Balance & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

#35: The High Achiever Tightrope

Striving for more while cherishing what you've accomplished can feel like walking a tightrope, can't it?

That's the heart of our conversation today, as Jo opens up about her own struggle with ambition and the peace that comes from acknowledging the strides she’s already made. Inspired by insights from Dan Sullivan's "The Gap and The Gain," this is a candid look at the bittersweet symphony of success, where each note of achievement is harmonised with the melody of contentment. Alongside this, we delve into the importance of self-compassion and the abundance mindset, tools that are essential for anyone looking to unlock the door to greater happiness and opportunity.

In our latest episode, we're not just talking about personal growth; we're living it. As we explore the toolkit from the Balance Institute, specifically tailored for women battling burnout, you'll find practical advice and heartfelt encouragement for striking that elusive balance in life. We're cheering each other on, quieting the inner critic, and raising a toast to our daily victories. So, if you're ready to replace self-doubt with self-celebration and step confidently into life's ring, this is the episode you won't want to miss. Join us, and let's journey together towards a life of joy, satisfaction, and well, just the right amount of ambition.

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Episode Transcript

INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…

There’s a beautiful book I read recently, that provides two different perspectives on a way to live. But, what I have found, time and time again, is that as women living the life that we are living, we have to find a way to have both, and really let go of all this “black and white” thinking that is out there in the self-help and the personal development world. What am I talking about? It's a great book by someone called Dan Sullivan, called the ‘Gap and the Game.’ This is a beautiful premise and I wholeheartedly agree with it. 

His philosophy is that we spend a lot of our lives, especially as high achievers, as perfectionists, living in what he calls “The Gap.” And this is the gap between what we have today, and what we want in the future, who we are today, and who we'd like to be in the future. How much money we have today, and how much money we would like to have. This is “The Gap.” 

This is always a focus on “not enough.” It's always a focus on what “I don't have.” And the interesting piece is I, until a couple of years ago, spent all my time there. And the story I told myself was, “Well, I've got to keep myself motivated.” “I need to have something to strive for.” I need to almost beat myself to a place of motivation, and goals, and striving, and achieving for something. And the way to get there is to focus on what I don't have, and what I want, and that's going to drive me. “I'm going to make it happen.”

But, the reality is, the whole time you're living in the gap, you feel rubbish. Because you don't have enough, and you aren't good enough, and you haven't tried enough. And I know, if you're listening to this, there's a pretty good chance you will fall into the same default habit I did. It's like, “All right, well, in order to get the thing that I want, and because I'm in the gap, what's my default?” “Work hard.” “Work harder.” “Work even harder.” “Work faster than anyone, more than anyone.” “Put in the hours.” “Put in the effort.” Because, you've lent on this work ethic, and that's always been the way to close the gap.  

But there is another perspective. There is another side to this. And that side is what Dan in this book calls, “Living in the gain.” And this is, “living in the gain of how far you've come.” Most women, when I share this, are like, “Ew, that's gonna make me have a big head.” “I don't want to look at that.” “I need to look at where I'm going.” “If I look back at where I've been, I'm gonna become complacent.” “I'm going to become lazy.”

But, the reality is, living in the game and taking time to reflect, ironically makes you go faster. It actually makes you get to your goals, and your dreams, and importantly, it eliminates a lot of suffering. It makes you find the joy. It helps you find the gratitude. It helps you celebrate all your success, and it's really hacking your psychology in order to support you, to get what you want. 

Because you have two ways you can get to a goal. You can white knuckle, you can grind, you can beat yourself up, and you get to the finish line. If you ever actually allow yourself to fit in a moment to celebrate a finish line, because you're used to moving the goalposts, and because you didn't do it perfectly, or the way you thought you should. 

Even if you've achieved it, you haven't actually enjoyed it. Or you celebrate how far you've come, you celebrate the woman who has shifted, you celebrate all the little micro achievements along the way, and it helps you celebrate the joy, and find the gift, in whatever has happened.

But here's the thing. This book, like many, argues that we want to shift from “living in the gap” and “we want to live in the gain.” And that is true. And I would rather you find a way to live in this duality of both of those concepts. Duality is something that, as a human, we live with. There is night and day, there is hot, and there is cold, there is summer, and there is winter, so it would never be hot, if we didn't have cold as a consequence, or an alternative. There would be no sun if there was no moon, there would be no black if there was no white. 

And so, we live in this world of duality and contrast, where both things need another to be true, in order for it to exist. If there was no “hot”, it would just be a temperature we would have nothing relative to compare it to. And so, I really offer you to step into this beautiful world of embracing duality, where you want to spend a large portion of your time living in the game, celebrating what you've achieved, being grateful for what you have, finding the joy, celebrating the growth, and finding those 1% shifts.

And, how can you also have the strength to hold, “I still desire more.” “I still want to achieve more.” “I still know that I have more potential.” Or “I have more wealth” or “I have more joy” or “I have more fun in me.” But, the thing you need if you want to hold both of these, is you need compassion for yourself, and for others. Because, if you go into this gap with the mentality of, “Are we going to flog ourselves?” And you don't have enough, well then, it's going to really hurt, and it's going to feel horrible. 

Whereas, when you're able to step into both with compassion and fulfilment, and joy for what you've achieved in the game, and also compassion and joy for what is about to come, this is where you can step into this beautiful sense of power. And, I often say to my clients, “I want you to imagine yourself walking on the beach, with one foot in gratitude for what you have, one foot in gratitude for the game, one foot celebrating everything that you've achieved, everything you've overcome, to get yourself to where you are at this point.”

And then, the second step we can have, is in desire for what's to come. And then, we go back to gratitude for what we have. We go back to, “living in the game.” We spend longer there, we celebrate, we anchor it in. We look at our progress, and then we look to the future and say, “I still want more”, and “I give myself permission for more.”

But the key is here. It is in this “compassion.” What we have to stop doing is suggesting that we're not enough until we have “The Thing.” “I'm not successful until I have X in the bank.” Or, “I'm not successful until I have X house.” Or, “I'm not successful until I have X title, or revenue numbers.” Or whatever. 

Your external definition of success is when you shift to be more about your desire. It's more about, “What do you want?” It's more about, “What do you want to unlock?” It's more about, “What's this next level of feeling?” “What's this next possibility?” “Can you say what it is?” It's a completely different energy. It's the energy of, “I have enough, and I want more.” “I've been successful, and I'm grateful for that, and I love that, and I can be more successful.” It's done from a place of, “I am enough as I am.” And it's only from this place you are, ironically, able to get more. 

Because, you cannot get more if you're constantly telling yourself you don't have enough. “I'm not enough until I hit X.” What are you broadcasting out to the universe? What is your subconscious mind saying? What energetic states are you living in? You're living in fear. You're living in scarcity. You're living in a lack of worthiness. 

And so, from that place, from that emotional home, you're going to second guess yourself. You're going to overthink. You're going to take a long time to make decisions because, “Well, I'm not enough, and I don't know enough.” You're going to have crazy self-sabotage behaviors. Like, feeling like you need to be prepared for everything. Feeling like you need to second guess. When you second guess every decision and overthink it, it means that you can't disconnect. 

You lie awake at two in the morning. “Oh, I shouldn't have said that in that meeting.” “What are you going to think of me?” And so, this whole web of crazy behavior that has the undercurrent of fear, of scarcity, of lack of worthiness, of shame, of guilt, is how you end up living. Whereas, if you can step into the gap with, “I'm fabulous, I'm great.” “And if I'm this great, imagine if I can now bring more to me.” “I want to be a magnet for more.” “I want to be a broadcast for more.” “I want to step into this next best version of myself.” “I want to evolve my identity.” “I want to evolve who I am.” 

And then, it's becoming. Not about “The Thing.” It's not about becoming, “I will be good enough, when I get the thing.” “I'll be good enough, when I tick the box.” It's, “I'm great today.” “You know what?” “There can be more of me.” “I can have more spark.” “Oh my gosh, imagine if I could have more joy?”`You're then coming at the gap from a place of love, from a place of compassion, from a place of confidence, and acceptance. 

Because if you don't achieve the thing that you want to in the gap, well, because you already have enough, and because you're grateful for what you have, and because you can see how far you've come, you're going to be okay! 

So, there's no scarcity. There's no worry about, “Well, if I don't get this thing, what does that mean about me?” Because, you're already enough. And this is the beauty of duality. I'm going to really encourage you this year to step into, “How do I live in the gap and the gain?” “How do I spend more time in the game?” “How do I spend more time reflecting?” “How do I look at my day before I go to bed, and think, what are the good things I achieved?” Because chances are pretty high that you will lie in bed and go, “Oh, I didn't do this, and I didn't do this, and I've got to do that tomorrow.” “I have time to do that tomorrow, because I've got to do that tomorrow.”

And I said that, that is living in the gap. And that's living in the gap from a place of fear, from lack, from unworthiness. Because, you are not good enough. Because, you didn't do the thing. Instead of recognizing, “I didn't do that thing, but man, I had a great day!” “I did this thing, and I did this thing, and I stepped into that conflict, and I held myself well, and I filled up my cup, and I was present here, and I celebrated myself here, and I said ‘great job.’” 

And then, you're not focused on the one thing that you didn't do. It's going to happen if you can hold that duality. You're going to sleep better. You're going to wake up feeling refreshed. You will be able to hold that boundary. To fill up your own cup. Everything shifts for the better.   

So, that is my wish for you. I wish for you to understand what this duality means. It's to hold “the gain.” To swim in it, to marinate in it, to let it fill your soul. Let it fill up your cup, and then walk in that other step of desire of what you want. Of giving yourself permission to want what you want, because you're already good enough. 

So, this other thing is a bonus, it's not a necessity. When you can start to do that, I want everything to change for you. I want you to get out of the gap. I want you to get into this beautiful world of self-acceptance, of radical acceptance. Almost of, accepting your flaws, accepting your challenges. 

Every single one of us are human. We make mistakes, that's okay. We have things that we can't solve, that's okay. You have a human moment. But, you pick yourself up, you celebrate what has shifted, and you move forward into the best version of you. When you can do that, my goodness, expect life to become infinitely more enjoyable. You can hold so much more, you can become so much more, and that's what life's about. 

Don't spend your life swimming in self-doubt and ridicule with that mean girl who has a megaphone. I want your cheerleader to be all ears. I want you to have a cheer team that has got, you know, pom poms and say, “Yeah, you've got this!” “That is what makes life worth living!” So, step into the game, have compassion, and step into “the gap”, and let's unlock everything for you. 

OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.

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