Mind the Gap! Assess Your Culture.

21 May

If you’ve ever taken a train you’ve probably heard the term Mind the Gap. It’s a precautionary warning to note the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be. In terms of a train or airplane jet way the idea is to avoid falling into the crevice – that would be quite unfortunate!

Expanding the idea of Minding the Gap to other areas of your life – work, family, community or personal – is there a gap between:

  • Where you say or think you are
  • Where you actually are
  • Where you want to be

Sometime we begin to believe our own press – if we say if often enough, loud enough or emphatically enough – it will be true.

“I am an optimistic person who watches what I eats and takes care of myself.”
“Yes, our family is very close, there are no secrets or arguments.”
“Our corporate values are Trust, Respect, Collaboration, and People First.”
“All viewpoints and opinions are encouraged and welcomed.”

Really? Is that what everyone experiences day-in and day-out?

In Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she lists 10 questions you might want to pose to help determine if there is a gap, and if so, how big it is. This is a great exercise for individuals, a family, schools, work teams, a department or company.

  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? Who stand 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, and emotional exposure) perceived?
  9. How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
  10. What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new thing, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort?

A few perspectives to consider when looking at the questions:

  • What do you espouse to be true? Your values, mission, beliefs or self-press?
  • What do you, or others, experience day-in and day-out?
  • What’s the size of the gap?
  • What is the cost of the gap on relationships, moral, reputation, personal wear and tear, resources, etc.?
  • What will you do about the gap?

You have choice!! Print off the questions. Take the quiz for yourself. Ask your family members a few of those questions. If you’re really curious and brave take the questions to your next staff meeting and see what people think!

Live life out loud! It keeps shame at bay.


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