Daring Greatly: Mind the Gap

I kinda loved this chapter because it was a nice break from some of the intense self-knowledge I’ve gained from the other chapters. This chapter sets us up for the next couple.

I’ve mentioned before that I kinda live under a rock, especially when it comes to references, so I learned the history and popularity of the phrase “Mind the Gap” in this chapter. This phrase originated in London in 1969 with the underground railroad. It was a safety warning for passengers to be aware of the gap between the concrete on the edge of the train, so someone literally didn’t fall through a gap. Apparently there’s a band and a movie and t-shirts and door mats all with this phrase on it. It makes me think of the “watch your step” warning when you got off the school bus, but more catchy I suppose.

Moving on

So we all have goals. Things we want to accomplish and the steps we need to take to get there. The steps are our strategies to achieve these goals. But there’s another piece to the puzzle – cultural influence. Brown shares what I think is a perfect definition of culture “Culture is the way we do things around”. There’s a way we do things in rural Ohio and there’s a way they do things in NYC and they look a little bit different, to say the least. Our culture shapes our values. Our values guide the way we do things. Our values influence our strategies to achieve the goals we have set before us.

Brown gives these 10 questions to think about within the context of your culture

  1. What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
  2. Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
  3. What rules and expectations are followed, enforced and ignored?
  4. Do people feel safe and supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
  5. What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? What stands the cows back up?
  6. What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
  7. What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes a mistake?
  8. How is vulnerability (uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure) perceived?
  9. How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they shwing up?
  10. What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?

To be totally honest, reading through all of these kinda goes over my head, but I think if you picked one or two you could think about how the culture you live in influences you. These questions can help lead to exploring the darkest areas of our life – disengagement, disconnection, and the struggle with your own worthiness.

The more you dig into these questions and into this chapter, the more you are provided with a resource to evaluate the values you aspire to compared to the values you actually practice. In other words – do you actually strive to practice what you preach? Granted we’re all imperfect, and we’re all human, so sometimes we are going to fall short of the values we aspire but the hope is we’re practicing those values as much as we’re preaching them.

Alright – here’s the gap, the gap that we’re minding.

We disengage to protect ourselves from vulnerability, shame, and feeling lost and without purpose. We also disengage when we feel like the people who are leading us aren’t living up to their end of the social contract.

We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.

The gap is that space between what we’re aspiring to and what we’re actually doing.

Brown next shares some examples of Aspiration values and practiced values. I’m going to list what she shares below and close out by leaving you with a few questions to contemplate while you wait for next week’s post.


AV: Honesty and Integrity
PV: Rationalizing and letting things slide


AV: Respect and accountability
PV: Fast and easy is more important


AV: Gratitude and Respect
PV: Teasing, taking for granted, disrespect

We’re always taught respect your elders, honor thy mother and father, right? Except how do you respect them when they tease in nasty, hurtful ways that wind up with you questioning your worth and sitting in a puddle of tears? How can someone demand respect from you if you are shown no respect in the first place.

Gratitude is my soap box. Gratitude saved my life in the way it changed my perspective and outlook, and the way it eased the pain of seasonal depression. But there’s also merit to choosing to be grateful for your job and for your coworkers who support and encourage you, and also correct you in a loving way. Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have things until they’re gone. Which is why gratitude is important.


AV: Setting limits
PV: Rebellion and cool are important


869a766bcf2c47ef6d1b3331ff0d4ea5The gap between these different values is what can cause disengagement, disconnection and question of worthiness. Being aware of where we stand in practicing the values we aspire to and see as important is the act of daring greatly. Noticing the gap, and striving to do better, to close the gap is where daring greatly comes in. It’s speaking up. It’s choosing to embrace vulnerability and cultivate shame resilience.


Closing Questions:

  1. How does the culture of “never enough” affect our schools, organizations, and families?
  2. How do we recognize and combat shame at work, school, and home?
  3. What does minding the gap and daring greatly look like in schools, organizations and families?

I would also challenge you to replace these larger groups with “me”

  1. How does the culture of “never enough” affect me?
  2. How do I recognize and combat shame in the different areas in my life?
  3. What does minding the gap and daring greatly look like in my life, for me?

Use these questions to dig deeper into how your culture affects you and how you cope. Look at ways you may need to grow and change and work harder to live the values that you aspire to. Evaluate where you feel disconnected, how can you heal and reconnect? Assess what makes you feel unworthy and question your value as a person, what can you do to help combat those feelings and find your worth? What do you need to do to solidify you worth and value as a person?


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