The Gap versus The Gain — a MUST-HAVE guide for entrepreneurship

Gary Vanbutsele
5 min readJul 8, 2022


The Gap and The Gain

As entrepreneurs, we (and I mean the general ‘we’) are typically focused on growth, numbers, and statistics. If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing quite like a shiny dashboard filled with numbers to make your day!

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years, both in my family life and in managing a team, and even in my own work, is the importance of focusing on the proverbial glass half full.

It all began with a little book that had a BIG impact that I read a few months back titled “The Gap versus The Gain”.

The Gap versus Gain Philosophy

The basic philosophy behind the book goes a little something like this: focusing on lack, particularly how far you have to go, makes you unhappy.

If you measure your current self against your ideal self (often chosen and defined by other people rather than yourself as defined by wild stereotypes which are never questioned), you’ll never be happy because there will always be a gap. Unsuccessful and unhappy people primarily focus on this even though we all experience this to some extent.

If you measure your current self against your previous self — and notice the gain you’ve made between a point in history and today — you’ll experience happiness, satisfaction, and confidence. 👍

The most successful of people understand this.

Why it’s for Entrepreneurs

We’re entrepreneurs for a reason, right? We love the thrill of the chase! We purposefully set ourselves up to achieve what others have predetermined as impossible.

This is a fantastic characteristic, common amongst entrepreneurs.


Associating our emotional well-being with targets that are out of reach can set us up to be chronically unhappy.

The minute your well-being depends on achieving your set targets, you’re out of the game.

Ironically, this ends up having a negative effect on team performance and the business. The more you’re ONLY goal-focused, your team will begin to feel it. It ends up in a vicious cycle of pressure that counter-productively doesn’t produce results.

So what to do? Throw it all out the proverbial window?

Not at all.

Ideals versus goals

The difference between ideals, which are immeasurable and constantly changing, and goals, which are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, REALISTIC and time-bound) is big.

Does it mean don’t have a dream? No of course you. Dreaming is important.


Break the dream down into goals to make it work. 😎

Ideals can’t be benchmarked for achievement in themselves but they are the source from which your goals are inspired.

“The ideal is like the sun that illuminates the path ahead of you to give you the encouragement to take the necessary steps to reach your destination.”

How I implemented this in my life

As entrepreneurs, we don’t have 9–5’s. Partner meetings, getting the kids ready for bed, client calls, team meetings, time with your spouse, reading… it’s all just one thing.

I knew that if I wanted to live more in “The Gap versus The Gain”, I’d have to change my language. Check out my recent post on this.

Just by merely changing my language, I’ve shifted my personal relationships and just generally felt happier and more fulfilled in my marriage, as a father, as a son and within my friendships.

How we implemented this in our team

I never realized just how much entrepreneurship meant leading a team and embodying leadership until I was running a team.

As an entrepreneur, the way you lead your team will create a ripple effect throughout the business, impacting how team members work together and how team members work with clients and external partners.

Here are just a few ways we’ve adapted our way of working to tangibly implement the philosophy in the business;

Living the purpose

We’ve always been on a mission but it’s only in 2022 that we’ve been able to articulate our purpose of “Unlocking growth” at Whale. The importance of defining your purpose cannot be overstated.

Chaos to Clarity Show

Check out my recent podcast with Pepe Marais for how to do this in your business.

Purpose sounds intangible and fluffy but I’ve realized that when we’re living our purpose within the team which is implemented through our weekly Unlocking Growth meeting and our team reviews, we naturally tend to achieve our goals.

This is as opposed to having our purpose hung up on a wall and focusing only on the targets.

Giving kudos (and karma ☯️)

I recently read “The Art of Possibility” (which in and of itself deserves a post). When reading the chapter on Giving an A, I was once again reminded of the value of reminding others of their value. So we implemented the practice of giving kudos 👍👍👍.

Karma, with their award-winning employee recognition platform, enables organizations to boost employee engagement, reduce turnover and improve culture by giving kudos to colleagues.

We implemented Karma, which integrates into our Slack channel so that our team can award credit (or karma as it’s called) and the team is loving it!

It’s a little like Strava (the athlete’s vibe) but for the workplace and way cooler!

Essentially it’s taken the philosophy of living in “The Gain” and implemented it through an automated tool!

Meeting cadence

Our weekly L10 meetings, hosted on Traction Tools, are focused on living in The Gain whilst reaching objectives. In our weekly meeting, we each open with a personal and professional win from the week prior, before moving on to analyzing the dashboard and weekly figures.

Our Friday “Unlocking Growth” meetings are designed to recognize achievement and/or learning. In this way, we’re still promoting a learning culture at the same time as living in “The Gain”. 🙂

Each person shares how they’ve promoted growth or how they’re grown during the week. Just because we’re living through a positive lens doesn’t mean we’re not learning. It’s quite the opposite; when you frame things positively there’s more opportunity for learning and growth.

It’s this learning that enables us to reach new heights!

💡Ideas for entrepreneurs

This book was written for entrepreneurs and although entrepreneurship is a school unto itself, this is the graduation book everyone should read!

The ideas on how to implement this are endless ranging from what I’ve listed above to

  • setting daily calendar reminders to remind yourself of what’s working
  • mentioning new records achieved (we currently have a page in Whale dedicated purely to this)
  • to taking weekly personal reflection time.

If you haven’t read the book, read it and drop me a line to tell me what you think!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!




Gary Vanbutsele

Co-founder and CEO of Whale. Former founder of an IT services company where every day felt like putting out fires. Now obsessed with unlocking growth!