The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
One Line Summary
Blast through your internal upper limits
Why it’s Awesome
“In my life I’ve discovered that if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.”
-Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap
Have you ever felt like you have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake when it comes to making a change in your life?
It’s an extremely common thing. Part of you wants to move forward, but part of you is resisting. If this is the case, you may be encountering what Gay Hendricks calls in The Big Leap an “upper limit problem”.
An upper limit problem is when you’ve reached the maximum amount of success possible with your current belief structure. You are at the “upper limit”, and the only way to progress is to change your beliefs.
I’ll give you an example. When I was in high school, I had a belief that I was a lazy person. I very rarely stuck it out on anything I worked on and never seemed to achieve much success. In fact, many times I wouldn’t even try to succeed because I assumed I wouldn’t have the work ethic to follow through. I was self-sabotaging myself without even realizing it.
Of course, that only reinforced the fact that I was a lazy person who would never accomplish much. I can remember breaking down and crying, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just do what I knew I should be doing?
I managed to get into Rutgers University, but my grades were so bad that eventually I thought I might fail out of school. I was forced to work harder than I had ever worked in order to turn things around. That semester I got a 3.4 GPA and almost couldn’t believe it. It was by far the best I’d ever done.
Something interesting happened after that experience that I could have never anticipated or explained until now. Work suddenly seemed a lot easier for me. It felt like I had slayed this dragon of resistance and procrastination. When I started a project, I had much more discipline to follow through. I started getting better and better grades in school and began having incredible success in other areas of my life. Now, just about all I do is work. I love it.
What happened is that I was facing an upper limit problem. I believed I was only capable of a certain level of work and success, and so it became true. By being forced to break through my upper limit, my belief structure slowly started to shift. I got more and more reference experiences that caused me to identify as a person who “worked hard” and “got what he wanted” instead of someone who was “lazy” and “always failed”. The more I believed it, the more it also became true, which made me believe it even more. I entered into an upper spiral of awesomeness.
The craziest part of this whole experience is that for a while, I still felt like a lazy person who was fooling people into thinking I worked hard. When you have an upper limit problem it just seems so fucking real. You’d bet your life it was true.
That is the power of what we’re talking about here. One simple shift in your identity and worlds that you probably never even dreamed of start to open up.
What would that be worth to you? If you had an upper limit problem, what would you be willing to do to find out?
That’s where this book comes in.
It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has an upper limit to their own success. Gay Hendricks is a master of asking exactly the right questions for you to figure out what is yours.
That’s the value of reading The Big Leap. Sure, it’s nice to understand all the theory around upper limit problems. But what really counts is self-awareness. Your own thoughts will trick you in this game and sometimes you need an outside force to shine the light on what you’re not seeing. If you answer the questions he gives you and do the exercises, you will have a much better understanding of who you are when you’re done.
Why Does It Suck
This book is for everybody but it’s written in a way that will probably only appeal to people who are already high achievers. He talks about going from “The Zone of Excellence” to “The Zone of Genuis” constantly throughout the book. That’s fine, but for the majority of people I’m sure they’d be happy just to get to the Zone of Excellence.
I also don’t agree with Hendricks perspective on Time Management. Basically he argues that “you are the source of time” and that you should believe you have all the time you need.
It’s an interesting thought. And I can see how that belief might be useful if you’re a person who constantly feels like they don’t have enough time. But personally I want to treat my time as extremely valuable. You don’t get it back and spending time on one activity means forfeiting it on another. To just tell people “you have all the time you need!” is an open opportunity to rationalize ineffective behavior.
The Wrap Up
The Big Leap is a fantastic book for developing self-awareness and taking your life to that next step. But while any can benefit from reading it, it’s likely only going to resonate with certain people. Someone like Tony Robbins might be a better option to read in order to really examine your beliefs.