Nov 252013 4 Responses

What Every Leader (and Parent) Should Look For

The gap.

That’s what I need to find—in my life, at work, in my family. I’m always looking for the gap.

It’s the place where opportunity lurks.

It’s the space I’m most tempted to avoid. Facing the gap requires courage. It’s easier to deny. But the gap should be my focus.

The gap is the space between who I want to be and who I am.

The two are never the same. If the two are identical, you either don’t know who you are or you desperately need to aspire to be something better.

I’m very aware of the gap.

I’m often not the person I want to be.

None of us are.

Every individual, family, and organization should be striving toward improvement.

The best opportunity is found in the gap.

Thankfully, with a little attention, the gap makes itself known on a daily basis. We fail. We experience regret. We consider how we should’ve done things differently. This is the gap.

Once we identify a space between who we are and who we want to be, we need to take action steps to narrow the gap.


  • How you wish you would’ve responded.
  • What would’ve been the wisest choice?
  • What would your hero have done?
  • In a perfect scenario, what would have happened?

By considering the best case scenario, we can contrast it with what actually happened.

Did you:

  • Fail to tell the truth?
  • Lose your temper?
  • Downplay your emotions?
  • Lack courage?

Recognize it. Admit it. Choose a different path next time.

The power of this process is what happens over time. Eventually, you will find yourself asking the question “Who do I want to be?” before you act.

The best organizations do this. Before a decision is made they consider their mission, vision and values. They reflect on who they want to be and then choose to be that. It doesn’t happen with perfection. They fail. Yet more often than not they think then act.

The worst organizations do the opposite. They act and then think. Action is never filtered through the lens of value. Values are always used in reflection of what has happened instead of in anticipation of what is about to take place.

What’s true of good organizations is true of good families and people. Values determine action. Who we want to be determines who we are.

Find the gap. Give it attention. Start asking “Who do I want to be?” before you act.

This is how we develop character and character determines everything.

It’s Monday. Who do you want to be? Be that.

4 Responses to What Every Leader (and Parent) Should Look For
  1. Rebecca Dickens Reply

    One of my favorite songs is by Selah and one of the lyrics says, “When there’s a distance between what I am and who I want to be, You deliver me…” Your article today is encouraging; as well, and I am habitually stunned that God has patience with me and my gaps.

  2. […] Sometimes this is good and sometimes it’s bad. (See: What Every Leader Should Look For) [R...
  3. […] 9. Find the gap between who you are and who you want to be. (See: What Every Parent Should Look For)...
  4. Justin Digney Reply

    Hi Kevin,

    It is really easy to agree with this post, except when I consider my gaps. Filling those gaps means becoming the person I don’t want to be!

    Okay, hard to grasp without an example. I am currently unemployed. I have been made redundant 3 times. I have been fired once (end result of being bullied), and quit once (end result of being bullied). So of those 5 jobs I experienced massive clashes between my ethical standards and those of the organisation. The organisations clearly won in every case.

    In all of these roles I was paid significantly less than people in similar roles with similar qualifications within the same company at the same location. All of them my moral convictions (as well as my general demeanor) is considered black and white. While I have worked on my interactions with others, the gap still remains my moral/ethical standards far exceed those of the organisations I have worked for.

    So I have the choose of filling the gap and adopting a more flexible ethical standard! One where I behave like everyone else and sway with social and corporate pressure to conform. Much of the work I see you do is trying to fill the gap in society – not just the gaps I see and try to fill in myself.

    My lack of desire to fill my gap may be considered a virtue by some, it is seen as stupidity by most, and it is seen as torture by me.

    It still leaves me, jobless with zero motivation to find another job (just to endure more of the same punishment). It also makes it easy to become inflexible and to rest the unrealistic social norms, rules and expectations, cast down by those who seek to judge others and use them to make themselves look good or become wealthy (both).

    Gaps lie on both sides of the fence (those we can control and those we can’t). Aligning ones interest, skills and ethics with a purpose and meaning is not easy. That’s after you have actually worked out what they are!

    But I do really like your reflection on the mission, vision and values. It reminds me of when I was chair of a sustainability committee, I proposed we write a mission vision and value for our committee to help us keep focused when making important decisions. I looked at the role of each committee member are tailored a paragraph to guide each individual role.

    Another member was a lot more practical and dispensed with all the theory and looked at what “business” does and came up with a few throw away line ‘slogans’!

    Popular vote saw my proposals put aside, my ability to influence people is still a gap, but it is quickly rising to the top of things I need to work on. (Note: it wasn’t until I actually when I actually looked up the difference between influence and co-hearse that I realized it didn’t have the definition I thought it did), perhaps giving myself a green light to fill that gap.

    Being ethical has it’s challenges and some of the finer nuances of understanding concepts is one of them!


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