Hyrum W. Smith is the co-founder and former CEO of Franklin Covey. His latest book The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?, shows how to lead a fulfilling life by closing these gaps. The book is filled with stories of people who overcome challenges to live a life of purpose.
“Governing values are simply a description of one’s highest priorities.” -Hyrum Smith
I recently asked him about his latest work on achieving a meaningful and impactful life, a life in balance.
3 Life Gaps
The Beliefs Gap. The gap between the behaviors that meet our needs and those that do not.
The Values Gap. The gap between what we value and where we actually spend our time.
The Time Gap. The gap between what we plan to do and what we actually do.
You share four steps for monitoring and changing your beliefs. Is there one that most people struggle with?
Typically, the hardest thing for any of us to do is to admit that “the only problem in my life is me.” This is why the very first step is to admit that the problem lies with us. It is perhaps a sign of our times that we tend to externalize more today than ever before. We don’t look first to ourselves but tend to blame circumstances or the actions of others for our challenges. Getting past that first hurdle is the key to closing this gap.
“Any belief that drives behavior that does not meet your basic needs over time is an incorrect belief.” -Hyrum Smith
How and why do people often get off track with their stated values?
One of the ways we miss the mark is by failing to realize the importance of identifying our key values. Life is filled with “have to do” events and “someone expects me to do” events and “once in a while I’d like to do something for myself” events. It takes a concerted effort to identify the values that should be our highest priorities and then to compare our activities to those values. We get off track because we don’t focus on these values. We assume that they will take care of themselves. They usually don’t.
“The only thing you have 100% control over is you.” -Hyrum Smith
I remember her sitting on the couch, telling her story. My mom was listening, nodding her head and taking it in. This woman had a tough life and she recounted stories of abuse, of hurt, of neglect. My presence barely registered as she poured out her pain. Only a few, carefully chosen questions, that was all it took from mom. Like a skilled surgeon piercing infected skin, she used a question like a scalpel, surgically timed and designed to alleviate pain.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” -Shakespeare
It’s funny how I can recall the room so clearly now: the curtains and wallpaper in the room, the sofas, the layout, the piano nestled in the corner. It’s all etched in my memory. Also etched in my memory is the story. It was different from others, sure, but in so many ways it was the same.
My family took people in; mostly people in trouble; people in need; people with histories, pain, and shame. Though we were not the wealthiest in the world, there was always room for one more at the table. Some came for a single meal while others would stay for years.
As I listened to the particulars of this woman’s story, I felt for her. You couldn’t help but be affected as you heard the details.
My friend Robert Goolrick is one of the most remarkable people I’ve met. He’s a first class novelist, writing two New York Times bestselling books: A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful. These are stories that will linger with you long after you finish them. He writes the kind of novels you have to tell someone else about. He also wrote the bestselling, non-fiction book The End of the World as We Know It about his unbelievably difficult life.
A Perfect Life?
Look at his life now, and you’d think it was made-for-movie perfect. His books sell millions of copies. He lives a gentleman’s life in Virginia. He travels to exotic destinations. On his wrist, you are bound to see a timepiece to remember.
You may see the external life of dreams, but dig a little more and learn his story.
As an adult….
He was fired from his job as an advertising executive.
His manuscripts were rejected by publisher after publisher.
He was addicted to drugs and drinking.
He cut himself.
He literally lost a decade of his life in a world you wouldn’t recognize.
He was institutionalized.
As a child….
He was verbally abused.
He lived in squalor (complete with rats!).
He was raped. By his father.
He was neglected.
Most of us don’t understand that kind of life, that kind of pain. But all of us have obstacles thrown in our path.