What do courageous leaders usually strive to clarify? (Dang it.)– SCN Encourager

It’s something I usually try to dodge.

I’ll explain.

Just follow the timeframe.

It all began during tax season.

Back in late March.

Cindy and I were crunching numbers in preparation for April 15.

I can’t remember what expense category we were discussing, but Cindy was concerned.

More concerned than I was.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I soothed. “This is just a gap. We can work on it.”

“Tom,” Cindy corrected. “This isn’t a gap. It’s a hole.”

“A hole? Don’t exaggerate.” I downplayed. “We’ll make adjustments next year.”

And that was that.

We dropped our entertaining “gap vs. hole” banter.

We just kept working on our taxes.

Afterward though, I made a note to blog about the topic of “gaps” someday, largely because of the multitude of gaps we school leaders and communicators need to be mindful of.

And I did this last week. 
(Tah-dah! A true man of his word!)

I also thought any memories of our tax time conversations were long gone. 


It flared back up yesterday in a way that could only happen to a knucklehead like me.

As part of my early morning ritual (as many of you know), I enjoy listening to podcasts while I shower and shave.

In keeping with our lifelong commitment to proving “opposites attract,” Cindy enjoys her coffee sitting in a comfy chair by the picture window in the family room while I’m in the bathroom.

And that’s the extent of her morning ritual as far as I know.

She must watch the birds and squirrels out on our deck or something.

I wouldn’t know.

I only hear her when she occasionally yells for me to either close the door to our master bathroom or turn down the radio.

Unfortunately – about 24 hours ago – I didn’t do either one quickly enough.

I was shaving and listening intently to a respected East coast business consultant outline his “four essential questions” every leader must be courageous enough to ask.

Now I don’t know if it was question #2 or #3 in the consultant’s countdown, but he emphatically stated loud and clear “every leader must be willing to look into the eyes of their team members and ask, ‘Are we talking about a gap or are we talking about a hole?'”

Apparently, according to the consultant, this GAP vs. HOLE distinction is a really big deal, as each one must be honestly assessed and then addressed via different strategies.

This doesn’t happen enough, he said.

Many individuals prefer to deny the full depth of a hole facing them.

They’d prefer to see a gap, something they can easily minimize.

It then suddenly dawned on me I’d better close the bathroom door AND turn down my radio.

But when I turned around, Cindy was there.

“Hey! Did I hear that right?” she asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I said. “What did you hear?”

At this point, I acquired a better understanding about the value of calling a hole for what it is.

For I knew what it was like to be standing deep in one.

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