I often get asked for book recommendations by my clients to elevate their performance and bring the best of themselves into their work.
A book that I come to time and time again is ‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendricks. Gay Hendricks has a PhD in psychology from Stanford and the book is something I’ve read cover to cover more than 10 times. I have summed up here today a few key takeaways to help you ‘Conquer Your Hidden Fears and Take Life to the Next Level.’
Every day we see people doing extraordinary things in sport, business, career, and life in general and so often we think ‘no ways, I couldn’t pull that off’.
Yet in reality, all around us, there are ordinary people taking big leaps in their lives. In my work I see people overcome their self-doubt and take the leap to maximize their fullest potential and make the most that life has to offer.
Now you don’t need to pull off a superhuman stunt to be this person. All you need is the keenness and the willingness to learn how to make real change.
The top themes from The Big Leap:
1) We as human beings have an internal thermostat or ‘upper limit’ – we get quite used to living within this upper limit.
We get used to living within certain parameters and aren't very good at getting comfortable with ‘true’ success or feeling fulfilled and ‘happy’. We tend to live below this ‘upper limit’ and can’t seem to take our lives beyond the level of success we are used to. In fact, we get quite used to living in these parameters and spend quite a lot of time complaining about or lives yet can’t break through this limit or self-imposed glass ceiling.
2) There are four main barriers to breaking through your upper limit.
Hendricks details four common barriers to the reason that we can't seem to break through the ‘upper limit’. The most common one (and the one that I see pretty much within all my clients) is the deep-seated feeling that you are in some way not good enough, not worthy, not deserving.
I see how even high achieving people have the self-limiting belief that they are not ‘good enough’. They have a deep-seated fear of what it would be like to truly step into and live and achieve their fullest potential. And the thinking they have is this:
“If I were to take that big leap, to go all in to be the best version of myself that I could possibly be, well then there would be no reason for me to explain away why I may not have succeeded, why I may have failed.”
If you go all-in and then fail, well then what does it mean about you as a person? It is sometimes easier to play it safe and hold back rather than take that big leap through your upper limit.
3) We subconsciously self-sabotage to keep us from breaking through our upper limit.
As we are not particularly good at embracing or being comfortable with ‘success’, we can subconsciously find ways to get stuck within living below our self-imposed ‘upper limits’.
We are quite used to getting stuck in that space and living within certain parameters. When we start to get close to our upper limits, subconsciously we are aware we are moving into unchartered territory. Quite often we can then subconsciously self-sabotage our progress through excessive worrying and fear, obstacles appearing in our way, drama, arguments, accidents etc.
I am sure you have seen this in others: as soon as something is going well in their life, suddenly something comes up to scupper their progress. Just as you think, ‘wow this person is taking life to the next level’, then something happens to derail them. Hendricks explains this is our internal thermostat throwing us off and subconsciously creating situations that will prevent us from breaking through our upper limits.
He says worry is a very common self-saboteur. When you worry a lot, you can become anxious and fearful, and it can hold you back from breaking through that self-imposed glass ceiling.
When you start to notice that you are worrying more than usual, instead of holding back from whatever it is you are working on, rather ask yourself, ‘am I worrying more because I am close to finally breaking through my upper limit?’
Perhaps now is not the time to shrink back or hold back. Perhaps it is the time to make that big leap!
4) Step out of the zone of excellence into your zone of genius.
Hendricks explains that most high achievers operate from their zone of excellence.
The zone of excellence is when you work hard and get good results, but you are left feeling unfulfilled and that you are not yet making the most of your true gifts.
In your zone of excellence, the work that you're doing is more for the benefit of others, which is not in itself a problem, but you are not getting the same level of fulfillment you would get in zone of genius. When you are operating from your genius zone everything you do is of the greatest contribution to others and the world around you while at the same time finding fulfillment, satisfaction, and the chance to make the most of your unique and innate gifts.
5) Learn to say no.
When you have finally taken the Big Leap to break through your glass ceiling, you want to keep yourself in that place. And that is going to take practice because as a high achiever you are used to saying ‘yes’ and taking on things that you can do and feel perhaps you should do, but that are not in your true ‘genius’ zone, leaving you unfulfilled or that you are not making the most of who you are, A clear, firm and polite no will keep you in your genius zone and not drag you back down below your previously confining upper limit!
6) Go on a complaining diet.
When we live below our perceived upper limit, we get a little stuck and most of us spend a great deal of our time complaining because we aren't exactly where we really want to be. I am guilt of this frequently!
So, when you find yourself complaining see it as a sign that you have not yet broken through that upper limit and put your energy into taking the big leap rather than spending your time and effort complaining.
7) Take control of your time.
When I hear somebody say, ‘I just don't have the time’ what I really hear is you don't care enough to make the time. Do not use a ‘lack of time’ as a limiting belief holding you back from stepping into your fullest potential.
Rather than complaining about a lack of time, take control of the situation and work out where you are going to spend your time, where you are going to put your focus.
Favorite line from The Big Leap:
One of my favorite lines in the book is about taking that ‘fog of fear and turning it into the clarity of exhilaration’.
If you sense that you have some unrealized potential within you, if you are a little fearful of what tapping into your full potential may really be like for you, then you are on the brink of something great. You are on the precipice of making great change.
I encourage you to not be frightened of your own potential. I encourage you to get comfortable with the fact that you do have a unique gift, that you do have a superpower and genius zone. I encourage to you work on taking the steps to breakthrough your glass ceiling and owning your full potential.