There is a gap in most men’s lives and, in fact, I would argue in every man’s life. This gap represents what we know we should be doing versus the things that we’re actually doing. This is the integrity gap. The larger that gap is, the less fulfilled, the more unhappy, the more unpleasant, and depressed you will be. The smaller that gap, the more fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, contentment, happiness, wealth, and prosperity will come into your life.
There was a time in my life roughly 10 years ago where I had a huge integrity gap in my life (again, the gap between what I knew I should be doing and what I was actually doing). Here’s the reality: Everybody that reads this, including you, knows what you should be doing.
If I were to ask anyone, “How do you lose weight?” 99.9% of people would say, “Well, I probably ought to eat a little bit better and exercise a little bit more.” If I were to ask how to build more wealth in your life, everybody out there would say, “I need to find a way to make more money and/or spend less money.”
These are not secrets. This is not rocket science here. Everybody knows what they should be doing, yet when you look around in society you can plainly see that many individuals are not living up to their potential. That’s the integrity gap. It’s knowing what you should be doing, and not doing it.
Living with this gap is the most unpleasant, unsatisfying, and miserable time in any person’s life. But rather than just tell you that there’s this big integrity gap and you need to figure out a way to bridge it (which you certainly do) I want to share with you a very simple formula that will help you bridge the gap.
HAVE A PLAN
First, you’ve got to know what you want. If I were to walk around on the street today and poll 100 men and say, “Tell me what you want,” most of them would say, “I want to be happy. I want to make a little bit more money. I want to live a happy life. I want to do some things that are exciting to me.” But, I would be willing to be there’d be very few, if any, that knew exactly what they wanted, that knew, “I want to make X amount of dollars,” that, “I want to lose this specific, like 20 or 30 pounds of weight,” or, “I want to do this marathon,” or, “Here’s the relationship I want, and here’s exactly what that looks like.”
The more clear that you can be about what you want out of your life, the more likely it is for you to achieve it. When you know what to say “yes” to, you also know what to say “no” to. There was a time when I had a very difficult time saying “no” to anything. I allowed the little things and distractors to come into my life and distract me from what I really wanted.
Sure, I was busy. Sure, I felt like I had done a ton of work, but at the end of the day, when I plopped my butt on the couch, I thought to myself, “What in the world did I even accomplish? I know I was busy, but where did my time ago?” If you’re feeling that way, it’s likely that you have no plan, that you have no clear direction, that you have no focus, you have no idea how you want to live your life, what that actually looks like, what specifically you’re trying to accomplish, what you should be saying “yes” to, and what you should be saying “no” to.
The first step in this formula is to make a plan. Very simply, know what you want. What do you want with the relationship with your spouse? What do you want the relationship with your children to look like? What do you want business opportunities to look like? What do you want this business to grow to? Do you want a promotion? What does that look like? Do you want to run a marathon? If you do, what type of individual will you need to become? Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to lose body fat? What specifically do you want? Write that stuff down, then refer to it each and every day so that it’s very, very clear, and it’s at the top of your mind.
Don’t lie to other people. Don’t lie to yourself. For example, if you hit snooze first thing in the morning but the night before, you had a plan to wake up on time well, you’re a liar. Every time you lie to yourself or somebody else a little piece of your soul dies. When you tell another person you’re going to do something or you tell yourself that this is how it’s going to be, and you don’t live up to that promise, you widen the integrity gap rather than bring that thing closer together.
I know it’s hard because each and every one of us gets into habits. We get into routines. We get into complacency. When I was in Iraq in 2005, we had a sign as we were leaving the gate, and it said, “Complacency Kills,” as in literal death. Now, I know that based on the day-to-day activities you have going on that you probably won’t die, but I think that there is a real threat to our livelihood, and our existence when we widen the gap by lying to ourselves about who we are, who we want to become, how we’re going to get there, and the work that’s actually required in order to achieve the results we’re after.
Stop lying to yourself. Stop lying to other people. Be true about who you are. Be true about what you’re experiencing. Be real with the expectations that you have of yourself. People like to ask, “Well, Ryan, how do I do this? How do I not hit snooze in the morning?” You just do it. You make the decision. I know you’re tired but you make the decision. You don’t hit snooze in the morning, you get your butt out of bed, and you go do the work that you had planned out the night before. Through that consistent action of doing it over and over and over again and not allowing those excuses to come up and not allowing yourself to lie, you get better at it, and discipline improves. Through that discipline, you start achieving what you want and bridging that gap of integrity.
SUCK IT UP
Just suck it up. Sometimes, you make a commitment, for example, that you aren’t excited about. Maybe a neighbor asks you to help them move, and you get to Saturday, and you’re thinking, “Man, I just want to relax. I’ve had a busy week, and I don’t really want to do anything.” Well, you made a commitment, and step number two is not to lie, so you get yourself up, go take care of your commitment, and then get back to relax.
The more that you do what you say you’re going to do, the more confidence that you earn because you begin to recognize that you’re becoming a man of your word, that you’re becoming somebody who can be relied upon, that you are proving to yourself that you can be trusted, that you are worth whatever it is that you’re after. If you continually break those commitments and you continue to lie to yourself and others what makes you think that you’re entitled to any level of confidence or any level of success?
I know a lot of guys who seem to believe that they’re entitled to success or entitled to other people’s beliefs. I’ve got news for you: you’re not entitled to that. That stuff is earned and it’s earned through sucking it up and following through on your commitments.
Here’s the other benefit of following through on your commitments: if they’re commitments that you don’t enjoy, and yet you follow through because you are a man of your word, you’ll learn not to make empty promises to yourself and other people so that you can focus the things that are important, and you aren’t bogged down with the things that you find trivial, boring, insignificant, or meaningless.
We’ve got to find ways to bridge this integrity gap. It’s the worst feeling in the world. You may be asking yourself, “How is this my life? How is this my life? I’m not satisfied with where I am financially. I’m not satisfied with the relationship I have with my wife and kids. I’m not satisfied with my body or my business.” If that’s you, I’d be willing to bet that there’s a gap in your life between what you know you should be doing and what you’re actually doing.
I get questions all the time. “Ryan, how do I lose weight?” “How do I grow a business?” “How do I save my marriage?” “How do I do this?” “How do I do that?” I think more often than not, what guys are looking for is not the answer to that question but an excuse not to do what they already know they should be doing. They’re looking to me to give them that excuse.
I’m not going to give you that excuse. What I’m going to tell you to do is to get your butt up and do exactly what you know you should be doing. It’s not always easy, it’s not always comfortable, it’s not always fun. But I’ll tell you what is fun, I’ll tell you what is exciting, what is comfortable. It’s doing the things that you know you should be doing and reaping the benefit and reward.
What would life look like if you did everything you knew you should be doing in your relationship? What would your relationship look like? You’d be connected more deeply, physically, mentally, emotionally. What would your business look like if you did everything that you knew you should be doing? What would your body look like? What kind of car would you drive? What kind of house would you live in? What kind of friends would you have? Imagine that with me for a second because when you bridge that integrity gap, those are the things that are at your fingertips.
Number one, make a plan. Be specific. The more specific, the more tangible, the more actionable it can be, the better off you’re going to be. Make a plan so you know what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.
Number two, do not lie. Don’t lie to other people and, more importantly, do not lie to yourself. When you are a liar, you are out of integrity, and it’s no wonder you feel horrible. In fact, you probably should feel that way because you’re not doing what you should be doing. That said, don’t allow that guilt and sorrow to fester. Don’t let that be a negative experience for you. Use that guilt and that sorrow as fuel to do better moving forward.
Number three, suck it up. If you made commitments to other people and yourself, suck it up. Own it. Go do it. Go take care of it. If it’s something you don’t enjoy, don’t commit to it next time.
Guys, it’s not that difficult. All of us have the capacity to do it. It’s very simple. Sometimes, it’s a challenge. Again, sometimes, it’s not fun but if you truly want big things in your life, you’re going to have to do the work to get there, and part of that work is bridging the integrity gap.