing perseverance is the essence of minding the gap.
In his book, Crossing The Unknown Sea: Work As A Pilgrimage Of Identity, author David Whyte says this about how he made the leap from his work as a marine biologist and naturalist to his work as a poet and workshop leader:
I decided on two things: firstly, I was going to do at least one thing every day toward my future life as a poet. I calculated that no matter how small a step I took each day, over a year that would come to a grand total of 365 actions toward the life I wanted. One thing a day adds up to a great deal over time. One thing a day is a powerful multiplier……Second, I told everyone I knew that I was moving toward becoming a full-time poet. I wanted them to hear it and to hold me to what they had heard. Disbelief, silence, scorn, I didn’t care. I was doing my damnedest to create a kind of gravitational field that would have me drawn increasingly to is center. 1
David Whyte was minding the gap. He was clear about where he was and clear about where he wanted to be. And he took responsibility for doing what was within his power to find his way there.
In my last blog I confessed that I was going to make rest a priority. I told everyone, (it’s out there for the whole world to see now) that I was going to work on prioritizing rest. Maybe, unconsciously, I knew I needed a lot of friends to help me stay the course. I am known to be quite willful: “formidable” my spiritual director says sometimes. (Be nice, please.) Being public with my intention is helping me to mind the gap, because where I am now is not yet close to where I want to be. But I am being attentive, every day now, and I am already amazed at how quickly I am getting the messages and help that I need.
What is it that you need to accomplish? Where do you want to go in your life’s journey? Are you needing to change jobs? Find more meaning in you life? Make new friends? Save money? Get out of debt? Feel more purposeful? Change your lifestyle? Be a better spouse? Be honest with yourself.
Name where you are. Name where you want to go. And take the steps you need to take to get there. It is usually not magic or wishful thinking that will work.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. Goethe
Perhaps small steps won’t do. Perhaps you need to take one giant leap across the gap. That is ok, too. Sometimes we just need to go for it, all at once.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes. Usually attributed to Goethe, the German writer, poet, statesman, and artist, this quote reminds us that commitment is the sine qua non of getting from where we are now to where we want to be.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.“ Goethe
So mind the gap, because life is messy, and life is marvelous.
1) Whyte, David. Crossing The Unknown Sea: Work As A Pilgrimage Of Identity. Riverhead Books: New York. 2001.