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Customer Review

518 of 542 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Going From Success to Genius..., January 8, 2010
This review is from: The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level (Hardcover)
...But first you have to be a success.

The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, is another personal learning book following an idea of coming to a fundamental realization that will help you better yourself. In this case, the central hidden realization we can come to is that when we begin to enjoy great success in some area of our lives, we tend to create problems in that or another area of our lives. We do this because we hit our "upper limit" of happiness, financial success, joy in a relationship, or any of a number of other things, and this upper limit causes us to unconsciously sabotage ourselves or even make ourselves ill. Dr. Hendricks explains that we may have one or more of four hidden barriers that activate our upper limit self-sabotage. The four hidden barriers are caused by: 1 - feeling fundamentally flawed, 2 - disloyalty and abandonment issues, 3 - believing that more success brings a bigger burden, and 4 - the perceived crime of outshining. When we learn to break through our barrier, we can move into the zone of genius (assuming that we've already been in the zone of excellence).

If you are a "Type A" personality, a perfectionist, or a workaholic, this book may be for you. As he is apparently all three of those, I can visualize all of this whole line of thought and the suggested action steps as being very plain to Dr. Hendricks, and can visualize him blissfully laying this all out in the course of writing this book. It's as if he's saying, "Come on - you can do this! It's easy. Look - I've worked it all out. Here are our issues, here is what we need to understand, and here's what we do about it." But much of it is basically a foreign language to people like me, as I am not a "Type A" personality, not a perfectionist, and definitely not a workaholic.

There's a certain intelligence required to succeed in the way that Dr. Hendricks measures success. It's not just about being bright enough to receive a certain level of education and being able to apply it - it's about having a knack for business and social interaction. Some have it and some just don't. Having that knack for business and social interaction involves knowing what people will go for and what they won't, capitalizing on that, and being well enough connected with the right people to turn it all into some kind of money generator, popular movement, or satisfying relationship. In addition to all of that, what is often required is having the energy and financial resources to fail lots of times and yet keep getting back up to try again. Yet none of these things are really even acknowledged in The Big Leap (except just faintly in the Appendix), nor is there any suggestion of how to succeed in spite of not having that inborn knack for Western greatness. (Or is that just my hidden barrier of feeling fundamentally flawed kicking in?)

This book is quite competently written - it's a fast read, and in the early parts, can be quite a page-turner. Hendricks' language flows and does not get in the way of rapid movement through the text, which I found was often happening as I was moving through looking for a key point to come out of his line of thought. So, The Big Leap is well written in that sense, though I ultimately found it somewhat lacking in substance.

The suggestions for "Building a New Home in Your Zone of Genius" really only scratch the surface, unless you're someone who frequently comes up with million dollar ideas over breakfast, perhaps. The Ultimate Success Mantra might help some to fine tune their already beaming selves... but again, this seems to assume a certain high level of being. I didn't really find that it grabbed me enough that I'd honestly want to make it my mantra, or that I could realistically expect to actually do this meditation regularly. Chapter Six, Living in Einstein Time, kind of assumes that the reader is so busy that "there's no time" for a lot of things. Again, this is "Type A" workaholic material that I found myself unable to relate to. It seems to me that success and having a life that works is more about your level and quality of personal energy, social connectivity, clarity of purpose and understanding, and the sheer will power to hammer it all out, and again, none of those things are really addressed in this book.

So in the end, The Big Leap is interesting for what it is, and it does shed important light on ways that we can unconsciously cause our own hurts, physical and otherwise, but you'll have to see for yourself if what's presented in it are ideas you can realistically apply in your own life.
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Showing 1-10 of 42 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2010, 8:52:21 PM PST
Very insightful and valuable review from a perspective I would not have thought of. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2010, 12:05:59 PM PDT
roland jc120 says:
I'm no type A either, so I can very much relate to what you say. Intelligent, lucid review-- thanks.

Posted on May 25, 2010, 11:53:34 PM PDT
Thought this was an excellent review and it definitely helped me. But I have to admit, the writer is very self-limiting on her or his own potential and essentially says, well, I can't make this work for me because I am not (rich enough, business savvy enough, type A personality enough, etc.), which is very upper limiting.

Posted on Jun 23, 2010, 1:27:43 PM PDT
E. Ferrigan says:
Its important to have positive influences and mentors in our lives and Gay Hendricks does that. Its also important we leave room for each of us to make decisions that we can live with and appreciate the receiving person is growing and learning. Gay does this as well. He is a messenger and what we do with it is up to us. We can read or perceive anything through a filter and get the result we get. When I hear criticism without equal amounts of curiosity about why a person is thinking the way they are I don't expect the person to learn much because they are setting themselves up to remain in their current perspective. If they are satisfied in that perspective then go for it. If their is a desire to change then creating an opening for the possibility that there is truth in Gay Hendricks words without so much meaning attached to it is my encouragement. Try re-reading the book without the filter of "this may work for others because...." and see what happens.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2010, 10:44:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 20, 2010, 10:46:50 AM PDT
D. Whitney says:
Hi everyone - thank you all for your compliments on the review, and thanks to everyone for the high rating. I don't know if the commenters (is that a word?) will see my reply here, but I recently looked at the comments and wanted to speak to what Derek and E. Ferrigan are saying here.

Derek, I am a "he" by the way, and the situation with this book is that there wasn't really anything *to* try to work with. Yes, this may be upper limiting of me. It's just that I feel that I have to start somewhere, and The Big Leap just didn't give me any ideas.

To E. Ferrigan as well, the trouble here is that as I read The Big Leap, I'm seeing Gay Hendricks as another amazing person who appears to be "walking on air." I just couldn't relate to his life and how he does things, and that was my criticism: that readers should not expect this book to help them get to their Zone of Genius if they're not already quite successful. I've known other people like this. When it's time for a boost in income or new work, they "just do it" - they just schmooze their way into some great relationship that lands megabucks in their hands, because they're good at that. That is what all of this is really about. Some people have the knack for it. For the rest of us, we require instructions, or need to find some more specific skill we really excel at that will get us into a good spot. It was with the hope of finally finding some good instructions that I obtained a copy of this book. And again, I just did not find instructions here. I found a rich and hugely successful author doing his best to inspire from the top of a mountain.

Cheers -

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010, 1:24:16 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2010, 1:41:46 AM PDT
anonymous says:
What struck me is that your review reveals your own outstanding abilities as a writer. My own belief is that giving back something of quality and truth to the world is what matters rather than trying to to have one's life embody a glamorous success story. Undoubtedly I am an idealist influenced in my thinking by those geniuses who only became lauded at the end of their lives and yet created work of lasting worth. To me just your honesty counts already for a lot. Frankly I think that's all you need. I hope you keep your eyes sharp, and your sensitivity attuned and that you sit down and do a lot of incredibly REAL writing. The world today sure needs it. Don't worry about the result or think about it - just DO it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2010, 4:26:48 PM PDT
D. Whitney says:
Hi Hart,

Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I would agree that giving back something of quality and truth is what matters... unfortunately, in this society, one must also find ways to connect some of that to monetary income. I also feel that life should be abundant... without that abundance, it is not worth living. Maybe this is some kind of sense of entitlement. Call it what you will; this is something I feel very strongly about.

To that end, it has been necessary for me to do a lot of work that has paid well but not provided so much of an opportunity to give back that quality and truth. Honesty does not seem to have a great deal of draw in my society ("ours," if you too live in the U.S.), and I actually did do some pretty real writing, which resulted in an unpublished book. At this point, that project has been shelved, after a fairly good and unsuccessful attempt to attract the attention of a publisher, and after coming to realize that much of the writing had actually still been done under some false assumptions. (The subject matter was my long experience with Evangelical Christianity, and a sort of unconventional revisioning of some key doctrines that have some big problems as they are. What I found was that Evangelicals have been totally unreceptive to the ideas.) So, it's often hard to know what the truth really is, and then, in instances when you *have* found it, it really doesn't seem like people are interested in truth much these days anyway.

I do enjoy writing, and find it fairly easy most of the time when I'm writing about something that really matters to me. However, I have found that good writing is another thing that isn't valued so highly here anymore. Part of the reason is that everyone is doing it - writing, I mean - so even if you are skilled, it's not something that's very special anymore, especially in light of the hundreds of thousands of books that are being published every year. In addition, sweatshop outputs under tight deadlines just do not appeal to me, and it seems that being pressured to write about things I don't really know about or care about, just because it's my job, could be problematic. And so I write a few reviews here and there, and get involved with online forums from time to time, and that's about the extent of it so far.

Maybe I'll try another book sometime, if I can come up with an idea to write about that hasn't already been done to death by other authors. In the meantime, if you or anyone else out there has any work ideas for me, I'd be interested in hearing them.

I apologize for my somewhat dire views here, and I hope it doesn't just sound like I'm making excuses. This society really has been perplexing to deal with.

Best regards -

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2011, 6:41:47 PM PDT
D. Bauer says:
This isn't a "work idea" ... but what about trying a shorter literary form such as the essay? At the very least it could help you exercise your writing muscles from time to time and allow you to capture insights in a much shorter time frame. There might be more targeted markets you could access: periodicals, on-line publications, blogs that accept guest contributions, that would give you some feedback and a sense of having had genuine interactions with readers.

Posted on Oct 30, 2011, 7:26:38 AM PDT
A friend recommended this book so I looked it up on Amazon and pretty quickly thought, No, This isn't for me. Then I read D.Whitney's review (well written and insightful, btw) and as a 'Type A-Perfectionist-Workaholic' I actually changed my mind and decided maybe the book would hold some value for me. Curious, I read through all the comments attached to Whitney's review and the two comments he wrote clinched it for me. Without yet having read the book, I can see the limiting beliefs and fear lenses through which the reviewer both read this book and views the world; now I shall buy The Big Leap and perhaps I'll see my own as clearly. So that's how a negative review can help sell a book!

And to Whitney: Work has intrinsic value - you do not have to be paid in order to achieve good work. Where would our arts be if past genius (think: Van Gogh) had waited for a paycheck? Start a blog, man! Keep commenting, everywhere. Add your voice. Be generous with the gifts you were given and perhaps God/the universe/karma will reward you.

Posted on Feb 13, 2013, 6:20:02 PM PST
Thanks so much for your insightful comments about the book. I have to admit not much really resonated with me, mainly because I don't spend my life waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak, and also, I'm not a Type A either... Everyone's life has positive and negative things that happen, and that's the nature of being human and alive. But if there are some people out there with whom this resonates, that's great and good luck to them.

But that issue aside, I definitely agree that it is rather disingenuous to not openly acknowledge that not everyone in this life (even if they are born and raised in the US) comes from the same starting point, and that this differential can be significant even years later. The Horatio Alger myth apparently is still very alive and well in these days. I'm all for people being optimistic, open, and not telling themselves they can't do something or engaging in self-sabotage, but when the majority of his examples were very powerful people at the top of their fields, it is hard for most of us mere mortals to take many lessons from their struggles and apply them to very different lives. Unfortunately this book makes me think of something a friend always says when she hears people make complaints similar to at least some of those recounted in this book. She neatly sums the issue up by saying "Those are problems of privilege". I wish that this book had been crafted to be more relevant to people without as much money or power as his clients. There is value in his message, but for me, the presentation style did not facilitate that message making much of an impact.
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