Book Summaries

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

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

In the The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks shows the readers how to go beyond their internal limits, release outdated fears and learn a whole new set of powerful skills and habits to liberate their authentic greatness. 

Favorite Takeaways – The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.


Many of our fears are based on the workings of the ego, the part of us that’s focused on getting recognition and protecting us from social ostracism. In the Zone of Genius, your ego is unnecessary; living there is its own reward. In the Zone of Genius, you cease to care about recognition or ostracism. Once you make a commitment to inhabiting your full potential, your ego is suddenly faced with extinction. It’s been making excuses for you throughout your life. Now, if your commitment to taking your Big Leap is sincere, your ego will need to be shown the door. Unless you’re lucky, your ego will probably not go quietly. It has a lifetime of employment history behind it.

“Fear is excitement without the breath.” – Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt therapy

The very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial.

“The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.”


Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.

Unfortunately, our thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood, before we can think for ourselves. Once programmed, our Upper Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance, and creativity that’s rightfully ours. It keeps us in our Zone of Competence or at best our Zone of Excellence. It prevents us from living in the ultimate destination of the journey—our Zone of Genius.

Upper Limit switch

People often experience big breakthroughs…and then find a way to avoid relishing their achievement. They receive an award at work and then have a screaming argument with their spouse later that same night. They get the job of their dreams and then get sick; they win the lottery, then have an accident. The newfound success trips their Upper Limit switch, and they plummet back to the familiar setting they’ve grown used to.

The Four Main Zones of Competence

Our activities in the world occur in four main zones:

The Zone of Incompetence

The Zone of Incompetence is made up of all the activities we’re not good at. Others can do them a lot better than we can. Surprisingly, many successful people persist in wasting time and energy doing things for which they have no talent. The best way to handle most things in your Zone of Incompetence is to avoid doing them altogether. Delegate them to someone else, or find some other creative way to avoid doing them.

The Zone of Competence

You’re competent at the activities in the Zone of Competence, but others can do them just as well. Successful people often discover that they expend far too much time and energy in this zone.

The Zone of Excellence

In the Zone of Excellence are the activities you do extremely well. You make a good living in your Zone of Excellence. For successful people, this zone is a seductive and even dangerous trap. To remain in this zone is to hobble yourself from taking the leap into your Zone of Genius. The temptation is strong to remain in the Zone of Excellence; it’s where your own addiction to comfort wants you to stay.

“It’s also where your family, friends, and organization want you to stay. You’re reliable there, and you provide a steady supply of all the things that family, friends, and organizations thrive on. The problem is that a deep, sacred part of you will wither and die if you stay inside your Zone of Excellence. There is only one place where you will ultimately thrive and feel satisfied, and that’s…

The Zone of Genius

Liberating and expressing your natural genius is your ultimate path to success and life satisfaction. Your Zone of Genius is the set of activities you are uniquely suited to do. They draw upon your special gifts and strengths. Your Zone of Genius beckons you with increasingly strong calls as you go through your life.

Hidden Barriers

The Upper Limit Problem

When you attain higher levels of success, you often create personal dramas in your life that cloud your world with unhappiness and prevent you from enjoying your enhanced success. This is the Upper Limit Problem at work. In other words, the Upper Limit Problem crosses the boundaries of money, love, and creativity. If you make more money, your Upper Limit Problem may kick in and create a situation that causes unhappiness, ill health, or something else that blocks your enjoyment of your enhanced money supply.

If you meet and marry the love partner of your dreams, your Upper Limit Problem may kick in and cause setbacks in your financial life. In short, you have a tendency to follow big leaps forward in your success with big mess-ups. These mess-ups rubber-band you back to where you were before, or sometimes some place worse. Fortunately, though, if you see what you’re doing in time, you can shift right out of the free fall and point yourself back up toward the sky.

Hidden Barrier no. 2: Disloyalty and Abandonment

When we are stuck behind the barrier of disloyalty and abandonment, our unconscious mantra goes like this:

I cannot expand to my full success because it would cause me to end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots, and leave behind people from my past.

Hidden Barrier no. 3: Believing That More Success Brings a Bigger Burden

An old belief that you’re a burden can hold you back from expanding to your full capacity for success and enjoyment. If this belief has a grip on you, your Upper Limit mantra goes like this:

I can’t expand to my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now.

Hidden Barrier no. 4: The Crime of Outshining

The unconscious mantra of the outshining barrier goes like this:

I must not expand to my full success, because if I did I would outshine _____________________ and make him or her look or feel bad.

This barrier is very common among gifted and talented children. They get a lot of their parents’ attention, but they also get a strong subliminal message along with it: don’t shine too much, or you’ll make others feel bad or look bad. The gifted child is often convicted of stealing attention from other members of the family. One unconscious solution gifted children devise is to turn down the volume on their genius so the others don’t feel threatened by it. The other solution is to continue to shine brightly but turn down the volume on their enjoyment of it. If they can appear to be suffering, they can get empathy and sympathy from others instead of jealousy.



Worrying is usually a sign that we’re Upper-Limiting. It is usually not a sign that we’re thinking about something useful. The crucial sign that we’re worrying unnecessarily is when we’re worrying about something we have no control over. Worrying is useful only if it concerns a topic we can actually do something about, and if it leads to our taking positive action right away. All other worry is just Upper Limit noise, designed by our unconscious to keep us safely within our Zone of Excellence or Zone of Competence.

Criticism and Blame

When we criticize something, it usually doesn’t have anything to do with the thing we’re criticizing. When we blame someone or something, we’re doing it because we’ve hit our Upper Limit and are trying to retard the flow of positive energy.

Morality is about good and bad, right and wrong—all of which are highly arguable. Physics is about did and didn’t, not is and isn’t.

Childhood Scripts

Almost all of us have a story about why we don’t access our genius. When we are within that story, it is very difficult to know that it’s just a story. What makes those stories seem so real (hard to recognize as “just stories”) is that they were being told before we were born. We’re born into stories that keep us from accessing our genius. We grow up among those stories and become like fish that aren’t aware of the water they’re swimming in.

Whatever your story is, the first task is to find it. Identify your family story of why you shouldn’t access your genius. Once you’ve identified it, the next task is to lose your fascination with it. Don’t give yourself a hard time for being fascinated with it; you were born into it just like the rest of us. Just become more fascinated with the story of your Big Leap into the Zone of Genius. Gradually this new fascination with genius will replace the unconscious fascination with the old programmed story.

Hops vs Leaps

Discovering your Zone of Genius is your life’s Big Leap. Everything up until now has been about hops, not leaps. Hopping, though it seems safe, is actually hazardous to your health.

If you confine yourself to hops, you run the risk of rusting from the inside out.

We all need to be on the lookout for signs of our Upper Limit Problem every day of our lives. It’s a constant quest, because we’re always raising the bar on ourselves. The better we get, the better we want to be. Part of us wants very much to live in our Zone of Genius. Yet at the same time, we’re tied down by forces around us. The people around us want us to stay in our Zone of Excellence. We’re a lot more reliable there..


Longing is a persistent, lingering feeling of wanting something you can’t quite get or something you’ve judged unobtainable. If you think there’s still a possibility of attaining it, your longing is flavored by hope. If you think it’s unobtainable, your longing sinks into a bog of despair.


The USM is a comprehensive intention you’ll use to center yourself in your Zone of Genius. It’s a set of instructions to your conscious and unconscious mind, designed to inform all your actions and decisions. Here it is:

I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |