If I had to guess what my most impactful book of the year would be I would definitely have The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks in the running. That is how powerful and helpful it is. (get your Oscar acceptance speech ready, Mr. Hendricks)
I picked this up because the book kept coming up in podcast interviews I was hearing. And now that I finished it, I don't know why I haven't heard about it more. I certainly could have used this book a year ago, two years ago, ten years ago. But, everything comes in its own perfect timing.
Hendricks is a psychologist and noticed a pattern in his patients. When they would finally reach a level of happiness that they wanted, something would seem to sabotage that happiness. We all know what this is like. We get a raise at work, and suddenly the water heater breaks and we have to replace it. We meet the love of our life, but we can't stop bickering and picking fights. We win the lottery and spend it all in three years and wind up broke despite it all.
Hendricks identifies this as an Upper Limit Problem, otherwise called an ULP for silliness (it rhymes with "gulp"). We each have set our own limit internally of how much goodness we think we are worthy of receiving. When we receive more than we think we deserve we do something to sabotage the happiness and knock us back down to "normal." The underlying feeling is "I am not a perfect being, therefore I do not deserve wonderful things."
And it's true. I have never met a person who didn't have some version of the "I'm not good enough" story. Somewhere in our lives we think we're not enough to deserve X. Who knows where we have all picked up this story, because if Anita Moorjani taught me anything I know that this story isn't true.
The three main areas of our life where we sabotage ourselves are finances, success and love. It's no coincidence that these are also areas where we humans tend to gather a lot of our confidence and self-worth.
From Hendricks' experience, the way to turning around the problem is simply opening your eyes to the problem in the first place. The willingness to see the cause of a problem instantly opens up to the possibility of it going away. I know this sounds like magic and that it is too easy to be possible. If you think it is too easy, I direct you to the review about The Tapping Solution. Sometimes easy can be the answer.
The brain certainly has a unique way of solving problems to keep us all safe. When we perceive happiness as being unsafe because we've never experienced it before, then we sabotage it. If we are willing to see things differently and open up to the possibility, the brain creates the space for it to happen. Being able to ask yourself "Am I willing to see this differently? Am I willing to see this as a problem that I made up?" provides the space that the brain needs to move forward to allow the happiness to flow.
A simple meditation that he offers in the book has been a powerful partner for me as I am moving forward. Recognizing my blocks and then saying "I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same." has been a helpful tool.
This is different from the Secret. It is more than just meditating on what you want. He pairs it with action steps which is what he calls the Zone of Competence, the Zone of Excellence and the Zone of Genius.
The Zone of Competence is where you are just fine at completing certain tasks. It still takes a lot of effort for you to do these tasks. Because it takes so much effort for you to do these things and you are doing them just at a competent level, it is probably not wise to build your life around this zone.
The Zone of Excellence are the tasks and skills that you have that you do really well. Because you do these things well, and often it is a special set of skills, you are usually recognized and well compensated for these skills. it is really tempting to stay here because you can create a nice life in the Zone of Excellence. However, and this is the kicker and it is exactly the feeling I was having without the words to name it, "a deep, sacred part of you will wither and die if you stay inside your Zone of Excellence." Perhaps this seems dramatic to you, but it is exactly the feeling I was having.
The sacred part of you quietly asking for your attention is your Zone of Genius. Your Zone of Genius is unique to you and has a million names from other experts like Ken Robinson. It is also called your unique gift, your calling, your flow. And that's why a lotto people get stuck because they can't name what this thing is.
But you don't have to name it. It is the thing where you feel like you are in flow. And you are probably so good and natural at this thing that you take it for granted. Usually you are so much in flow you assume everyone else has this skill as well. I had a moment with one of my best friends last week where I was bragging about find my Zone of Genius, and her response was "Well, duh, you already knew that, right?"
The funny thing is that even if I had asked her years ago to name my genius, I bet she would have struggled. It is just as hard for other people to name our genius as it is for us. They are often incredibly tuned in to it and can offer wonderful clues. But don't rely on them for all the answers.
The tricky part is that we must make the big leap from our Zone of Excellence into our Zone of Genius. It is not like taking steps on a staircase, it is a leap across a ravine to the other side. We must actively choose to do it. And often it lies on the other side of our Upper Limit Problem.
The Call to Genius will come in strange ways. If you've experienced your Zone of Excellence it was easy to fall into it. Maybe you've been doing it for years because it's easy, comfortable and well-compensated. Maybe you've done it for so long you're not quite sure how you got so far in this. The Call to Genius starts like quiet nudges and small pulls and tugs. It rarely makes logical sense, but something about it feels satisfying. If you ignore it, over time the quiet calls turn into loud signals such as physical pain or discomfort, depression, illness, injuries and conflict in major areas of your life.
I deeply desire people to move into their Zone of Genius. I believe I am in my own Zone of Genius, and let me tell you that the water is fine and the view is great from here. But as badly as I want it for others, I know that the only person that can make the leap is you.
I actually wrote this from my Zone of Genius. I was so much in the flow that when Wix had a blip and I lost half my post and I let out an exasperated sigh. I lost my flow and had no clue what I wrote. So whatever this is was re-written from my flow. It's really something I cannot recreate because it came out without thought or effort. And I trust that it's enough and that it's right.
This book will become one of the pillars of how I think and look at my life. I see myself re-reading it over and over again to remind myself that my blocks and limits are completely self-imposed and can be self-removed. If I had a rating system, I would recommend and rate this off the charts. 11 out of 10 stars! Please go get a copy.