Book Review: The 3 Gaps by Hyrum W. Smith

promo_02The 3 Gaps:  Are You Making a Difference? is a short book and far from the most detailed or comprehensive one I have come across lately.  However, it might just be the most personally useful book I have ever read ….

Many books engage me to some degree.  I find myself rating books based on a measurement I call the Head-Bob … the more my head bobs up and down in agreement, the better the book. 

It’s a crude method, but surprisingly accurate. 

I found my head moving quite a bit as I read this one, and felt very engaged, both in the content and in the possibilities for my own growth.

Hyrum W. Smith makes a bold promise to the reader wrapped around the basic intent of the book:

Inner peace comes from having serenity, balance, and harmony in our lives achieved through the disciplined closing of the Three Gaps.”  (pg. 7)

Inner peace is no small thing, especially these days.   This got my attention early on, mainly for what is missing:   no mention of business success, career skyrocketing, or even becoming a better manager or partner … not that those type of successes are not implied and most probably will derive from a careful application of Smith’s formulas.

The usual measures of success are not the end goal … Inner peace is the true measure of success here.

share_18The 3 Gaps includes three main sections and none of these areas of focus will be new to you:   Beliefs, Values, and Time.   What is different is how Smith addresses the relationships between each and the clear way in which he helps us understand what we need to do to close our gaps.

For example, here’s his straightforward description of the Beliefs Gap:

“ … the gap between what you believe to be true and what is actually true:  Your Beliefs Gap” (pg. 8)

Each section presents in a similar direct way and in some depth.   With a little work, each of these three main sections could be a small book in itself.

For example, Smith pulls no punches with this very powerful observation as he begins the discussion on how we might use our time more effectively:

“ … we all have the same daily allotment of twenty-four hours that our ancestors had.   What has changed is the amount of stuffy we’re trying to cram into those same hours.”  (pg. 64)

share_19Each section also includes a practical list of actions to bring our beliefs, values, or time choices into alignment.  Each list is clear, powerful, and useful … as an example, here’s the three steps for closing the Values Gap:

Identify your Governing Values (pg. 40):

In this step, Smith asks us to consider this question:  “What would I cross the I-beam for?”  You need to read the whole description of the “I-Beam Exercise” to get the full impact, but I would wager that when one takes this exercise seriously, it will affect the direction of your life.  Your response to the exercise begins the process of determining your Governing Values – those core things in your life that matter above all else, even your own life

Write a Clarifying Statement Describing Exactly What Your Governing Values Mean to You (pg. 42):

Once identified, we describe and clarify our Governing Values.  This important step in the process is often missing from other values exercises, where we name a general term, but do not do the harder work of clarifying what that term specifically and deeply means to us.

Prioritize Your Governing Values (pg. 43):

Another important step where we make some hard choices about which values are more important.  In my experience, this is the hardest step for most, because every decision to elevate a value means another value moves lower on the list.   Psychologically, we interpret a lower rating as devaluing, even when all the identified values are strongly held.


Smith writes clearly and simply.   Warning:  The book starts with a heartbreaking story of personal loss that is hard to read or imagine living through.   Throughout this book, you will find a higher percentage than usual of personal and gripping accounts from the author and others who have faced horrific challenges to their bodies and spirits.   The stories are often challenging, but give us clear illustrations of what is possible for the human spirit.

Smith does not flinch from the hurt in life, but offers us a solid plan to deal with and move past pain, suffering, and loss.


The 3 Gaps expands nicely on one important idea:  Your choices about your Beliefs, Values, and Time, when aligned individually and with each other, will result in more positive and more effective living.

You will find value in this book if …

…you help others engage in positive change.

…you help others learn how to help people grow and change.

…you face a personal or professional challenge.

While many of the actions and recommendations are not unique or new, Smith has collected a powerful set of messages in one concise book.   The brevity makes this an easy read, while the content makes it a powerful read.



promo_01Hyrum W. Smith, distinguished author, speaker, and businessman. was one of the original creators of the popular Franklin Day Planner. In 1983 he co-founded the Franklin Quest Company to produce the planner and train users in the time management principles the planner was based on. Hyrum stepped down as Chairman & CEO in 1999 and served as Vice-Chairman of the Board until 2004.

For four decades, he has been empowering people to effectively govern their personal and professional lives. Hyrum’s books and presentations have been acclaimed by audiences world-wide. He combines wit and enthusiasm with a gift for communicating compelling principles that inspire lasting personal change.

Hyrum is the author of several nationally-acclaimed books, including The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, What Matters Most, The Modern Gladiator, and You Are What You Believe.