How to breakthrough your upper limit

How to Break Through Your Upper Limit

A Review of The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The final book recommendation in my series dedicated to “March, National I Love Reading Month” is none other than The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where things are going amazingly awesome? You are doing all the right things. You are showing up, you’re consistent. Then out of the blue, you make one crappy mistake that is so out of character that you are left thinking…


“See, I knew this was too good to last? I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a successful travel advisor. Successful travel advisors don’t make spelling errors on PNRs and end up having to pay hundreds of dollars and spend countless hours waiting on hold to fix the problem. What a rookie mistake!”

Or some version of that. 

The Big Leap was recommended to me as a game-changer.

The premise of the book is simple yet so powerful…Hendricks suggests that most of us will unconsciously sabotage our own efforts to achieve our ultimate greatness. Just when things are getting really good and juicy, we’ll put up self-imposed upper limit barriers that inhibit us from reaching our personal best.

Why would we do this?

Well. Hendricks suggests that we all have an inner thermostat that is set in our childhood – usually by our well-meaning parents who had theirs set by their equally well-meaning parents and so on, etc.

How to breakthrough your upper limit

The four main barriers that lead to self-sabotage

1. Fear of not being good enough or fundamentally flawed

Ah, such a classic. Very few people go through life without some shade of “I’m not good enough.” or  “Who do you think you are?” 

Who do you think you are to be so successful? You might struggle to remember a time that your parents ever said that to you – hopefully they didn’t. But that will have been the underlying message you walked away with when maybe your mom warned you not to get your hopes up when trying out for the junior varsity volleyball team.

2. Fear of abandonment

Humans thrive on living in a tribe. Nobody wants to be turfed outside the cave for being too braggy pants. The kid who stands out in the schoolyard is often the one who gets picked on. Can’t be that kid – Need to assimilate and become a chameleon. 

3. Fear of the unknown

How many times have you heard someone say (especially women)…Oh, my family comes first. I don’t want to be too successful because that will mean I’ll have to work more hours. Money and success aren’t important to me. My family is. As if to suggest that money, success and family are all mutually exclusive. 

What they are really experiencing are their thoughts about successful women who work outside their homes. None of this fear is rooted in fact.

4. Fear of outshining our peers

Marianne Williamson did a beautiful job summarizing this barrier with her famous poem that says…” Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” As children, we are often encouraged not to outshine our peers. It might make them feel inferior. Have you ever dimmed your light to allow others to shine brighter? That’s sweet but life is not a zero-sum game. There is enough success in the world for both you and your friend.

Gay Hendricks further goes on to suggest that there are three fundamental zones that we live in.

The zone of excellence

The zone of excellence is where most of us end up hanging out. It’s the zone where we earn a paycheck. We show up. Do all the right things but rarely challenge ourselves because there is no need for that. Everything is comfortable. Why risk it? 

Instead, due to the four barriers already discussed, we lie low and try our best to stay off people’s radar.

How to breakthrough your upper limit

The zone of incompetence

The zone of incompetence is the area that we aren’t very good at, don’t like doing but often feel we must, based on some arbitrary expectation that really doesn’t exist.

Me…I hate clearing my house. In fact, I suck at it. Why would I spend my valuable time trying to become good at cleaning my home when there are people out there who find cleaning therapeutic? I just need to find them and pay them for their service. It’s a win-win game for all.

Unfortunately, most of us spend way too much time in our zone of incompetence, especially in the travel industry.

Travel advisors are expected to be both amazing salespeople with lofty sales targets and at the same time, be detailed oriented and methodical. But It is a rare person who excels at both. Our brains aren’t wired to have a zone of genius in competing aptitudes. 

That’s why I often advise agents…as soon as you can hire out the tasks that you aren’t as good at, hire a virtual assistant to handle your documents and check your paperwork. This will free you up to focus on selling and being of the utmost service to your client. That’s when you’ll begin to see your business really grow.

And the way you know it’s time to hire an assistant is when you can no longer take on new business because you are wasting time doing all the admin tasks. You wake up one day and realize it is costing you more money not to have an assistant than to have one. That’s how you know.

The zone of genius – aka, the sweet spot

How to breakthrough your upper limit

When asked, many people struggle to know what their zone of genius is. Probably because they are so innately good at it that they no longer see it as a skill. In fact, they mistakenly think that everyone has the same skill.

I wrote an article a few months back entitled Revealing Your Secret Sauce, Unlocking Your Hidden Talents. This article will help you find your zone of genius if you are struggling to uncover what it might be.

Why do so many of us not find our zone of genius?

Most of us will never take the risk and embrace our zone of genius because it’s just too risky. We think, what happens if I leave my secure job and reach for something inside my zone of genius and then fail? What will we make that mean about ourselves if we can’t succeed in the one thing we are supposed to be gifted at?

It is much safer to choose a profession that our parents want for us or one that we think will make us look more desirable to our friends and neighbours because then if we fail, we can say, well, it was never really my calling. I only became an engineer because my mom and dad paid for my expensive schooling. It was never something I wanted to do.

But as you’ve probably heard, ask most elderly people nearing the end of their days what their biggest regret is, most will say…they regret not taking enough chances. They regret not following their own path – not taking risks – doing what was expected of them and not what they really wanted to do. 

I often wonder, just how many Sistine Chapel-like ceilings never got painted because some little girl’s mom told her to put away her paintbrushes because it was nonsense and instead, it was time to practice her multiplication tables? Maybe that was you?

How to breakthrough your upper limit

What if your zone of genius isn’t selling travel?

If you are reading this, chances are, you are a travel advisor or, at the very least, you work in some capacity attached to the travel industry. Maybe you chose to make this your career because you love to travel. But as so many travel advisors will tell you…getting into this industry because you think you’ll be jet-setting from one country to the next, is not the most likely scenario. The reality is, much of our working hours are spent sitting behind a computer and meeting with clients.

Sure, travel is part of it, and I think there are a lot of opportunities for travel in this industry if you are great at what you do, but a large part of the job is selling and admin.

And maybe you just stayed in this industry because it’s what you know. You’ve been at it so long that you never even stopped to question if it’s really what you love to do. What if your real passion is writing or photography or cooking? Think about that for a moment.

Are you in your zone of genius? Only you can really say. I challenge you to ask yourself that question. Of course, I’m hoping the answer is yes, but as I used to tell team members who asked me why I wasn’t angry when they handed in their resignations in pursuit of another calling…

“Go do what you love with my blessing. Life is meant for living to your full potential. Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.”

I have always believed that we all have our own zone of genius and not finding it, is one of the world’s greatest tragedies.

What if you left the travel industry, wrote the next New York Times bestseller and made enough money to travel to anywhere on the planet you wanted to go…and not just where some FAM trip sent you? You don’t have to give up your love of travel to live inside your zone of genius.

I leave you with that question. Are you working inside your zone of genius and, if not, are you ready to take the Big Leap?


If you missed any of the other books in this series dedicated to the month of March, which is also National I Love Reading Month. Here are my recommended reads for books that changed my life:

Week One: Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

Week Two: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Week Three: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Week Four: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Week Five: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.


Share this post...

Download the 5-Step guide to attracting more quality leads

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Join The Tribe

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Review our Privacy Policy.

I Want to Learn About…

Top Posts