Gap and Gain

Dan Sullivan’s Multiplier Mindset podcast has been one of the most valuable assets for me this year.

I’ve written a few times about his 4 steps to a breakthrough idea (here and here), which has probably been the most impactful idea I’ve picked up. But right behind that is the concept of the gap and gain.

To put it simply, focusing on the gap is comparing your progress to an ideal that is moving further into the distance. The gain is comparing your progress to your starting point.

If you focus on the gap, you will be disappointed and frustrated. If you focus on the gain, you will be motivated and confident.

Having an ideal in mind is not a bad thing. To succeed, we need to have a vision of for the future that we are working towards. That future ideal is a great motivator, but it is a terrible measuring stick. If you fixate on it and compare your progress to an unrealistic ideal, you will feel regular disappointment and find yourself losing confidence day by day.

Instead, you should still embrace the ideal and work towards it, but when you measure your progress, you should always pause and look back to where you started.

I often use the gap vs. gain model as a tool for reflection at the end of the day. I make a list of the gap, the things that happened (or didn’t happen) during that day that are on my mind as non-ideal.

Then I write a list of the gain. All the things big and small that went well and helped me make progress to becoming a better version of myself.

It is a small and quick exercise, but the simple act of drawing your focus to the things that went well at the end of the day can make a dramatic change in how you feel the day went and how excited you are to get back up and go back to work the next day.

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