As of this writing, rates of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed, increasing by an incredible 25% in only a few months. This comes as no surprise, given the vast number of reasons to feel stress and worry. Day-to-day tasks can quickly turn into extremely stressful boxes that need checking.
What if you could overcome the causes of your anxiety? Better yet, what if you could simultaneously follow your true calling and find real happiness? Some might consider this a pipe dream, or even ridiculous, but that’s exactly what Gay Hendricks outlines and seeks to solve with his book.
The fear, anxiety, and doubts that come with pursuing success aren’t your only limits. Gay places a lot of the blame on the Upper Limit, and the fear of success itself. Take a look at some of the best takeaways from The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, below!
Gay Hendricks’ Perspective
Gay Hendricks is a teacher, writer, and psychologist with vast experience in the field of personal growth. He’s also very involved in body intelligence and relationship dynamics. Most know him for developing conscious breathing exercises and his personal growth teachings.
Gay obtained his Ph.D. in psychology in 1974 at Stanford University. He took his teachings to the University of Colorado at the Counseling Psychology Department. After founding The Hendricks Institute, he continues his lessons to this day. He’s authored over 35 books with his wife, Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks.
“Life is fullest when we are most true to ourselves.”
– Gay Hendricks
Have you ever had the feeling that you needed just a bit more to achieve happiness, be it effort, money, or otherwise? The Big Leap analyzes what stops most people, and how to overcome those issues.
Gay Hendricks outlines a wide variety of common obstacles to happiness in this title. Many of these seem almost invisible to most people. If you love to read books, you might consider taking a look at this one to learn all about traits that might be holding you back, and different strategies to overcome them and achieve happiness.
StoryShot #1: Learn What You’re Willing to Do
Before any major decision, it’s important to determine how much effort a person is ready to put in to follow through and produce results. This brings you closer to understanding the Upper Limit, a sort of barrier to the best kind of life someone can live. In reference, there are four questions about an individual’s willingness.
The reader has to ask themselves four specific questions regarding will:
- Are you willing to spend more time feeling good every day?
- Are you willing to increase the time that your entire life has better moments?
- Are you willing to both feel good for more amount of time and have it go better all the time?
- Are you willing to take the Big Leap to achieve the highest levels of success in creativity, money, and love?
The average person might feel some resistance when asking themselves these questions. Don’t fret, as this is quite normal. You’re likely accustomed to not feeling higher levels of happiness on average.
This leads to and is caused by, multiple fears. The most common involves a fear of failure regardless of effort. That’s why it’s important to find out what you’re willing to do, commit, and follow through.
StoryShot #2: Pinpoint and Engage Your Fears
You most likely resist happiness due to unnoticeable fears coming from deep within. You might expect these to be fears of failure, embarrassment, trying something new, or misplaced effort. Misplaced effort being any work put into something that might not be your true calling. However, there are also fears of success and achieving one’s full potential.
Yes, whether consciously or not, you might be afraid of getting exactly what you want. The first step to improving is to identify the problems you’re struggling with. So, in order to achieve happiness and take the Big Leap to surpass your Upper Limit, you have to first identify these fears.
Before figuring out what those fears are, though, you might want to take a closer look at the excuses you’re making on a daily basis. These excuses often provide a platform for those fears.
It’s important to understand that your fear of success might be directly tied to the fear of losing the ability to use those excuses. People tend to prefer staying in their comfort zone, which usually requires a wide variety of excuses. Breaking this pattern, and understanding that success doesn’t mean you’ll suffer is the key to overcoming that fear.
One way to deal with certain fears involves breathing exercises. The idea is that fear takes control over the way you breathe. So, if you can take that control back, you can get rid of certain fears. Slow, deliberate, and deep breaths can help you regain your footing in difficult situations.
You might also consider learning to love your fears. They are, after all, a part of your life. Embracing both pain and pleasure is the process of learning awareness. This, in turn, can provide copious amounts of positive energy.
Look into what you’re afraid of, accept it, and engage it completely.
Before jumping into the details regarding the Upper Limit and the Big Leap, it’s important to understand the different life zones that people reside in. People tend to lean into one of these four and do everything in their power to stay where they lean.
These zones are, from bottom to top:
- Zone of Incompetence
- Zone of Competence
- Zone of Excellence
- Zone of Genius
The zone of incompetence has activities that you struggle to learn or focus on. It’s an area that you should spend the least amount of time on. The zone of competence involves things that you, and many others, are good at. It’s usually a better idea to assign these tasks to someone else.
The zone of excellence is where the activities that you’re great at reside. And, while it’s convenient, staying here for too long only leads to suffering.
So, you should find a way to enter your zone of genius. This is where the things that only you can do in your specific style. It’s where you should spend the majority of your time.
StoryShot #4: Recognize Negative Behaviors and Thought Patterns
While climbing the ladder to success and happiness, you might start experiencing negative intrusive thoughts. These can lead to behaviors that aren’t conducive to productive days. You’re more likely to experience these the closer you get to achieving your goals.
This is one of the most significant variables that can prevent someone from taking the Big Leap and surpassing their upper limit. So, it’s important to take some time, every day, to take note of what these negative thoughts and behaviors might be. The sooner you recognize them, the better.
The most common examples include useless worry, blame and criticism, deflecting, and consistent argumentation.
Getting close to achieving a goal can cause seemingly random anxiety. You’re exactly where you want to be on the path, right? Well, this is when people tend to become outcome-dependent and start imagining scenarios where things can go wrong.
You can calm these worries with two questions:
- Are your worries realistic?
- Is there anything you can do about the worries you have?
Answering no to both of these questions means that you’re spending time on useless worries. You should take action right away. Consider acknowledging the useless worries and focusing on something else. You can also try highlighting the positive things happening in your life at that moment.
Deflection involves disregarding positive energy in your life to stay in your comfort zone. The most common example of this is to disregard a compliment. Embrace positive energy, even when it might feel uncomfortable to do so.
Consistent arguments are another sign of discomfort, and an effort to go back to feeling comfortable. It’s usually a power play or effort directed at becoming the victim in a given situation. This, of course, liberates a person of responsibilities, making it easier to pin the consequences of one’s actions on someone else.
If you can understand this dynamic, you can take on 100% of the responsibility for your actions, putting the power back into your hands. When you’re not a victim, it means you have the ability to respond to a situation appropriately.
It’s extremely important to avoid assuming the role of the victim in any situation.
Blame and Criticism
Criticism and blame are some of the most addictive mannerisms in existence. They’re very low-effort ways to avoid accepting one’s reality. While they don’t provide positive feelings, they do allow a person to protect their ego and stay in their comfort zone.
These behaviors are also signs of envy. Avoid defending your ego by putting others down and you’ll notice a significant increase in positive energy in your life.
StoryShot #5: Avoid Your Addiction to Comfort
Many believe that the comfort zone earned its name because it’s a safe place for one to reside. However, the exact opposite is true. The comfort zone is where you’re most in danger.
See, the comfort zone is a place where one involuntarily places a fixed limit on their capacity for success and happiness. And, the worst part is, that it doesn’t require much effort to reach the ceiling of those fixed limits in this zone. Thus, people are drawn to the idea of “why work harder if I’m not going to get any more from it?”.
The Big Leap involves the concept of breaking out of your comfort zone, jumping past your zone of excellence, and finding your spot in the zone of genius. So, if you don’t feel some discomfort in your current situation, you’re likely stuck in your comfort zone.
Understand that the limits you’ve set for yourself are imagined and that some discomfort and revolutionize your life. Often, a good way to start is by reading books that are relevant to your goals, or book summaries like this one to save some time.
StoryShot #6: Accept That It’s Ok to Be Happy
On the topic of limitations, most people believe that they don’t even deserve to be happy. Disregard this belief system entirely. Dreams, aspirations, and hopes aren’t innately unobtainable. Rather, people rationalize why they don’t deserve them.
This quandary presents itself in two forms. The first is that people don’t believe in their capacity to achieve their goals. The other involves the belief that once they’ve achieved their dreams, they will be short-lived.
So, the limiting factors are two-fold. People avoid putting in effort because they don’t think they’ll make it. Some people do put in the work and reach a higher level. But they start experiencing intrusive thoughts and sabotage themselves with worries. These behaviors are exactly what turn those worries and concerns into a reality.
This is known as the Upper Limit Problem. Keep an open mind! It’s essential that you understand that you do deserve happiness and success.
StoryShot #7: Achieving the Zone of Genius
As previously established, fear and worry are two of the most limiting factors for people when it comes to finding success and happiness. Achieving or entering your zone of genius involves, of course, reducing these two factors as much as possible.
One of the ways you can start entering your zone of genius is through affirmations. The proper way to implement affirmations is by speaking them out loud in a soft voice. Slowly, raise the volume of your voice until it feels like you’re speaking these affirmations to the entire world.
While it might seem like a silly concept, these affirmations can make all the difference. One example is, “I am committed to using all my efforts to find my spot in my zone of genius, where I can find my success and happiness, and contribute to the world.”
StoryShot #8: Trick Your Subconscious
Affirmations help you ensure that you’re on the right track. However, and perhaps more importantly, they work to trick your subconscious into getting what you want. Your subconscious can’t differentiate what’s real or not from what you feed it.
So, the statements and thoughts that you make are perceived as completely real by your subconscious. You can take complete and total advantage of this by making the right affirmations.
It’s an especially useful strategy when you’re struggling with a decision. This could, for example, involve making a decision for a major or picking a job. Affirm to yourself that you’re capable and that it’s just a matter of picking what you most enjoy.
If you feel that you’re capable, you automatically let go of the aforementioned fears and useless worries. This is also key for achieving the zone of genius.
StoryShot #9: Staying on Track With the Enlightened No
Achieving the zone of genius isn’t where the story ends. Both on the path, and in the zone of genius, you have to learn to use the Enlightened No. This is an essential strategy to avoid distractions and make sure you’re staying on course.
It’s not as easy as it might seem. Saying no to obvious distractions is an easy task. The Enlightened No is all about refusing to stray from your path, no matter how seemingly attractive some alternative actions might appear.
For example, let’s say you’re intent on becoming a software developer. It’s your passion, and you’ve determined that it’s where you feel most in your zone of genius. But, a friend presents another career option.
Your friend says that this other career will pay double what you could potentially earn as a software developer. They’re even ready to lend you some of the best books available for that career.
Accepting this offer, in some cases, and shifting your focus will remove you from your zone of genius. And, no matter what other benefits this alternative might bring, you’ll slowly drop to lower zones.
Thus, the Enlightened No is a method that you need to use to determine if a certain decision will keep you in your zone of genius. And, if it doesn’t, then it’s important to refuse the opportunity and stay focused on the software development career used in the example.
Of course, if another opportunity shows up and matches the purpose behind your zone of genius, it’s worth giving it a shot. Otherwise, the Enlightened No will ensure that you avoid distractions and put all of your effort into what you’ve determined to be your true calling.
StoryShot #10: Become the Master of Your Time
Many consider time to be the primary cause of conflict and stress. Time management, as many would assume, is essential for building a foundation for success and happiness. People tend to create barriers, using time as an excuse.
They’ll say that they either don’t have enough time on a daily basis or that they’re too late in life to achieve their goals because they don’t have much time left. This is considered the Newtonian time. So, it’s not just about managing your work week.
The truth is, you are the master of your time. You can create or destroy it, and you can’t find it from anywhere or anyone else. So, you have to take ownership of it and understand that it’s your responsibility.
Shift your focus from complaining about time to learning to admit that it’s your job to properly create and manage it. This completely changes your perspective. It means that you’re more likely to create a schedule that’s conducive to reaching your goals.
This is known as living in Einstein time and understanding that time comes from ourselves. Everyone has the same 24 hours every day. Taking ownership of this time and managing properly is another one of the essential building blocks for finding success.
The Big Leap: Final Summary
The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, is an approachable title for people interested in finding a way to make serious progress in life. It’s an opportunity for individuals to look inwards and defeat the various traits that are holding them back from achieving authentic happiness. It covers a variety of seemingly complex topics, while also offering unique and approachable strategies to work around and with them.
Issues like understanding your willingness and identifying and dealing with your fears stand out. Once you’ve determined whether or not you’re willing to take the Big Leap, you should start taking a look at the fears that might be hidden within. You might be surprised to find that you’re actually afraid of success, in and of itself.
There’s also plenty to learn in The Big Leap when it comes to identifying and navigating life zones, negative behaviors, and negative thought patterns. Keeping these in mind while you’re working towards your goals can help make sure you stay on the right path throughout the entire process.
You’ll also more likely find, and maintain, success if you can avoid your comfort zone and accept that it’s ok to be happy. Comfort might be a signal that you’re not living to your full potential. And, this might be because you secretly feel that you don’t deserve to be happy.
Finally, you can use certain tools to remove factors that limit your success. Affirmations are a great way to do this, as they trick your subconscious into believing a reality that might not, well, be real. When you’re feeling distracted, you can always turn to use the Enlightened No to make sure that your actions are aligned with your goals. The final tool is time management and the understanding that you create your own time.
Here’s a look at the key takeaways for quick reference:
- Learn What You’re Willing to Do
- Pinpoint and Engage Your Fears
- Identify and Navigate the Different Life Zones
- Recognize Negative Behaviors and Thought Patterns
- Avoid Your Addiction to Comfort
- Accept That It’s Ok to Be Happy
- Achieving the Zone of Genius
- Trick Your Subconscious
- Staying on Track With The Enlightened No
- Become the Master of Your Time