Ask me to play, I’ll play, ask me to shoot, I’ll shoot. Ask me to pass, I’ll pass, Ask me to steal, block out, sacrifice, lead, dominate, anything. But it’s not just what you ask of me. It’s what I ask of myself.

~ LeBron James

Success, achievement, and fulfillment, whether in your personal or professional life, demand an honest and thorough evaluation of where you are and where you want to go. The standards we set for ourselves impact everything that we do from our relationship with our family to our level of fitness. We often begin this journey of self-development with goal-setting, and although goals are important, we want to introduce an introspective process that should precede goal-setting, called the H-Gap Activity

Turning goals into reality requires a level of commitment and dedication that include specific phases, which must be established and planned. Our four-part model below is proven effective as a critical aspect for getting from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. But it’s only the first step to success. Follow the model and then use the H-Gap Activity as well. 

Phase 1: Set One Big Important Goal. Identify one goal that you are deeply passionate about. This can be personal or professional or one for both. 

Phase 2: Bring It to Life. Write it down and visualize it. 

Phase 3: Create a Master Plan. Identify the specific details and deadlines that will guide you to achievement.

Phase 4: Be Accountable. Find a friend, an accountability partner, to help you along the way. 

This goal-setting model demonstrates the need for continuous self-improvement, accounting for specificity and accountability. But, prior to goal-setting, we need a different process that crystallizes not only where you are heading but what you need to do to get there. On a psychological level, we have to understand that we are really only ever driven by our why. Without this understanding, we end up chasing goals that leave us empty and unfulfilled. The process for uncovering our why requires time and introspection–a quiet space and place to clarify our thoughts and intentions. Headspace is one of our favorite apps that help us to achieve this state-of-mind. 

Within organizations, the process is not much different. The team’s why must define everyone’s attitude, actions, and efforts towards a common goal that is aligned to the vision. This leads to an initial step of self- and organizational-discovery. This is where our Hinderance-Gap Model comes into play. Because life and work can seem complicated, with all of the “things” that either prevent or promote what we are trying to achieve, we need strategies to get past the hindrances. We can’t let bad habits, poorly written rules, and bureaucratic red tape stifle great ideas and a better future for all of us.

The H-Gap Activity requires you to identify where you are and where you want to be. This establishes the pillars of the H. After the pillars are clear, the next critical step is to determine what needs to be done to get from one pillar to the next, which serves as the bridge between the two. The bridge is the action steps, activities, and program of work that support your attempt to make a change. During that process, it’s also important to identify what you need to stop doing. These are the things that are getting in your way from making it from one pillar to the next. They surround the bridge, making the trek from one side to the next see daunting. The visual below illustrates the concept.   

To gain a better understanding of how the H-Gap works, let us introduce you to Dr. Jennings, who is in her fifth year at Keystone Academy High School.

Her school has committed resources and energy to PSEL Standard #5: Community of Care and Support for Students. This effort was prompted by the demographics of the school rapidly changing over the last few years and the school determining that it needed to be more culturally responsive in order to best educate the students. Within Standard #5 is Principle F, which reads “Infuse the school’s learning environment with the cultures and languages of the school’s community,” which can be accomplished in a variety of ways. 

In this instance, Dr. Jennings and her team decided that the steering committee should take a thorough look at the school’s curriculum, specifically within the English coursework that they offer. 

The H-Gap process allows for an individual or group to work collaboratively together to determine the best method to move forward.

Where Are We Now?Where Do We Want to Be?What Do We Have To Start Doing?What Do We Have to Stop Doing?
A responsive curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards but that has not undergone a thorough review to determine if it is culturally and racially responsive.A curriculum that is aligned to the standards but that is also culturally and racially representative of the students who are learning from it.  
Form teams to review the current curriculum and learning activities using a prescribed checklistAssume that the staff knows how to be culturally and racially responsive and that they know how to supplement the curriculum as needed. 

Once Dr. Jennings employs the H-Gap Activity with her team, they can get to work on their path toward what they set as a goal. Notice that even if her team set clear goals using the model that we previously described, they still might encounter problems in making their change if they didn’t have the H-Gap Activity at the core of their process. 

Leading change is always a challenge. Going from goal-setting to goal-getting isn’t easy. That’s why it’s imperative that we use models to guide our process. We hope that you’ll find our H-Gap Activity useful so that your team finds success with the goals that you set this month and beyond. 

Stay tuned for challenges, nuggets of wisdom, reflection questions, technical tips, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our alerts, blogs, podcasts, and more.

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TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

This blog post is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save.