When Mary and I had just started dating, we worked at a Christian camp, and we were in charge of the counselors.
One day, Mary and I decided that it was important for us to go into her bedroom and close the door (obviously because we wanted to study the bible together privately and intimately). The only thing worse than simply being in a room with a member of the opposite sex behind a closed door at this Christian camp was if we were dancing, smoking, and/or gambling in said room. We were very self-righteous about our purity, so we honestly didn’t do anything scandalous.
Her room happened to open out into the commons area, where counselors frequently watched movies together. One of the rules at this camp (much lower on the list than the one outlawing being in a closed-door room with members of the opposite sex) was that they weren’t allowed to watch Rated R movies.
After our important meeting behind the closed door in her room, we came out to see the counselors watching a Rated R movie.
I immediately walked over to the TV, turned the movie off, and promptly scolded them for breaking the rules. It was completely lost on me that I had just emerged from my very hot girlfriend’s very out of bounds bedroom.
If you would have asked me that summer, I would have told you that integrity was one of my highest values. And yet there was a huge gap between my aspirational value of integrity and my practiced value of making out with my girlfriend in her room at a Christian camp. I was eager to point out the lack of integrity in others, even while my own lack of integrity was embarrassingly obvious to those same people.
In chapter 5 of Daring Greatly, Brené Brown discusses the importance of minding the gap between our practiced values (what we’re actually doing, thinking, and feeling) and our aspirational values (what we want to do, think, and feel).
In this leadership podcast, Andy Stanley takes it further by suggesting that when other people don’t mind the gap, we fill in that gap by either becoming suspicious of their motives, or choosing to trust them, in spite of their failure, and at least commit to finding out more about what happened.
So, think about the last time you noticed someone didn’t mind the gap. Which of the following options did you choose?
1. You created the worst case scenario in your mind about why they did whatever they did, then you wrote them off. You unconsciously decided to scrutinize every choice they will make in the future.
2. You decided to point it out to them as graciously as you could (or even perhaps ungraciously), and you asked why they did it. You found out that you didn’t know the whole story, and trust grew between the two of you.
I don’t have to tell you how incongruous it is that when we fail, we desperately hope people choose option #2, but when others fail, we often stubbornly choose option #1.
This was a short chapter, but it really got me thinking about the following questions:
- Who are the people in my life who will help me see what I don’t see, when my practiced values aren’t matching up to my aspirational values?
- Where does perfectionism get in the way, making my list of aspirational values unrealistic?
- Where do I get defensive, and how might that be a clue to where I’m not minding the gap?
Dare Greatly, friends. I hope this book is helping you to show up and engage with your actual life!