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Mind the Gap

leading & LIVING • Apogee Group

On a recent trip to London, I stole some time for myself at the end of a seminar – a new plan of mine to begin slipping into another "pace" when I travel – and took the sort of long walk that this city seems to always provoke in me.
 

Serendipitously, I found myself standing in front of the London Transport Museum, a glorious collection of historic trains, carriages, buses and the city's fabled black taxicabs. I had never been inside. I loved it.

As I walked through the exhibits, I re-discovered the famous signs warning passengers to "Mind the Gap" between the train door and the station platform.

Introduced in 1969, it is painted on the edge of curved platforms as well as played as an audio message as a train arrives. The phrase is widely used in transit systems around the world, from Paris to New Delhi.

But it's one of those phrases that keep replaying in my head.

In life, aren't we often too busy to mind the gaps in our life? That is, until we are jarred by an experience that suggests we don't have enough money or time; we're not tall enough, handsome enough; that we were just short of being chosen? In our leadership practice, we provide formal evaluations for executives to carefully measure the gaps between where they are and what they aspire to become; the gaps between self-awareness and others' perceptions.

I worry that we too often get stuck in certain gaps that we choose to make permanent.

I believe we can transcend our gaps and gaffs with awareness, less personal judgment of our lapses, and a guilt-free action plan. We are so hard on ourselves. A mentor, partner or pal can give us the insight to push through our perceived lapses like a butterfly bolted to a bullet, if we are paying attention and we have the courage to try. Baseball great Satchel Paige reminds us to "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching."

Our challenge: to stop constant multitasking and begin listening and paying attention. We can, if we try, become a person on whom nothing is lost. We can choose to enter our own life again.

There will always be gaps in our understanding, our skills, our judgment, in what we thought we should have happened. But loving ourselves enough to discover and celebrate our gifts gives us the deep breath we need to step over the space between where we are standing and the obstacle (real or imagined) that may stand in our way.

As we slip into midsummer, hot days still are upon us, but our nights begin to lengthen along with the reminder that time is flowing into a new season. Shouldn't we, like this month, surrender our harsh assessments and inventories of what we don't have, what should or could have been ours, and lean into the wisdom that this moment, rich or poor, fruitful or barren, is what we have? What we chose. And use it?

It's not a time for "minding" all of the gaps because in doing so we obsess about them and miss the magic of what sits on either side. It is time to accept the very gift of life; the precious moments we are granted. Will we, like late summer, allow ourselves to ripen and mature? To be open to, accept, and dare I suggest welcome our next season?

I know... it's easy to say... the transition from parchment to pavement requires courage and the willingness to trust that it will be alright to pause, listen, sort for surprise and delight, and take the next step.

We never know how much time we have. Perhaps, in this season of transition, it is time to surrender and enjoy what we have and who we actually are.

Sigh.

 

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OUR WORK:

I am often asked about our work and our global leadership Practice. We help leaders become more effective, and to produce exceptional results. We are in the Performance business.

We partner, assess, coach and support senior leaders and Board members to enhance their effectiveness as leaders and to help them take responsibility for their work and their lives, to lead and live fully. We believe that in a world of possibility we can choose to create conditions for greatness, to alter the forces that act upon us, and to exercise our intention upon the world of business and commerce. We can choose to take responsibility for our lives and our future, and in so doing, unleash incredible energy to live and perform at our best
In our newsletters and commentaries we frequently comment about the elusive path to life balance, the challenge of staying present in our own lives, the invitation to own more of our experience, to live, lead and love more authentically, and to have more fun.
 

Roger Fransecky
rfransecky@apogeeceo.com

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