Where Leaders Come to Think

The Gap of Progress


No matter what you are leading in life learning how to bridge the gap of progress is a vital lesson.

During my younger years, I went through some intense military training. One of the specialized training missions was crossing the Nisqually River. This particular river begins in the southern part of Mount Rainier National Park it’s fed by the Nisqually Glacier that is located on the southern side of Washington’s famous Mt. Rainier.

Don’t miss that…it was fed by a glacier.

The river was swift and cold its bite was literally breathtaking. As our platoon of trainees sat on the edge of the river, our mission was to cross.

You see, we were presented with our current reality, given a goal and then forced to contend with the titanic freezing gap between. We had to go through it – around was not an option.

In the case of the Nisqually river crossing, the gap was as much emotional, as it was physical. To cross, we would have to perform an analysis of our strengths and weaknesses. We had to think through the challenge and create a strategy  that delivered not just one of us but all of us with our equipment to the other side.

This was my introduction to the process of doing a gap analysis. As a platoon of soldiers, we had to slow down and think it through. Then we executed the plan and jumped in until we were over our heads in fast rushing cold water. Fortunately, our plan worked.

In life planning, these same principles hold true. Once leaders prioritize what is most important we are forced to study the situation and answer difficult questions.

  1. What is my envisioned future? How does my future look at its best?
  2. What is my purpose statement? A habit I was taught that gives clarity to the task at hand.
  3. What is my life verse to cling to when the going gets difficult?
  4. What is my current reality? This is where I confront the brutal facts. It only took me two boots deep into the Nisqually river to figure out that no amount of positive thinking was going to heat up this crossing and make it safe.

Then, we create a few commitments so that we may begin to capture our chosen futures.   Don’t overdo it. Only create 1 – 5 specific commitments that you can and will accomplish over the next 12 months.

This is where my son (13) and I are at in his life planning process. We are standing at the banks of a big river. I imagine that to him this looks like a fools voyage. The river is too deep, too cold and too deadly. Life can be hard even when lived with the best of intentions. Never the less here we stand on the banks of his life looking towards the other side of eternity.

This process requires some time to complete. Go slow as this process becomes the heart of your plan.

By way of example, I offer you one of my accounts and the gap analysis I performed. This category has to do with my relationship with Jesus.

Mark’s Gap Analysis

Account 1: God

Envisioned Future:

I am strong in faith and free at heart. Able and willing to listen and respond to the voice of God in my life. That daily I am sent out to love what God loves and seize divine moments. I have ample time to pray, study and listen to God’s still small voice in His Word, Whispers and others that I surround myself with. I am a force for good and have a thin margin between my faith life and the man others see.

Purpose Statement:

My purpose is to maintain a close conversational intimacy with Jesus and help others to do the same.

Supporting Verse:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Current Reality:

During this season of my life, I have been able to walk more consistently with Jesus. Taking the time to experience Him and hear his voice. I have steadied my gaze and cut back on the “doings” of church and focussed my heart on the “beings” with Christ. This, however, is not easy and I find myself in a constant battle against the flesh to move back towards my driven nature.

Specific Commitments:

  • I will practice the discipline of daily Bible study and devotional.
  • I will purposefully seek the Holy Spirit‘s counsel in every area of life.
  • I will connect with God through worship.
  • I will serve others in a spiritual manner at least once a day.

Everyone’s plans and priorities will be different. Just as different as the river you have to cross compared to mine. But its worth it! If a bunch, of rookie Platoon Leaders made it across the Nisqually that day I am sure that you can accomplish anything you put your mind towards.

Is there anything that holds you back from bridging gaps of progress in your life?

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