page title icon Book Summary Review: The Big Leap By Gay Hendricks

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Have you ever backed out of something at the beginning, middle, or the last minute? It could be a new project, a new job, or even an event. If such has ever happened to you, you already know the embarrassment and anger, among other negative feelings, that follow. What has been the main hindrance to your success? While many think that money is the main challenge, Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap, notes that the main problem that holds us back is the “Upper Limit Problem.” At the beginning of the book, Gay argues that he is yet to meet an individual who has never suffered from at least a little bit of the Upper Limit Problem.

What is an Upper Limit Problem?

As per Gay’s definition, it refers to unconscious self-sabotage that occurs when one tastes something great, such as a promotion, a financial windfall, or a great relationship. In this case, every individual has an imaginary limit that rules how much good they allow themselves to feel. Once you have felt all the good feelings after attaining success in a project or finishing up some tasks, you tend to get into a self-destructive cycle with the main aim of making yourself miserable. Later, you go back to doing things you feel good about, and such behavior ends up building a never-ending process, as the below diagram shows. 

After knowing that you have an issue with the Upper Limit and you have been going through cycles, how can one prepare for a big leap and conquer? According to Gay, if you want to destroy the Upper Limit, you must answer the following questions.

  1. Am I willing to increase the amount of time every day that I feel good inside?
  2. Am I willing to increase the amount of time in which my whole life goes well?
  3. Am I willing to feel good and have my life go well all the time?
  4. Am I willing to take the Big Leap to my ultimate level of success in love, money, and creative contribution?

If you said yes to the above four questions, you are ready for the BIG LEAP. If you find yourself answering no to a few, it is hormonal. We are cultured not to let ourselves feel happier. In most cases, we hear a voice saying, “Hey, it is not allowed to feel this good.” For example, if you get a 90% score, you will likely say, “I would have succeeded if I received a 100%.” The reason you can’t celebrate the 90% score is that you have an Upper Limit Problem.

How do you solve the Upper Limit Problem?

As per Gay, this issue is not resolved in the usual way other issues are solved, including gathering or replacing information with other information. On the contrary, the Upper Limit Problem should be dis-solved and not solved. Such is done by exposing its false foundations under the laser beam of awareness. Under the laser beam of awareness, the Upper Limit Problem’s false foundations disappear. Four main zones affect an individual’s development or solving of the Upper Limit Problem, including;

  1. The Zone of Incompetence: Your performance is poor on some things, while others may be good at them. Unfortunately, many successful people spend much time doing things in which they lack skills. If freed from this zone, you get rewarded with a remarkable new feeling of energy and zest for living. If you are not good at something, delegate it.
  2. The Zone of Competence: Things you are good at, but others may be better. What should you do with such? As per Gay, such activities should be delegated to free up time.
  3. The Zone of Excellence: Things you are good at. Unfortunately, they may present a dangerous and seductive trap. If you stay for long in this zone, you might die.
  4. The Zone of Genius: Things only “you” can do well. For such, spend about 70% of your time doing them.

Chapter 2 of the book talks more about “making the leap.” According to Gay, the Upper Limit Problem hinders people from enjoying life’s highs in various areas, including creativity, finances, and relationships. Four main fears linked to false beliefs establish the basis of the problem. If you can successfully challenge the fears, it will be easier to dissolve the Upper Limit Problem. The four fears are:

  1. Feeling Fundamentally Flawed: If you always feel inadequate, chances are that you may never eliminate the Upper Limit Problem.
  2. Disloyal and Abandonment: The head voices that say, “I can’t be successful as I’d be alone, abandoning the people of my past behind.” If you want to determine whether you have this issue, answer the questions below.
    1. Did I break my family’s spoken or unspoken rules to be where I am?
    2. Did I fail to meet my parents’ expectations?
  3. Believing that being successful brings a greater burden: Some people avoid being successful for fear of facing more significant burdens. According to Gay, people with this issue were likely considered a burden or a mistake as a child.
  4. The crime of outshining: Fearing to be good in order to outshine others. If you face such an issue, you were probably told by your parents to tone down so as not to outshine your siblings.

Do you have an Upper Limit Problem in your Daily Life?

In chapter 3 of the book, “Getting Specific,” Gay helps readers examine if they have an Upper Limit Problem” in their daily lives. The Upper Limit clues include;

  1. Worry: When you reach the Upper Limit, you tend to worry about going wrong. Fortunately, if you examine your worries, you will realize that none have anything to do with reality. How can you fight your worries? Firstly, notice them, shift away focus from them and focus on the positive.
  2. Criticism and blame: Like worry, criticism has nothing linked to reality. If you find yourself criticizing someone, it has nothing to do with them. On the contrary, you do it because you have hit the Upper Limit. Critiquing is a way of trying to retard the positive energy flow.
  3. Deflecting: Refusing to receive compliments is another clue that indicates one hitting the Upper Limit. When someone compliments you, you should say thank you and let the flow of positivity come in.
  4. Squabbling: Creating drama and arguments is a common way people bring themselves down after hitting the Upper Limit. If you start viewing arguments and drama as Upper Limit symptoms, chances are you will make a significant breakthrough by getting beyond them.
  5. Getting sick, getting hurt: When things start going well, some people tend to get hurt or ill, which is a good indicator of the Upper Limit Problem. However, it is good to note that not all sicknesses and accidents are Upper Limit symptoms. Some are genuine. 
  6. Others: Hiding feelings, failure to keep agreements and dishonesty are Upper Limit indicators.

Building the Zone of Genius

Chapter 4 discusses building a new home in the Zone of Genius. According to Gay, if you discover the Zone of Genius, you will have discovered your life’s Big Leap. If you decide to stay in the Zone of Excellence, you may kill the life inside you. It needs commitment if you want to leap into the Zone of Genius. Decide you want to do it. If you don’t, it will probably never happen. After deciding to pursue the Zone of Genius, define it. What is your Zone of Genius? As per Gay, your Zone of Genius is that one thing you have a burning desire to pursue. 

How Can I identify my Zone of Genius?

If you want to identify this zone, ask yourself these four questions;

1. What do I most love to do, so much that I can do it for long periods without getting tired or bored?

2. What work do I do that doesn’t feel like work?

3. In my work, what produces the highest ratio of abundance and satisfaction to the amount of time spent?

4. What unique ability or skill with the most value can I provide?

Once you have successfully broken the Upper Limit Problem, the next work involves learning to live in the Zone of Genius. Maintaining this zone requires a success mantra to bring you back to awareness. Learn to use this mantra regularly, think about it, and feel it. In addition, periodically meditate on it.

A good mantra includes;

I expand in abundance, success, and love every day as I inspire those around me to do the same.

The top 10 Takeaways

  1. People tend to resist happiness; however, controlled breathing helps in overcoming fear.
  2. Many believe they deserve limited happiness. In this case, they sabotage themselves when times are too good.
  3. Letting go of worries improves your life.
  4. Success lies in the Zone of Genius, so explore what you love to do.
  5. Accept that it is okay to be happy.
  6. Have a success mantra. It will help you to stay at the Zone of Genius
  7. Avoid being addicted to comfort.
  8. Pinpoint and engage your fears.
  9. Identify and navigate your different life zones, including the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence, and the zone of genius.
  10. Trick your subconscious by using the right positive affirmations.

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