The essential gap between what and how

8 July 2008 1 By Viv McWaters

I’ve noticed something recently about knowing what I have to, or want to do, and the capacity to do it, that is, knowing how. This gap can be instantaneous or prolonged, according to circumstances. It’s what happens during this gap that intrigues me.

And I suspect that the gap is essential – for processing, getting things in order, making sense of complexity. If I don’t acknowledge/allow the space and time for this gap I may become anxious about my ability or capacity. Maybe this is one of the causes of stress – those times when we have so many demands that there’s no time for any gaps. Maybe that’s why many young people sensibly take a gap year. Am I just talking about reflection? I’m not sure. I think it’s a bit different to reflection – a space in which to prepare to act. I’m sure there must be something about this in the martial arts.

As a facilitator I think it’s necessary to be aware of this (even if I don’t fully understand it yet). And it also helps explain why so many ‘action plans’ are fairly superficial. Often I think it’s enough to simply open the door. Then trust that people will work out how to do what they know needs to be done. And then get out of the way.