I recently finished reading The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, and have already personally recommended it to at least 10 people. It’s one of those books that everyone needs to read. Let me tell you why.
On my recent vacation to the gorgeous Caribbean island St. Maarten, I found myself in my favorite place in the world surrounded by my favorite people. One night we had plans to go Salsa dancing, one of my favorite things to do, and the next day a full beach day planned at my favorite spots on the islands. Lots of favorites means total bliss!
The dance night was super fun of course. Then at about 3am I woke up with horrible stomach pain. The kind of pain that said to me, you’re in for a night of horrendous food poisoning. I stumbled to the bathroom, sat down on the tile floor next to the toilet, gripped in pain and imagining my entire family basking on white sandy beaches while I wallowed in the misery of having purged my guts all night. Nooooooooo!
Then a realization hit me like a ton of bricks. My Upper Limit Problem was showing up. Somewhere inside of me I believed I was having too much fun. Something had to come along to knock me down from this pedestal of joy, and it was coming in the form of food poisoning. This I was not going to let happen!
So I started taking slow deep breaths right into the source of the pain. I repeated to myself, “This is your Upper Limit Problem showing up. You are allowed to have this much fun. It’s ok to have this much fun.” After a few calm breaths and repetition of the mantra, I started to feel good again. Making my way back to bed calmly, I slept deeply and woke up the next day ready to go as though nothing had happened.
Does this sound at all familiar to you? You’re having an amazing time and feeling great, then bam! Something comes along that knocks you off kilter and you think, isn’t that just the way it goes? According to Hendricks, it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s something that holds everyone back from being as ecstatically happy as they might like to be, and that is the Upper Limit Problem. Essentially, it’s a belief that it’s not possible for everything in our life to be amazing and flowing optimally all at once. Therefore, if something is going really well for us in our career for example, we may pick fights with our romantic partner so that we’re miserable at home.
The Upper Limit Problem shows up in many ways such as worrying, sickness, injury, blame, criticism, and creating conflict. We aren’t making a conscious choice to do it, but somewhere ingrained deeply within is the idea that we can’t be having so much fun, we can’t be making so much money, we can’t be so in love, we can’t be so happy. So, in some way, we create our own glass ceiling, our own barrier to living in what Hendricks calls our Zone of Genius.
Yet once you become aware of the ways in which you limit your own joy, your own genius, you can start to transform it, and when it does show up you can be amused by it. I am writing this article from a beautiful home in Beverly Hills where I am doggie sitting a darling golden retriever who I have come to adore. Our first night together I took him for a walk, and just as I was feeling flooded with good fortune to be in this gorgeous setting, walking this adorable creature, my mind started to wander off into worry about this or that. Before I knew it, my doggie friend had darted into a flowerbed after a skunk and got sprayed right in the face.
Just moments before I was fantasizing about coming back to the house, curling up with a cup of tea and a book, and going to bed early for a deliciously long night of sleep. Instead I was up late scrubbing poor Buckley’s face and wringing soapy water out of his ears. I couldn’t help but laugh through it though! The Upper Limit Problem had showed up again. How adorably human of me.
Reading the book doesn’t make these issues go away, but I feel poised in a new level of awareness, excited to take the big leap into my zone of genius. Hendricks presents some simple, yet incredibly potent reflection questions to kick you into high gear on your path of doing exactly what it is you were meant to do at this particular time in your life. He then supports you with a powerful mantra for getting you there. I am loving where it’s taking me and am excited for everyone to join me on this journey.
Take action now:
In the comments below, share an insight you gained from reading this article. How does the Upper Limit Problem show up in your life? Do you feel you are living in your Zone of Genius? If not, what’s holding you back?