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

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the big leap bookThe Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level
by Gay Hendricks, PhD
Harper One, 2009

The Idea
When something good happens to you is your response, “I don’t deserve this” or “Well, that was a fluke” and then, consciously or subconsciously you sabotage yourself, your idea or situation?

Gay Hendricks calls this phenomena the Upper Limit Problem and shares his philosophy of why we self-sabotage or constrain ourselves in his 2009 book, The Big Leap.

The title refers to Hendricks idea that many of us need to recognize the four hidden barriers that stand in our way and how to make the “big leap” from our everyday successes (what he calls the Zone of Excellence) to our Zone of Genius, the place where we are drawing on our special gifts and strengths; a place that leads to “your ultimate path to success and life satisfaction.

Recommended For
The person who:

  • Enjoys personal development books
  • Wants to fully embrace their innate skills to create “success and abundance” (more on this later) for themselves and others
  • Appreciates a mix of anecdote and scientific research (Hendricks has a PhD in Psychology, served as a full professor at the University of Colorado and is co-founder of the Hendricks Institute)
  • Is willing to filter through noise to discover nuggets that are simple, yet profound


The Pros
The basic concept of the book, that we limit ourselves in our own successes and if we can identify those limitations, we can eliminate them, makes sense. He identifies five areas, providing ways to identify them and tips on how to counter them.

While it took me a while to finish the book, I felt like every time I opened it, I read something that resonated with me.  As a reviewer on GoodReads.com so eloquently stated, “Love the idea of the book… the metaphors are a bit California Life Coach-y, but if you forget those verbal shortcuts, the concepts themselves are both simple and powerful.” It’s an easy book to take away what works for you and leave the rest behind.

The Cons
Like many of the personal development books I’ve read, this book was too long. Hendricks could have delivered his philosophies, their scientific backing and the supporting anecdotes in a shorter manuscript.  In addition, with fewer words and shorter stories, there’s more opportunity for the concepts to have a stronger impact.

The tenets of this book could also be seen as ethereal which may be a con for some readers. Hendricks talks about mantras, sharing his Ultimate Success Mantra (“I expand in abundance, success and love, every day and I inspire those around me to do the same”). Any time authors/ academics use words like abundance, mantra and positive energy, a red flag flies.

Toward the end of the book, Hendricks tackles the concept of time. A con due to its ethereal nature, but once I completed the chapter, I understood the concrete issue behind it. He talks about Newtonian time vs. Einsteinian Time. Newtonian time is where we are the slave to the clock, but in Einsteinian time we make our own time. Think about it – it’s the concept of I need to (Newtonian) vs. I get to (Einsteinian), the idea that I can produce as much time as I want for the things I want to do. Makes sense, right?

To Buy or Not to Buy
I borrowed it from the library and even though I renewed it once, I wouldn’t purchase it. Hendricks published a companion book, The Joy of Genius, in 2018 that I would borrow, but overall I’m not enamored with his writing style enough to purchase either for my personal collection.

Shared Insight
I am experimenting with the Ultimate Success Mantra, writing it, thinking about it and saying it in my own words several times a day. I figure it can’t hurt to share some positive energy with the universe and see what I get in return and share with each of you.

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