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Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach is famous for impacting the thinking of thousands of entrepreneurial leaders (more specifically, he’s known for teaching others how to think about their own thinking). One of his most important concepts has been captured in a newly released book, The Gap and the Gain, co-authored by Dr. Benjamin Hardy.

For decades, Sullivan observed that entrepreneurs (and human beings in general) make so much progress in various areas of their lives, yet, they continue to be unsatisfied or even unhappy with their progress. He refers to this as the “Gap.” The Gap can be defined as measuring from where you currently are at this moment to where you could be in the distant future (the horizon). You will always feel like you’ve never made progress, because the horizon (in this case, a person’s ideals) will never be met. Gap thinking involves measuring from a specific (where you are now) to the general (an ideal in the future). This concept has broad application and could apply to having a great marriage, cultivating a successful career, becoming wealthy, and of course, improving our fitness. These ideals are very hard to achieve and thus, many people remain unsatisfied. Sullivan states that when you measure with Gap thinking, you simply can’t be happy or feel fulfilled. You feel like you have accomplished nothing because the ideal remains in the distance. We’ve all been in the Gap.

The alternative to Gap thinking is Gain thinking. Instead of measuring from where you currently are to an ideal (the horizon), he counsels you to measure from where you have been to where you currently are. Gain thinking involves measuring from a specific (where you were) to a specific (where you are now).

Gain thinking is a great way to drive our motivation for our exercise (and all of our health habits). Always measure from where you are now, backward to where you started. Acknowledge how far you’ve come and let this fuel your motivation and confidence to move forward (always inspired by your ideals, but not measuring against your ideals). We can apply this to our exercise outcomes (blood pressure, body composition, muscle strength, 5k time) or our habits (eight hours of sleep on average from a previous seven hours; two workouts per week over the last year versus a previous average of one per week).

“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.” -Dan Sullivan

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