The Gap

The GapLately I’ve been noticing that the more you know about something, the less highly you judge your expertise or skill level in that area.

It always strikes me when someone I consider to be unfit says, “I’m fit enough” or “I’m of average fitness,” or “I really don’t need to workout.” I know that in their minds they are fit enough because they can do the things they want to do (and they really don’t want to ride 20km or lift weights), they usually don’t look overweight, and their doctor hasn’t mentioned any serious health risks. Their ‘gap’ between what they know-and-want and know-and-have is small.

But once you know what you and your body are capable of, and learn of new skills, you start to see how much you can’t yet do. Therefore, the fit person who walks or runs or bikes or lifts is also looking at the bigger gap between what they can do now, and what they want to be able to do later. So they often rate themselves as “less fit” or “not fit enough” or “below average fitness” even though most of the people around them would contest that statement.

The same seems to hold true of almost any skill set. Once you start to see what is involved and you want to get better at it, you start to recognise your weaknesses, but this is primarily because you are starting to see the gap you want to fill, surpass, or overcome.

I think it’s easy to try to fill the gap up with more knowlege, to convince yourself that ‘this next article/blog/book/study will give me the one tip I need to become an expert and it will all fall into place,’ but I believe this only contributes to making the gap seem bigger as you get cluttered up with a million bits of data, tips, hints, and ideas, and no clear starting point.

Although there’s nothing wrong with recognsing the gap, looking across for inspiration (big goal setting champ that I am, I know this is a motivating tool), I think we can get bogged down in the details. Taking action is the next big challenge. Knowing that you want to cross the chasm and then figuring out where to start to building the bridge to get there.

As GI Joe so aptly put it:

Knowing is half the battle.

I would like to add:

DOING is the other half.

Right now, I find myself standing at a gap that seems a bit overwhelming in both fitness and leadership.

Logically, I know that I can do both (be a great leader at work and be a great example of health and fitness) and that there is a balance to be struck. Logically, I know that my health is important, and that I will be more productive and energised in both these areas if I keep actively pursuing improvement in my physical and mental health.

I have been very much into the ‘knowing’ part of this cycle: I have read a lot on fitness, leadership, organisation, teamwork, coaching, happiness, simplicity, … you name it I’ve been soaking it up. It’s interesting! It’s inspiring! It makes me want to know more and do more! Unfortunately, it’s starting to be a procrastination tool. I keep looking for more information, filling time with more research, rather than getting on with it and doing what I know I should be doing.

I believe it is time to move on to a new part of the cycle: acting on the knowledge I do have. It’s time for me to take the advice I would give my own clients: ‘start with one small change, and build from there.’

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