Book notes: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks book summary review and key ideas.

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The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks


“Most of us believe that we will finally feel satisfied and content with our lives when we get the good news we have been waiting for, find a healthy relationship, or achieve one of our personal goals. However, this rarely happens. Good fortune is often followed by negative emotions that overtake us and result in destructive behaviors. “I don’t deserve this,” “this is too good to be true,” or any number of harmful thought patterns prevent us from experiencing the joy and satisfaction we have earned.

In The Big Leap, Hendricks reveals a simple yet comprehensive program for overcoming this barrier to happiness and fulfillment, presented in a way that engages both the mind and heart. Working closely with more than 1,000 extraordinary achievers in business and the arts, from rock stars to Fortune 500 executives, whose stories are featured in these pages, the book describes the four hidden fears that are at the root of the Upper Limit Problem.

The Big Leap delivers a proven method for first identifying which of these four fears prevents us from reaching our personal upper limit, and then breaking through that limitation to achieve what Hendricks refers to as our Zone of Genius. Hendricks provides a clear path for achieving our true potential and attaining not only financial success but also success in love and life.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I believe I chose this book after a quick search on Amazon. I actually probably found this book because of an Audible recommendation on my front page. For this month, I was mostly looking for highly-rated books that could help give people a mental breakthrough. You know those times when you learn something that gives you an epiphany or some sort of paradigm shift? I think that’s what I was looking for when I decided on this book.

Key notes:

  • Everyone, no matter their success, suffers from the upper limit problem

Chapter 1: preparing for your big leap

  • The comfort zone is not a place for achievers who want to create the life of their dreams
  • Big questions can lead to big rewards 
  • When we achieve the next level of success, the upper limit problem causes us to think we don’t deserve it and adjust our behavior to get back to where we previously were
    • Sort of like adjusting to the thermostat we believe we should be at
    • Newfound success can trip your upper limit switch and plummet you back to the familiar setting you’ve grown used to
    • The upper limit problem is unsolvable in your ordinary state of consciousness
      • It’s only possible by a leap of consciousness
  • Spending a lot of time in your zone of incompetence can cost you a lot of time and money unless it’s for the purpose of mastering a new craft or simply enjoying it
  • Spending more time in your zone of genius will also help you live a life of fulfillment
    • However, your addiction to comfort wants you to stay in your zone of excellence

Chapter 2: making the leap

  • We tend to follow big leaps forward in one area of life with a big setback in another area of life
  • When the big stuff comes up in your relationship, ask your partner if they are willing to join you as an equal partner on a learning journey
    • If the answer is yes, you join together in a relationship of true possibility
    • But if they are more committed to being right than to actual real intimacy, the answer will be something other than yes and you should move on as quickly as possible
  • Hidden barrier #1: Feeling fundamentally flawed
    • Cognitive dissonance occurs when you hold two opposing thoughts at the same time
  • Hidden barrier #2: Disloyalty and abandonment
    • Behind every communication problem is a difficult 10 minute conversation you don’t want to have
      • However once you work up the courage to have it, you get an instant reward and relief as well as open up a flow of conversation that will allow you to resolve the situation
  • Hidden barrier #3: More success brings a bigger burden
  • Hidden barrier #4: The crime of outshining 

Chapter 3: getting specific 

  • Worrying is a sign that we are upper limiting, not working on something crucial
    • Worrying is only useful when it is about a topic we can actually do something about
  • Money arguments almost never have anything to do with money but rather something deeper
  • Your life can change overnight if you drop your addiction to worrying

Reader’s note: A great book that also discusses the topic of worrying is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

  • Sequence of steps to get you out of the worry trap:
    1. Notice you’re worrying about some thing
    2. Let go of the worry thoughts and shift your focus away from them
    3. Wonder what positive new thing is trying to come into being?
    4. You usually get a body feeling of where that positive new thing is trying to come through
    5. Open your focus to feel that body feeling more deeply
    6. Let yourself feel it deeply for as long as you possibly can
    7. You’ll often get the idea of the positive thing that was trying to come through
  • Start to become keenly aware of all the criticism to come out of your mouth and sort them into things you can change and things that are unimportant
  • When someone sends you positive energy, don’t deflect it
    • Sit in the energy for a moment and then thank them
  • Arguments happen between two people who are racing to occupy the victim position
    • The key insight to resolving conflict is to understand that each party has 100% of the responsibility to resolve it
    • That means in a party of two, there’s 200% responsibility to resolve the conflict
    • It is not 100% divided up between the two of them
  • Your exploration will go a lot easier if you have a map
    • The map he uses is called The 3 P’s:
      1. Punishment
      2. Protection
      3. Prevention
        • These can help you understand the real driving force behind many illnesses and accidents
  • Sometimes a physical ailments like a headache or pain somewhere can be a physical manifestation of an upper limit problem
  • Projection is when there is some feeling inside of you that you tried to hide, but then you start to see that and find it in other people
    • If you have some emotion in you that you don’t know how to manage, you seal that emotion away and start trying to manage other peoples versions of it 
  • Operate in the zone of playful curiosity and wonder when learning new things

Chapter 4: Building a new home in your zone of genius

  • Two questions:
    • What is my genius?
    • How can I bring forth my genius in ways that serve both myself and others at the same time
  • Say to yourself out loud: “I commit to living in my zone of genius now and forever”
Genius Questions
  1. What I most love to do?
  2. What work do I do that doesn’t seem like work?
    • You can do it all day long without feeling tired or bored 
  3. In my work, what produces the highest ratio of abundance and satisfaction to amount of time spent?
  4. What is my unique ability?
  • Begin with a fundamental statement such as: “I am at my best when I’m___” 
  • Use a statement like the following to dig a little deeper: “When I’m at my best, the exact thing I’m doing is___”
  • Go even deeper with: “When I’m doing that, the thing I most love about it is___”

Chapter 5: living in your zone of genius 

  • Get out of the box and onto the upward spiral
  • The art of meditation is how you let go of your wandering thoughts and return to your mantra
  • Ultimate success mantra a.k.a. USM:
    • I expand in abundance success and love every day as I inspire those around me to do the same
  • As you recite the USM, pause for a few seconds and sit with the thought
    • Repeat this cycle for several minutes
  • The enlightened no is when you turn down some thing that doesn’t fit into your zone of genius
    • Producing an enlightened no it’s all about strengthening your commitment to living in your zone of genius
  • Inspiring others is good for them but also feels good to you

Chapter 6: Living in Einstein time

  • For your life to work harmoniously, you need to develop a harmonious relationship with time
    • There is no greater priority than transforming your relationship with time
    • Getting a handle on how time actually operates will improve your workflow and productivity
  • Getting the correct understanding of time will immediately pay off by reducing your stress
    • But the big pay off is that it frees up your time for more creative thinking
  • Embrace one profoundly simple truth: you are where time comes from
    • When you realize you are where time comes from, you can make as much time as you want
  • When you are with your beloved, every cell in your body yearns to be in union with him or her
    • Your awareness flows out toward the periphery
    • You want to occupy every possible smidgen of space in the present
    • When you’re in love, you relax into the space around you and in you
    • As your consciousness expands into space, time disappears
      • In these moments you’ll notice that time has slipped forward in great spirits
      • Entire hours can disappear in the wink of an eye
  • Advertising encourages us to want a lot of things we don’t really need
    • It also encourages us to want to do a lot of things we don’t really want to do
  • To get on Einstein time you have to make one big shift
    • It involves taking full ownership of time
  • Part of our problem with is related to the persona we have
    • A persona is a pattern of actions and feelings that came into being at a certain time in our lives in response to certain conditions 
    • Part of growing up is discarding personas that are not contributing to our happiness and success in life
  • To generate an abundance of time, ask yourself this:
    • Where in my life am I not taking full ownership?
    • What am I trying to decide on?
    • What aspect of my life do I need to take full ownership of?
  • Stress and conflict are caused by resisting acceptance and ownership
  • Get yourself in harmony with the idea that you are the source of time
    • The next step is to take a complete abstinence from complaining about time
  • Stop using time or lack of time as an excuse
    • Accept that you either want to do something or don’t, but the amount of time you have will always be enough

Chapter 7: solving relationship problem

  • A vast amount of energy can be liberated from relationships by dropping the habit of projection
  • Most of the energy in troubled relationships is drained through power struggles about who’s right, who is wrong, and who is the biggest victim
    • Healthy relationships only exist between equals
    • When both people aren’t taking on a percent responsibility each, it’s an entanglement, not a relationship
    • The way to solve this problem is to abandon projection and see that they are 100% responsible for their own reality
  • Human beings have twin drives of equal power: The urge to merge and the urge to be an autonomous person
    • For the relationship to thrive, both drives need to be celebrated 
  • If you can learn to take time off from the relationship consciously, you won’t need to do it unconsciously by starting arguments or engaging in other intimacy destroying moves
    • These periods of battery-charging alone time give you the ability to master longer and longer periods of closeness when you are in union with your beloved
  • Put a priority on speaking the microscopic truth, especially about what’s going on inside your emotions
    • Get skilled at simple microscopic truth such as “I am sad” or “I’m scared” or “I’m feeling angry”
    • Communicating my feelings, dreams, desires and other inner experiences creates deep in intimacy in relationships
  • When emotions are in the air, don’t try to talk to yourself or your partner out of them
    • Feelings are meant to be felt
    • Encourage each other to go through complete cycles of emotions
    • It’s the act of stifling and concealing feelings that causes problems in relationships
  • Give yourself and your partner plenty of non-sexual touch
    • Sexual touch is great but human beings need large quantities of non-sexual touch
  • After soaring to new heights of intense intimacy, bring yourself back to ground in a positive way
    • Many people when they enjoy period of deep closeness, unconsciously create an argument or accident to get their feet back on the ground
  • Cultivate and form with with at least three friends a no-upper-limits conspiracy
    • The Latin root of conspiracy means to “breathe together”
    • Feel the power of two more people in harmony working towards a benign goal that’s good for everybody
  • No matter how brilliant we may be at doing certain things, we are all amateurs when it comes to feeling and expressing love
    • It can be good to see yourself humbly as a beginner who is constantly learning
    • We should all adopt an attitude of being open to learning in every moment of our relationships
    • Every interaction contains within it the possibility of deep connection with our beloved, with ourselves, and with the cosmos
  • Relationship is the ultimate spiritual path because it constantly presents us with the challenge to love and embrace in the very situations in which we are most prone to shun and reject
    • For that reason, relationship is the place where our spirituality most visibly comes to light
    • You can tell more about a person’s true spirituality from the way he or she treats his or her partner than you ever could from tallying that person’s church attendance


  • Priority #1: Creating things that make people’s lives better

Closing thoughts:

I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would. I also got more value out of it than I was expecting. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised all around.

What actually surprised me the most was how much this book was about relationships. From the synopsis, title, cover, and what I could gather in the beginning, it seemed like it was going to lead you in the direction of some sort of psychological breakthrough. While it did deliver on that, I thought it was going to be simply from the perspective of your career, life purpose, or towards some goal you’re trying to achieve. This was the way to help you get to the next level in what you’re trying to accomplish.

However, this book was more comprehensively delivering the guidelines to having a breakthrough in your life as a whole. Not only in your career, but also in your relationships. And by the end, the author makes it abundantly clear that the key to a fulfilling life is cultivating strong relationships and the ways to do so. But also what keeps us from getting there.

Overall, this is one of those well-rounded, general, self-improvement type books that touch upon all of the major topics we need to cover when improving our life as a whole. It’s not only about finding our calling, but also how to be effective with our time, improve our mindset, and develop healthy relationships.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

The one takeaway that made the biggest impact on me that I want to implement is:

  • Feelings are meant to be felt

For the longest time, I’ve struggled with how to console someone when they’re expressing emotional pain and are feeling something I’m not feeling at the moment. The advice is always to sit there with the person and empathize with them, but it’s always harder in practice.

Conceptually, this idea helped reorient me to not try and solve their problem logically or try and console them. But it also helped me realize that I’m not just sitting there in silence because that’s the right thing to do. The purpose of listening to them and hearing them out is to allow them to feel their feelings completely and thoroughly. When we conceal our feelings, it causes problems within the relationship.


The key to making a breakthrough in your life is avoiding the upper limit problem by stopping the patterns that keep you at the same level.

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Rating: 4 out of 5.


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