Primer: GAP Inspriation Model

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The GAP inspiration model consists of three stages, or levels. Each stage has its own focus, needs, and goals to develop to the next. The important fact of each stage is that they build upon each other but aren’t linear in their association. Meaning you do not have to develop a specifically strong Preservation level to move onto the Association stage. The importance is to work on each stage as much as needed for your specific personality type.

This article is meant to be a primer and introduce you to the primary concepts of the model. The model itself takes inspiration from several social and behavioral sciences. The most influential being Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Maslow does a great job of defining the basic needs of a person to enable them to be happy and healthy. The GAP Inspiration Model builds upon that to explain why some people succeed while others struggle to implement sustainable growth.

GAP Inspiration Model Stages

Preservation Stage

This is our basic state of mind that is ever present in our day today. We crave the basics like; security, food, companionship, and purpose. By satisfying these needs it gives us more energy and willpower to do more and operate at a higher level. If you are not adequately satisfying this state of being it is difficult to operate at higher levels. A great analogy is having difficulty concentrating when you are starving.

The goal at the preservation level is to develop your purpose. What is it that you do and what makes you happy. Remember this is at a fundamental level, you are not answering deeper questions like what you want to do or become. That comes later after you develop the foundation needed to sustain growth.

Association Stage

We are social creatures by nature and are inspired when we interact with others. This is our external self and is vital to our confidence and self-image. We desire interaction, positive self-esteem, acceptance, feedback and belonging. You are focused on how you are doing things and how that related to others. That creates partnerships that will help you develop inspiration and enhance your purpose.

This is where most of us spend our time doing and being. However, without growth, we can begin to feel lost and unfulfilled.

The goal at the association level is to build passion into your purpose. This is achieved through social interactions and improved self-awareness. You will begin to develop a hunger for development fueling your growth.

Growth Stage

This state gives you direction and introduces inspiration into your life. It enhances your association stage so that you have a deeper sense of meaning and positive direction. In the previous stages, the focus was on external forces to help you develop your happiness. In the Association stage [A] your focus was on external areas; like safety, finance, companionships. In the Preservation stage [P] your focus was on social connections. With the Growth stage [G] your focus is internal allowing yourself to develop inspiration.

The goal of the growth level is to turn your passion into inspiration. That will fuel you to continue to develop and achieve great things. This can create a positive loop as inspiration develops passion which in turn develops inspiration. That is the true power of the Growth stage, inspiring yourself and achieving sustainable growth.

If your passion for Growth comes from an external source, such as; motivational speaker or new tool, that is an indication you have not spent enough time on your Preservation or Association levels. True growth happens within and is reinforced by external things.


Each level has its own techniques and tools to achieve the appropriate growth. This model is meant to outline the journey you are on and help to identify and overcome when you slip. It can be applied to Work, Life, Career and Business Coaching. It is a focus on you to empower you to be your best. Through that balanced journey, personal and professional results follow.

GAP Inspiration Model in Practice

Each stage in the GAP Inspiration Model are related but independent. Anyone can jump right into Growth [G] with minimal effort put into Preservation and Association. However, the model also explains the risks of doing that. Coaching, Leadership, and Growth are empowered through proper balance. It is the GAP Inspiration Model’s goal to help people and businesses achieve balance across their life or organization. If someone focuses too heavily on Growth while negating Associations [A] or Preservation [P] they create an unbalanced life that will be unsustainable. Their GAP Profile will look similar to the following:

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Stress management, purpose, stability, security may all be areas that lose focus and eventual cause that person to fail in their journey. Those exist in the Preservation stage [P]. The Association Stage [A] is also important as it represents the social structures and passions that are developed to help us, especially during times of stress. By understanding that, you understand that you are driving yourself too hard in one area and creating imbalance. You can then focus on other areas that make sense to improve based on your personality type. For example, i and S personalities prefer strong Association levels. D and C personalities prefer strong Preservation levels.

The two GAP profiles in brackets below represent healthy profiles. The left bracketed profile represents a D or C personality while the right represents an I or S. The profile does not have to be a perfect pyramid and it will fluctuate based on many factors. The importance is the focus on all areas to balance the three primary areas of the GAP Inspiration model.

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It is through that understanding you can focus on the areas that give you the greatest stability and balance in your life. It also helps you to understand that you cannot pour all of your energy into a single area of life. It creates burnout, imbalance, and eventual failure. That is the primary reason that growth, especially positive habits, fail for so many.

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GAP Inspiration and Leadership

For leaders and coaches, the goal is to focus on Association and creating a positive inspiration loop.

Developing the Preservation and Growth layers are the requirement of the individual more than anything else. Leaders and coaches influence at those levels are minimized. For leaders and coaches, the goal is to focus on Association and creating a positive inspiration loop. That empowers people and teams to become self-sustaining powerhouses through inspiration.

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