Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

Mining the Gap

There’s a gift we give ourselves and those around us when facing stress, problems or disagreement. The gift is called the gap. The gap is a space created – a moment in time – carved out on the heels of an event that causes a disturbance.

If we simply react without thinking to the disturbance, often harm is done to relationships and an opportunity for deeper learning and insight. These challenging incidents and events happen to all of us more times than we think.

gap model

Mining opportunities become available when we…

  • Disagree with someone’s opinion or point of view
  • Experience physical and emotional pain and trauma
  • Feel anger because of hurt, disappointment or frustration
  • Feel passionate about something but feel no one is listening
  • Are disappointed by the actions or words of others

A Historical Example

Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, gives us an example of “mining the gap.” He discovered the gap one day while sitting naked and alone in his small room. He became aware of his freedom to decide how the pain and suffering he was experiencing was going to affect him.

“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl

Frankl realized that between the stimulus (what happened to him) and the response (how he would respond to what happened to him) was the power to choose.* The split second gap isn’t big, but when seized, can make a powerful difference.

Tell Yourself a Different Story

Mining the gap is about telling yourself a different story during the seconds after you experience a stimulus that requires a response. In the book Crucial Conversations, the story telling is described this way:

“When you find yourself just dying to convince others that your way is best, back off your current attack and think about what you really want for yourself, others, and the relationship.”

Whether the stimulus is between people or circumstances causing you to suffer, it only takes a split second to choose between mud slinging or digging for gold.

Five Ways to Improve Your Gap Mining Skills 

1. Notice when your buttons are pushed

You can’t fix what you can’t see. The best place to start when learning to mine the gap,  is to notice when mining is needed. Only when you see yourself reacting instead of responding can you choose a different response.

2. Pray the serenity prayer

When the stimulus hits (suffering, confrontation, conflict) pray these words, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr).

3. Tell yourself a different story

When I am challenged by my physical limitations, I am learning to tell myself a story that helps me mine the gap not whine the gap. Both mining and whining are a choice I can make but I find mining a whole lot more productive!  

4. Remember what you value

If you react when pushed but want a reason to change, take a look at what you value. If family and love and integrity are important to you, mining the gap will be your choice and could give you the motivation to pursue the change you need in your life.

5. Ask for feedback

Having others help you learn to respond instead of react can be a life giving support. Accountability works when you ask for it from trusting and loving friends who have your best interest in mind.

How would you rate yourself from 1-10 in mining the gap?
What mining skills lands for you and why?

* Source: Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

One Reply

  1. Shirlene Henning

    This blog is full of wisdom, being challenged to change myself, when a situation, is,what it is. Thanks again,Cam.

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