Closing the Gaps for Inner Peace

Hyrum Smith speech.

Nicola McIntosh Nov 1, 2016

Best-seller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has sold 17 million copies in 78 languages since its publication in 1989, but according to Franklin Covey co-founder Hyrum Smith, the principles behind the book were around long before its publication date. For centuries even.

“People said (author and co-founder Stephen) Covey was a genius, but the genius was putting the seven principles together,” Smith told an audience of more than 100 guests at a Zions Bank luncheon in Boise in August.

Smith — known as the father of time management — continues to focus on shaping people to become the best version of themselves, helping them close three “gaps” that keep them from achieving inner peace. These include a belief gap — the gap between what we believe about the world and how we relate to it — and the time gap, which refers to our failure to productively use our time to meet our goals.

The value gap refers to the disconnect between what we value most in life and where we invest most of our time. “If I value being physically fit and I am overweight, am I in pain? Yes, because there’s a gap,” Smith explained. “If I want to experience happiness (inner peace) with that value, I’ve got to close the gap.”

Smith said closing the value gap (and belief and time gaps) has a powerful impact and can be done in three steps that are “simple, but not easy.” Each gap has a “blueprint” based on three steps for closing that gap.

The genius behind Smith’s new company, 3 Gaps, lies in its ability to provide a simple framework and blueprints to find meaning in life and feel like you are making a difference in your marriage, family, organization, community and world. The power of closing gaps is, literally, world changing.

Find Your Governing Values

Step 1: Identify your governing values. Smith used an exercise to show that in most cases, no amount of money could tempt us to walk across an I-beam suspended across a 500-foot canyon. However, almost all of us would do it if it meant saving our child on the other end.

“When you sit down to identify what your governing values are, ask yourself this question: ‘What would I cross the I-beam for?’” Smith said. In other words, consider what idea, principle or person has so much value that you would risk or dedicate your life to the value.

Step 2: Write a clarifying statement for each value and examine what it means to you. Clarifying statements create “soft” metrics that allow us to see our gaps more clearly.

Step 3: Prioritize your values. Smith invoked the example of Herman Krannert, who spurned an offer to be named a director of Sefton Manufacturing Co. in exchange for voting in line with the company’s president. He quit his job and founded Inland Container Corp., which grew to become one of the largest containerboard manufacturers in the U.S.

“This guy in 1925 not only knew what his governing values were — integrity, loyalty — but he had prioritized them. Suppose he had changed the order of those two values, would it have affected his decision?” Smith said. “This, folks, is the single most important list you will ever prioritize.”

Pledge to Live by Your Own Personal Constitution

Smith advised everyone to write a “personal constitution” after working through the three steps. “If you really want an electric experience, write one for yourself, have your spouse write theirs and then write one for your family,” he said, noting that his own family’s constitution included a provision for their children to be home by midnight, from which they never wavered, even on prom night.

Find Inner Peace — The Highest Form of Happiness

Smith recalled training 15,000 brokers 30 years ago at Merrill Lynch. After teaching a seminar in Cleveland, one of the senior executives wrote Smith a letter about the impact his training had on him.

“When you talked about the value of discovering your values, a light went on for me,” the man wrote. He began to dedicate himself to creating a better life for his son by attending every one of his soccer games, taking him on business trips and teaching him to shoot a gun.

When his son died tragically at a young age, the man had no regrets. “I have experienced pain at the loss of my son,” he said, “but I have not experienced any guilt. I finally understand inner peace.”

Smith said people typically spend up to seven hours creating their constitution, but only 12 percent actually complete the task. The investment of time pays dividends, according to Smith. “When the events of your life are in line with your governing values,” he said, “you have a credible claim to inner peace.”

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