The Gap and the Gain cover

The Gap and the Gain - Book Summary

The High Achievers' Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success

Duration: 22:50
Release Date: October 28, 2023
Book Author: Dan Sullivan with Benjamin Hardy
Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mindfulness & Happiness, Career & Success
Duration: 22:50
Release Date: October 28, 2023
Book Author: Dan Sullivan with Benjamin Hardy
Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mindfulness & Happiness, Career & Success

In this episode of "20 Minute Books", we journey through the empowering teachings of "The Gap and the Gain". Crafted by renowned author Dan Sullivan, cofounder of Strategic Coach, and Benjamin Hardy, an esteemed organizational psychologist, this book guides us towards self-discovery and reinventing our perceptions of success.

"The Gap and the Gain" (2021) is a practical guide that teaches you to locate fulfillment within yourself, challenging the need for constant external approval. By helping you set your personal success standards and measure your progress retrospectively, the book encourages you to appreciate your advancements and stimulates renewed motivation in every life segment.

With over 50 published articles revealing the secrets of entrepreneurial success, Dan Sullivan brings years of experience to this transformative text. Co-author Dr. Benjamin Hardy, an organizational psychologist with best-sellers like "Willpower Doesn't Work" and "Personality Isn't Permanent" to his name, further enriches the text with his profound psychological insights.

This book is an essential read for entrepreneurs who need a motivational push, business individuals who despite their accomplishments feel unfulfilled, and those who tend to ruminate persistently, yet aspire to cultivate positive thinking. Turn the pages of "The Gap and the Gain" to redefine your success journey and uncover fulfillment within. Join us as we summarize this insightful read in just 20 minutes.

Unlock your joy: Discover the art of not pursuing happiness but living it

In the historical document that shaped America, the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, he declared that every American citizen has the entitlement to "the pursuit of happiness."

Jefferson's choice of words here paints an interesting picture – happiness as a quarry to be hunted, an elusive target to be captured. Over centuries, this interpretation has solidified into a societal belief.

You might find yourself believing that happiness is a corner office, a hefty paycheck, or a picture-perfect family. But these milestones keep shifting, morphing, and extending farther, leaving you continually grasping at an elusive sense of satisfaction.

The root of the problem lies in our collective mindset. Happiness shouldn't be portrayed as a relentless hunt; it should be seen as an immediate choice, available here and now, irrespective of the external circumstances.

Our summary aims to guide you towards this transformative understanding.

Throughout this summary, you will discover:

— how to greet each sunrise with rejuvenated vigor and enthusiasm;

— why nurturing an optimistic mindset could potentially add years to your lifespan; and

— how to reimagine challenging experiences as platforms for self-growth.

Claim your happiness: It's an inside job

Dan Jansen is a name etched in the annals of speed skating history. At a tender age of 16, in 1984, he participated in the Winter Olympics, coming close to tasting the glory of a medal but missing it by a hairbreadth.

In the ensuing decade, despite demonstrating his exceptional prowess time and again, the coveted gold medal at the Olympics proved elusive. Come 1994, and Jansen decided to give it one more shot at Lillehammer, Norway. However, his performance didn't match up to his potential in the races he usually dominated.

The 1,000-meter sprint was the only race left. Although Jansen's chances of winning seemed minimal, he approached it with a different mindset. As he positioned himself at the starting point, he didn't focus on the potential defeat but on the treasures his career had brought him: the mentorship of his dedicated coaches, the places he traveled, and the sheer joy of skating.

The central idea here is: Claim your happiness—it's within your grasp.

In a symbolic farewell to his enriching career, Jansen decided to dedicate his final race to his gratitude for the speed skating world.

With a radiant smile lighting up his face, he skated not just for victory but also for joy—and he didn't just win, he shattered a world record! His positive mindset propelled him to a positive outcome.

Adopting this mental approach can be challenging for many high achievers. They often mistake misery for motivation, believing that contentment can stifle their hunger for success. This belief, however, is fundamentally flawed.

Multiple studies indicate that being in a positive mental state boosts performance. It instills confidence, sparks creativity, and equips you with the flexibility to adapt to changing situations.

On the contrary, stress and negativity push you into survival mode, curtailing creative and out-of-the-box thinking. It also takes away the joy from your work, causing a steady decline in your internal motivation.

Jansen's success lies in his understanding that happiness isn't contingent on winning. His desire for victory was strong, but his joy was deeply rooted within. His happiness was intrinsic.

By searching for happiness outside, you surrender your power. Life becomes a relentless pursuit of the objects of your desire. But to experience true happiness, you needn't rely on external factors or individuals. Happiness can be your choice—right here, right now—through embracing and appreciating your life just as it is.

Halt the comparison game: Craft your personal yardstick for success

Ever found yourself burning with envy while aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, marveling at your friend's exotic vacation to Thailand, or swooning over your cousin's grand wedding?

If your answer is yes, you are playing right into the hands of the creators of platforms like Facebook and Instagram. These social media giants are intentionally designed to fuel your constant comparison with others and breed FOMO - the fear of missing out on experiences others seem to enjoy.

These platforms succeed in making you feel inadequate, pushing you into the GAP—a sense of discontentment stemming from a perceived inability to match up to an imposed ideal.

Why does social media orchestrate such a scenario? The answer lies in consumerism. If you feel a sense of lack, you are more likely to purchase goods to fill that void. Essentially, social media platforms toy with your emotional well-being to make you a more profitable customer.

The essential idea here is: Halt the comparison game.

Contrary to what social media might suggest, comparing yourself to others is an exercise in futility. It stirs in you a craving for external symbols of success—like a plush house or a lavish car. However, no acquisition, no matter how extravagant, can truly satiate your soul.

The key to experiencing genuine happiness and fulfillment lies in adhering to your personal standard of success.

But what defines this standard? If you're struggling to answer this question, you're not alone. Reflecting on your past, it's probable that your teachers or parents never asked what you held dear or how you, personally, gauged success during your school years.

Your milestones were perhaps primarily external—scoring well on standardised tests or winning a sports event, for instance.

As an adult, you are gifted with the privilege of self-determination. You have the power to define what truly matters to you.

Invest time in this exploration. Identify ten defining features that signify success to you. Keep in mind that your list would be unique—it wouldn't mirror anyone else's. And therein lies its power.

Does your version of success revolve around spending ample time with your loved ones? Or does it mean having the liberty to set off on impromptu travels? Strive to make your list as precise as possible.

The next time you're considering a job offer or another opportunity, pose this question to yourself: Does it align with my personal definition of success? If the answer is no, the opportunity, regardless of its prestige, isn't meant for you.

Your perspective on life steers your journey

Did you know that your outlook on life has the power to influence not just your emotional well-being, but also your physical health and longevity?

A compelling piece of evidence supporting this comes from a study involving an unconventional demographic—nuns. This research scrutinized the application letters penned by 180 young women intending to join monasteries.

Surprisingly, the tone of these letters bore a direct correlation to the nuns' lifespan. The women who portrayed themselves positively outlived, by a decade on average, their counterparts who displayed a negative tone.

A staggering 90 percent of the former group survived until at least 85, in contrast to just one-third from the latter group.

This underscores how people's self-perception in their 20s massively influences their life trajectory.

The important takeaway here is: Your perspective on life steers your journey.

The interconnection between mind and body has been well established through extensive research. Individuals prone to unhappiness are more susceptible to infections and are likely to take more sick leaves. In contrast, those with a positive mindset can enhance their health without making any lifestyle modifications.

A study involving 84 hotel housekeepers illustrates this point. Half the group was informed that their daily cleaning activities constituted good exercise and could boost their health. The other half—the control group—wasn't privy to such information.

After a month, the group that had received the positive message lost weight and had lower blood pressure, while the control group saw no improvement.

When you embrace a pessimistic view of life, you step into the GAP. You're plagued with self-doubt and dissatisfaction, fostering the belief that your life isn't up to the mark. This negative mindset triggers chronic stress, anger, and anxiety, ultimately wreaking havoc on your body.

GAP thinking, over the course of several years, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and worn out.

But don't despair. There's an alternate path—that of the GAIN. This means applauding yourself for the progress you've made and cherishing every experience, viewing it as a valuable learning opportunity. Adopting this positive perspective will make you happier and healthier.

Embarking on the path to the GAIN calls for conscious effort and practice.

For starters, rally trusted individuals to act as your accountability partners, gently nudging you whenever you slip back into GAP thinking.

Commit to cultivating a GAIN mindset. This can involve celebrating your accomplishments or acknowledging the valuable lessons gleaned from challenging situations.

With persistence, the GAIN viewpoint will become second nature, replacing the once predominant GAP mentality.

Embrace the joy of celebrating your achievements and progress.

Meet Rosie, a young girl diagnosed with a severe neurological disorder, lissencephaly. Medical experts predicted her future would remain stagnant, with no scope for new skills.

However, Rosie defied all odds, thanks to the relentless efforts of her dedicated physical therapist. Within a year, she mastered walking on uneven terrain like grass—a feat so extraordinary that it eventually seemed like a normal routine.

To prevent such miraculous advancements from fading into oblivion, her therapist diligently maintained detailed records and arranged periodic progress discussions with Rosie's parents. This intentional celebration of progress served as a powerful motivation to persevere.

The essential message here is: Embrace the joy of celebrating your achievements and progress.

It's easy for your impressive feats to blur into the routine, as they swiftly become a part of your 'normal'. Our brains are, in fact, hardwired to forget. Once you acquire a new skill, your brain promptly automates it, allowing it to operate on autopilot. Consequently, you often remain oblivious to the novelty of your accomplishments.

This is why maintaining a detailed record of your journey is invaluable. By journaling, you can chronicle the hurdles encountered and the innovative solutions devised. Revisiting these records provides a tangible measure of the strides you've made.

A common trap many fall into is comparing their current progress against an envisioned future ideal. This approach only sows seeds of discontent since the future is an uncertain entity that hasn't unfolded yet. On the contrary, the past is a tangible benchmark. By comparing your present with your past, you gain a realistic sense of the leaps you've made.

Pause and rewind to your life a decade ago. Consider how you spent your time, what you deemed important, and the journey you've traversed in those years.

Catalog every achievement during this period, not just material success or social recognition, but also the evolution of your mindset. Reflect on any challenging situations that yielded precious insights. What were these insights?

Now, repeat this reflection for the past three years and even the last 90 days. Engaging in such mindful retrospection will fuel your confidence and enthusiasm.

Simultaneously, it will shed light on your future path, aligning you better with your aspirations.

Transform the final hour of your day into a celebration of triumphs and a roadmap for future wins.

The hour right before you hit the sack is one of the pivotal periods of your day. Your activities during this time can either enhance or impair your sleep quality, dictating your productivity levels for the forthcoming day. Sadly, most of us squander these precious 60 minutes, engrossed in aimless browsing on our smartphones.

It's no secret that excessive nighttime use of smartphones wreaks havoc on our sleep. These gadgets serve as potent stimuli that keep the brain overactive, resulting in a restless night's sleep. Waking up after such a disrupted sleep cycle, you are likely to be engulfed in anxiety and fatigue.

However, there's no need for despair. By making a few tweaks to your nightly routine, you can harness this critical hour to drastically improve your sleep and become more organized.

The core idea here is: Transform the final hour of your day into a celebration of triumphs and a roadmap for future wins.

The first step is to put away your smartphone at least half an hour before your bedtime. With that out of the way, grab a pen and a sheet of paper, taking time to introspect about your day.

Specifically, identify three victories from your day and jot them down. Remember, these wins are subjective and personal. So if doing laundry is typically a daunting task for you, managing to get it done qualifies as a win.

Once you've chronicled today's wins, switch your focus to tomorrow and envision three wins you aim to achieve.

Integrating this simple exercise into your nightly routine can have transformative effects on your day and night. Documenting your daily wins propels you into a GAIN mindset, enhancing your self-confidence and overall well-being. This positivity translates into tranquil sleep.

Conversely, setting clear objectives for the next day gives your brain some food for thought, allowing it to process these goals subconsciously during your sleep. As a result, you wake up with a renewed sense of purpose. No longer will you merely be responding to unforeseen challenges, but you'll be armed with a concrete, executable plan.

Moreover, this practice conditions your mind to seek GAINs throughout your day. Humans are innately equipped with selective attention that filters out irrelevant stimuli, focusing only on aspects that are significant, intriguing, or applicable.

Capitalize on this characteristic to center your attention on your daily wins. As your brain begins to naturally seek such victories, you'll find yourself brimming with self-assuredness and enthusiasm to continue chasing your aspirations. Persist with this practice, and before long, you'll discover yourself leaping out of bed every morning, bursting with energy and anticipation for the day's triumphs.

Learn to view every seemingly adverse event as a GAIN by adjusting your perspective.

For Howard Getson, September 29, 2008, was a defining moment. Overnight, he lost a whopping two million dollars in the stock market. Understandably, Getson was taken aback. His trading activities appeared to be spiraling out of control.

However, upon further reflection, he saw things from a different angle. Despite his colossal loss, not everyone had been on the losing side. Quite the contrary — some traders had amassed immense wealth during the same time frame.

What made their strategies successful, while his faltered? What lessons could he glean from them?

Following a night of contemplation, Getson had a revelation — he stopped viewing the loss as a setback. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity for transformation.

Riding on this new wave of optimism, Getson's engineering team began developing cutting-edge software, which incorporated Artificial Intelligence to adapt to fluctuating market conditions. The two-million-dollar loss, which could have been a ghost haunting Getson for the rest of his life, turned into a stepping stone to innovation.

The underlying message here is: Learn to view every seemingly adverse event as a GAIN by adjusting your perspective.

Getson showcased a characteristic known as psychological flexibility. This trait enables you to regulate your emotions and proactively mold the significance of your experiences.

Psychological flexibility is a crucial ingredient for resilience. It ensures you don't stay stuck in the face of adversity, but instead, accept the situation and devise innovative approaches to achieve your objectives.

Psychological flexibility isn't necessarily an innate ability, but the good news is, anyone can cultivate it. The first step in this journey is to take ownership of everything that happens to you — the highs and the lows. It's true that you can't control all external factors. However, you can control your reactions to them.

Co-author Dan Sullivan devised a powerful tool known as "The Experience Transformers" within his coaching practice. This exercise, a kind of thought experiment, encourages you to reinterpret your experiences.

To start, get a pen and paper and answer these questions: What lessons can you learn from this experience that will benefit you in the future? How would you approach things differently next time? What are you thankful for in this situation?

This exercise provides you with the space to digest your experiences rather than running away from them. It empowers you to craft your own narrative about what transpired. With this approach, you can confront your experiences head-on and cherry-pick the lessons you wish to take away from them.

With this perspective, every experience, regardless of its outward appearance, can be a GAIN.

Wrapping it up

The central idea here:

Chasing happiness is unnecessary; you can decide to be happy in the present moment. Rather than drawing comparisons to others, establish your unique benchmarks for success. Trying to measure your progression against a future ideal isn't viable, as the future is invariably elusive. It's more beneficial to gauge your advancement by comparing it to where you were in the past. Celebrate your considerable accomplishments. This is the essence of GAIN thinking, a mentality that imbues you with vigor and motivation. While it might not be instinctive, you can cultivate it through simple daily practices.

The Gap and the Gain Quotes by Dan Sullivan with Benjamin Hardy

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