Living in the Gain, Not the Gap

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the book The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. Cracking it open to see what everyone was talking about, the initial takeaway on unlocking happiness that Sullivan shares is powerful…

On a piece of paper, write the word “Start“ at the bottom, “Ideal“ at the top, and “Achieved“ in the middle. “Start” is somewhat obvious. It’s where we’re starting from. “Ideal” represents the goal or target we’re working toward. “Achieved” represents the progress we’ve made to achieve whatever we’ve defined as ideal.

Simply put, here’s the challenge we’re all facing… We can look at what we’ve achieved through the lens of what is Ideal. When we do that, all we see is where we didn’t measure up. Sullivan calls this the Gap. The other option we have is to see what we’ve achieved through the lens of where we started. When we do that, we see our progress. Sullivan calls this the Gain.

When we measure ourselves against our Ideal, we can easily fall into a rut of disappointment, seeing what we achieved as a failure when we don’t accomplish our full Ideal. We can also step onto the “treadmill of comparison,” measuring what we’ve achieved against other people’s ideals. Both are equally dangerous, focused on what we don’t have. Remember that our version of the Ideal is often unrealistic, and those unrealistic expectations can leave us in the Gap.

There’s another option.

When we can look at what we’ve achieved and compare it to where we started, everything changes. We can live in the Gain if we look at our achievements through that lens. By seeing what we’ve achieved over time and the growth we’ve created since we started, measuring against our previous selves, we place ourselves in a position where we can celebrate our accomplishments. We place ourselves in a space where we can focus on what we DO have, and that’s where gratitude and happiness live. It’s also where fulfillment begins.

“There’s a science to achievement, but an art to fulfillment; and achievement without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. The Gap and the Gain is a powerful concept that empowers the reader to have access to fulfillment throughout the journey of achievement. This energy of fulfillment is medicine for the mind, body, and soul.”
– Kien Vuu, M.D., The Performance and Longevity Doctor

So what do we do with this concept of the Gap and the Gain? First, in your teams, stretch yourselves and set your version of Ideal. Then, learn to look at your progress and achievements through the Gain lens. Personally and in your relationships, do the same. Find ways to focus on how far you’ve come and the Gains you’ve made since you started, not the Gap between what you’ve achieved and your Ideal.

To be clear, we’re just a little way into reading this book, and there is so much more to learn here. We’re excited to see where that leads. Want to read The Gain and the Gap for yourself? You can find it here.


Spend some time looking at the space between where you started and what you’ve already achieved, both in your teams and personally. Then, celebrate your progress as you continue moving toward your Ideal. Remember that the Gain is more fulfilling than the Gap and that, as Dr. Vuu shared, “Achievement without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” Focus on the Gain.

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