Book Review: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks


In The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks dives into a common challenge many of us have—self-imposed limits on our success and happiness.

He introduces the concept of the Upper Limit Problem, which is essentially a tendency to sabotage our progress with deep-seated fears and limiting beliefs. Hendricks then offers a practical approach for overcoming our Upper Limit by discovering our unique Zone of Genius, unlocking our full potential, and achieving success that combines financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and personal satisfaction.

My thoughts

Multiple people recommended The Big Leap to me numerous times. It took me a few tries before I got into it, but don’t let that dissuade you. I simply needed to stop fighting my ADHD and download the audiobook—Hendricks reads the book himself and does a beautiful job!

When I finally read it, I understood why friends kept recommending it.

I particularly enjoyed that The Big Leap was more than just a theoretical guide. The book's practical approach to uncovering and overcoming limiting beliefs aligns well with my personal and professional journey of mindfulness and self-improvement.

After reading The Big Leap, I had two big realizations. First, after decades of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD and hearing over and over that I wasn’t living up to my potential, I had a deeply held belief that I was flawed. That reaching my full potential was simply beyond my capabilities.

My second realization was that I was afraid to outshine my peers. Growing up in the Soviet Union and being labeled as “gifted” meant that I was getting much negative attention from my peers for sticking out—something that the Soviet society highly discouraged. Needless to say, I was motivated not to stick out.

I’m glad Hendricks took the time to write the book. (And I’m glad my friends kept insisting I read it.)

Key takeaways

  1. Understanding the Upper Limit Problem: This concept shows how we often subconsciously limit our progress. Realizing this is crucial because it uncovers why we sometimes sabotage our happiness and success. To implement this in your life, start by noticing moments when you hold yourself back, whether due to fear, guilt, or feelings of undeserving. Acknowledge these moments without judgment and consciously challenge them.
  2. Identifying Your Core Fear: The four fears (being flawed, abandonment, success, outshining others) each affect how we limit ourselves. Identifying which fear impacts you the most is essential for personal growth. Reflect on your reactions in different situations to pinpoint your core fear, then work through it with self-reflection, journaling, or professional coaching.
  3. Finding Your Zone of Genius: Your Zone of Genius is where you thrive the most, combining what you love doing with what you are exceptional at. Identifying and operating in this zone is critical for lasting fulfillment. To find it, ask yourself what activities give you the most joy and make you lose track of time, and then find ways to incorporate more of these activities into your daily life.
  4. Challenging Limiting Beliefs: Changing the beliefs that limit you is about reshaping how you view yourself and your capabilities. This is critical for personal development. Practice mindfulness to become aware of these beliefs and gradually replace negative thoughts with positive, empowering ones.
  5. Embracing Continuous Growth: Adopting a mindset geared towards continuous learning and growth allows you to turn challenges into opportunities. This mindset is essential for ongoing development. Set small, achievable goals, learn from failures, and celebrate small wins to cultivate this mindset.
  6. Balancing Success with Fulfillment: Achieving a balance between your professional accomplishments and personal happiness is vital for a well-rounded life. This involves setting clear boundaries, prioritizing tasks that align with your values, and ensuring that your pursuit of success does not come at the cost of your well-being.