The Big Leap: Book Overview & Key Takeaways

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Big Leap" by Gay Hendricks. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What’s Gay Hendricks’s The Big Leap about? What’s the key message to take away from the book?

In his book The Big Leap, psychologist and personal growth coach Gay Hendricks, aims to help the reader overcome some of the psychological barriers to success and fulfillment. Written in 2009, the book collates advice accumulated over Hendricks’s many years in the coaching business, and it’s geared toward the reader who has achieved some success in life yet still feels a lack of fulfillment.

Below is a brief overview of the key ideas.

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

In his book The Big Leap, Hendricks asserts that, while we all have an innate call toward our most successful and fulfilling life, even highly successful people are often plagued by an inability to achieve beyond a certain self-imposed limit. 

This limit is what we’ll call our “happiness threshold,” a maximum amount of goodness we’re comfortable feeling, established by early life experiences. When we achieve high degrees of success in our careers, relationships, and other areas of life, we’ll begin to feel discomfort as we near that threshold, and this triggers self-sabotaging behaviors.

Success Propels You Toward Your Happiness Threshold

According to Hendricks, many people who appear outwardly to be highly successful are plagued internally by a sense that there’s something missing in their life. Others may be thriving in one area of their life, such as their career, yet experience continual frustration and disappointment in another, perhaps in their relationships. If this sounds like you, you may be unconsciously limiting yourself by what Hendricks calls the “Upper Limit Problem,” an internal threshold for the maximum degree of success and happiness you’ll allow yourself to experience. This happiness threshold works to prevent you from reaching what he calls your “Zone of Genius,” which we’ll refer to as living in a state of fulfillment.

Levels of Success

First, Hendricks defines four distinct levels of success people occupy. As we accomplish more in life, we move through subsequently higher levels. These levels can be described as:


In this level of life, Hendricks explains, you accomplish little to nothing, because you waste time and energy on doing things you’re not good at, rather than on things you excel at. You’re continually frustrated and spinning your wheels, because you aren’t homing in on your skills and talents, and you stubbornly refuse to admit that there are just some things you aren’t cut out for. For example, you may be stuck in a dead-end job you hate, or unable to hold down jobs, and you feel like a failure. In fact, the problem may be that you’re just not pursuing what you’re good at. You might be achieving much more in a different career path that’s more aligned with your natural abilities. 


At this level, you appear to be doing fine; you’ve achieved some level of success and are making progress. You may be on par with your peers, but not really excelling beyond them. For example, if your friends and family think you’re “doing well” but you still feel like you’re falling short of your potential, or you find you’ve hit a wall in terms of advancement, you may be stuck at the level of adequacy. To go beyond adequacy, Hendricks advises that you may just need to re-focus and re-prioritize, thinking a bit outside the box to imagine how you could aim a little higher.

High Achievement

At this level, you’ve reached a degree of accomplishment that others admire. You’re good at what you do, and you’re solidly “successful” according to society’s standards. You can get very comfortable in this zone, because on the surface you may look and feel like you’ve reached your highest potential. But Hendricks warns us that there are two potential problems when you reach this level of achievement:

1. You still have a nagging sense that something is missing in your life. Deep down something tells you there must be more, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. This is your inner calling to true fulfillment beckoning you. 

2. This is also where you’re in danger of encountering your happiness threshold, which acts as a barrier to reaching that state of fulfillment. These two forces—your call to fulfillment and your happiness threshold—work against each other at this level. When you feel the satisfaction of this much accomplishment, you’re likely to begin to engage in self-sabotage, to ensure you don’t go beyond that. This is due to deep-seated feelings of unworthiness or other limiting beliefs we’ll discuss in the next section. 

(Shortform note: In The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris explains that humans aren’t hard-wired for happiness, and the pursuit of that often has the opposite result. We’re driven to accumulate as a survival instinct, but in the modern world, this relentless drive to acquire more material wealth keeps us in a vicious cycle because we never know when enough is enough. This is similar to how Hendricks describes the High Achievement level of success, and why such people may still feel like something is missing.)    

State of Fulfillment

According to Hendricks, this is the level we’re all meant to reach in life—it’s your true life purpose. When you transcend the limitations of your happiness threshold, you reach your highest potential, and there’s no boundary on the amount of love, wealth, and joy you can experience. In this state you’re not just achieving, but thriving. Hendricks describes this as breaking out of all the “boxes” of the previous levels, and living a life of limitless expansion.

How the Happiness Threshold Affects Your Life

Hendricks claims that overcoming the barrier of the happiness threshold is “the only problem we need to solve.” He explains that this concept applies to success in all realms of life, not just to wealth or material success (Shortform note: Despite this explicit statement, material success does come across as being the primary focus of the book. Most of the examples are of very wealthy and/or famous people).  

We all know on a deep subconscious level, Hendricks argues, that we’re meant to live in a state of fulfillment, and when we don’t heed the call toward that, we’re affected by depression, illness, and injury. However, as we experience greater success and joy, and come closer to fulfillment, this triggers fear in us. We feel undeserving and will begin to self-sabotage, to bring ourselves back down to a comfortable level of happiness. Hendricks claims that this creates a constant tension and that as we get older, we’ll learn to gradually tune out the call to fulfillment, in order to reconcile the tension. 

Self-sabotaging constitutes making decisions that we know, if perhaps unconsciously, have the capacity to reduce our happiness and success. These might include making poor financial choices, creating conflicts that ruin our relationships, and engaging in risky behavior that might result in scandal or even legal trouble. As one example, Hendricks discusses the prevalence of stories about lottery winners who squander their winnings or otherwise engage in behaviors that result in their financial and social ruin.

The False Beliefs That Hold Us Back

To learn how we can work toward our state of fulfillment, we need to understand why we have a happiness threshold limiting us in the first place. Hendricks says this threshold is set early in our lives by having false beliefs ingrained in us that cause feelings of fear, unworthiness, or guilt when we achieve success. He identifies some common false beliefs and gives examples of how we might end up internalizing those. He says everyone holds at least one of these false beliefs, and some more than one. The first step toward transcending your happiness threshold will be doing some self-examination to identify which of these you hold and where it came from. 

(Shortform note: Limitless by Jim Kwik discusses another kind of false belief that could negatively affect your success: self-limiting beliefs about learning. He argues that we impose limitations on ourselves through false beliefs about our intelligence that we likely learned when we were young.)

False Belief #1: “I am flawed at my core, so I can’t also be successful.”

According to Hendricks, this belief likely originates in some experience of rejection that you felt you were to blame for, or from being criticized often. Perhaps you came to believe you were at fault for your parents’ divorce, or you had a parent who was relentlessly hyper-critical of you. You may have come to accept these perceived failings or flaws as an innate part of your identity. 

When you believe you’re fundamentally flawed, and you start to achieve success in life, this creates a situation where you’re trying to hold conflicting beliefs. This puts you in a state of cognitive dissonance, which psychology tells us is uncomfortable to maintain, so you’ll feel compelled to resolve that discomfort. To resolve it, you may engage subconsciously in this line of reasoning:

  • I can’t be both flawed and successful.
  • Therefore one of those can’t be true.
  • But I am flawed (this belief is deeply rooted).
  • So, therefore I mustn’t be successful.
  • Hence, I must keep myself from success (self-sabotage).

False Belief #2: “My success would be a betrayal of my roots.”

This belief is formed by a mismatch between your type or degree of success and what has been expected of you. Many parents have preconceived ideas about a career path for their children. If your parents were both highly educated professionals, for example, they may have pushed you to excel in academics, in hopes that you’d follow in their footsteps. If you were drawn to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, no matter how successful you are in that field, you may feel like you’ve let your parents down. Hendricks explains that when you achieve success in a way that diverges from the expectations of others, it can feel uncomfortable, as if you’re betraying your loved ones. You may feel like you’re leaving your family behind or crushing their hopes. The guilt that results may cause you to self-sabotage to ensure that doesn’t happen.

(Shortform note: Class consciousness can also contribute to a strong sense of betraying our roots. Karl Marx described the working class identity as being defined specifically in opposition to the wealthy elite. While we’re undoubtedly familiar with envy and admiration of the wealthy by the poorer classes, there’s also a long history of hatred of the rich. Many working class people are raised with negative views of wealth and wealthy people, along with a pride in their working-class identity. This could also create a situation where, for people from such backgrounds, any degree of material wealth could feel like a betrayal of your “roots.”)

False Belief #3: “My success would hurt someone else.”

Hendricks identifies a few ways in which we could imagine that our success would have a negative impact on others. If you hold this type of false belief, you may feel guilty when you have great achievements, and your self-sabotage will be a means of protecting those you believe are being harmed by your success. One variant of this is a belief that you were a burden, likely on your parents. If you fundamentally believe you’ve been a burden in your life, you’ll believe that your own success will only further burden others, because anything you produce is an extension of you. 

Another variant of this is a belief that your success is casting a shadow on someone else. Hendricks points out that this one is common among children who were gifted, and thus consistently outperformed others, for example their siblings or classmates. Often such children are made to feel badly about it, by their parents, teachers, or resentful siblings or peers.  

If you’ve experienced this, you may have an underlying fear of resentment from others if you outperform them, so your success makes you feel guilty, and you feel like you need to “tone it down” so you’re not in the spotlight. Hendricks points out that this could mean limiting your degree of success through sabotage, or not actually being able to enjoy success if you achieve it.

False Belief #4: “Great success ends in great ruin.” 

This false belief, Hendricks suggests, may stem from stories we’ve been told about someone who was destroyed by their own success. Think about any family stories you may have heard that associate success with something negative, for example a relative who won the lottery and was ruined by it, or an ancestor who experienced a tragic fall from grace. Consider whether you may be reenacting any such story unconsciously. If this is the case, Hendricks proposes that you remind yourself that it’s not your story, and intentionally create a new story for yourself. This will involve envisioning your state of fulfillment, which we’ll discuss in the next section 

(Shortform note: Hendricks mentions family stories here, but it may not be all that common for families to have stories of specific ancestors like this. What is common and pervasive, though, are our cultural stories. The kinds of stories he describes are commonly occurring tropes in movies and television—for example, movies where having or pursuing wealth ruins someone, or those centered on a “rich villain” character.)  

Spotting Your Limiting Beliefs and Behaviors

Now that you know what kinds of false beliefs people tend to have and where those come from, you must identify your own limiting beliefs by closely observing your own behaviors. Hendricks points out that these telltale behaviors can crop up in any area of your life, including in your relationship dynamics. 

Once you’ve identified some of the behaviors that may be reinforcing your limiting beliefs, you’ll need to begin confronting those in your day-to-day life. Keep in mind that these behaviors have been conditioned over a long period of time, so it will take diligent effort to overcome them. Therefore, the first step will be to make a firm commitment to keeping an open and positive attitude toward this. 

When you’re fully committed, begin by making a list of all the behaviors you recognize in yourself, and then consciously start watching for them to crop up. When they do, think about how they might be connected to limiting yourself. It’s also important to approach this non-judgmentally. As you become aware of these beliefs and behaviors in yourself, don’t be too self-critical; try to have an attitude of amusement toward yourself, and refrain from making negative judgments  

(Shortform note: One strategy offered for conquering limiting beliefs in Limitless is to create a persona for your “inner critic.” Imagine it’s separate from you, and create an unflattering name and voice for it. Then when it speaks up with a negative thought, laugh at it and dismiss it as ridiculous). 

Because the dynamic works a bit differently, we’ll look at individual everyday behaviors separately from relationship behaviors. 

Limiting Behaviors in Your Everyday Life

Many common behaviors that we tend to think of as natural and normal can actually be red flags that we might be self-sabotaging in order to undermine our success and happiness. Take some time to reflect on whether any of these rings true for you.  

You Worry Habitually 

Hendricks says that worry can be useful or not useful. If there’s a real and present issue that you can solve, then solve it, and move on. For example, if you’re worried that you may have forgotten to pay your phone bill this month, check your records to see if it’s been paid. If not, take care of it—then that worry is gone. However, if solving your present concern is not realistic and/or the issue isn’t something you can do anything about, then worrying about it is useless. For example if you’re worried that you might not get a promotion you’ve applied for, but you’ve already done everything you can do to put that in motion, then there’s no reason to keep thinking about it.

Useless worry is just inventing negative scenarios. That negative mindset can hinder your progress by undermining your confidence or keeping you from focusing on more productive positive things.

Since worry is a habitual thought pattern, Hendricks advises that addressing this behavior must involve learning to redirect your thoughts to get out of that habitual pattern. When you catch yourself worrying, stop and ask whether it’s useful or not. If it’s not, acknowledge that and redirect your thoughts toward something useful. But ceasing the worry habit isn’t sufficient in itself. Hendricks points out that you must also determine what positive energy or success you may be trying to block by engaging in this negative thought pattern. Therefore, rather than just redirecting your thoughts, also take the time to look for what triggered it.

Hendricks points out that worry and anxiety are fear-based, and he makes a connection between the feelings of fear and excitement. He points out that when faced with the unknown, humans experience either fear (a negative reaction) or excitement (a positive reaction). Therefore, he argues, these two emotions are just different ways of reacting to fear, and therefore we can learn to transform our fear into excitement by breathing through the fear. Consciously breathing deeply during fearful moments can release the negativity, and thus change the feeling into a more pleasant sensation of excitement or wonder. 

(Shortform note: Hendricks takes this idea from the work of psychiatrist Fritz Perls. The idea is that both fear and excitement have similar physiological responses in the body, involving the release of adrenaline and a rapid heartbeat. Breath work can calm this response and make the feeling more positive.) 

You Tend to Be Critical of Others

Being hyper-critical is another way we limit ourselves because it creates unnecessary negativity in our interactions with people. Hendricks also points out that criticism of others is usually as much, or more, about you as it is about the other person. It keeps you from being able to work harmoniously with others, and puts the blame for failures or problems onto others instead of taking responsibility for those yourself. 

Start to observe any critical statements you make about others, and make note of whether those are productive or not. For example, if your co-worker isn’t meeting their obligations and it’s keeping you from accomplishing tasks, notice how you react to it: Are you addressing it in a productive way, or just hurling criticism? Are you placing all of the blame on them without examining your role in the dynamic?

Once you take notice of your tendency toward criticism, Hendricks suggests trying to refrain entirely from making any critical statements for one day—this should make you aware of how habitual the behavior is. Then, notice whether your criticisms are things you can do something about and, if so, just do what it takes to resolve it. He predicts, however, that you’ll notice that most of your criticisms are not productive, and when you realize this, you’ll become aware of how unnecessary they are and eventually stop the habit. 

You Can’t Accept Compliments

Notice how you react when people compliment or praise you. If you tend to deflect or downplay compliments, Hendricks says that’s a sure sign that you have some limiting belief about yourself that could be holding you back. Notice what your reactions are when people compliment you, as that can reveal what the specific limiting belief is. 

To address this behavior, simply pause any time someone compliments or praises you, take a moment to feel the positivity they’re giving you, and say “thank you.” You can use this positive energy to combat the negative beliefs about yourself. Hendricks reminds us that internalizing positive beliefs about ourselves is key to allowing ourselves to feel happiness, and thus helps combat the happiness threshold problem.

You Tend to Get Sick or Injured Following Positive Experiences

Our psychological state affects our body, and it can cause illness and make us accident prone. Hendricks suggests that if you begin to take notice of when you get ill or injured, you may see a pattern emerge, wherein these misfortunes occur just after very positive or pleasurable experiences

in your life. If this is the case, it may be your mind affecting your body as a means of self-sabotage, or self-punishment. For example, if you get sick on your honeymoon, this may be a psychosomatic effect of nearing your happiness threshold.

Hendricks also points out that illness and injury could be a means of punishing yourself for pursuing pleasures that won’t lead you to your state of fulfillment. These activities, while enjoyable, may actually be compromising your principles, and holding you back from true fulfillment. For example, you may indulge in overconsumption of material items, such as expensive jewelry or a flashy car, as a means to boost your ego. But this won’t result in sustainable happiness, so you may have a pattern of becoming ill or injured after you indulge in a shopping spree. In this way, you’re actually punishing yourself for not pursuing your state of fulfillment. 

Another pattern Hendricks advises looking for is whether illness or injury might be a means of trying to prevent or protect yourself from experiencing something you’re resistant to, or afraid of. You may be unconsciously attempting to avoid something that would put you out of your comfort level. For example, if you get sick the day of an interview for a new job that would move you toward greater success, but which also intimidates you, it could be your means of keeping yourself in your comfort zone. 

To address this tendency, Hendricks advises that you take notice of patterns, and begin to think of your illnesses and injuries as something you’re doing to yourself rather than something out of your control that’s happening to you. Once you start to think of them this way, you may notice you have fewer of these kinds of incidents. 

(Shortform note: It’s not clear whether there is any scientific evidence for a connection between accidents and illness, and self-sabotage. It is known that stress can cause people to be more accident prone, likely because they’re not paying attention, and there are people who engage in self-harm behaviors. Also, there is ample evidence that emotional states affect our physical health. However, none of this research necessarily indicates that people are sabotaging their success and happiness by means of injury or illness.)

Limiting Behaviors in Your Relationships

Psychological research has shown that “successful” people tend to have low relationship satisfaction. According to Hendricks, that’s because those who have already achieved success in other areas of their life are nearer their happiness threshold, so they can’t allow themselves to also experience happy relationships. Not only do we individually self-limit here, but in intimate relationships, couples will work in tandem with each other to create an intertwined happiness threshold, and to reinforce that.

(Shortform note: Studies have found a correlation between higher social class and certain kinds of relationship problems. The research suggests that the problem is linked to more rigid kinds of thinking, and a tendency for higher-status individuals to lack wise reasoning in interpersonal conflicts.)

We’re not evolutionarily built for deep, loving relationships—we’re evolved to meet basic needs and reproduce, Hendricks says. So close, intimate relationships are evolutionarily something new that we’re grappling with. This means that we naturally feel uncomfortable when we experience intensely positive emotions in relationships. So we will engage in sabotaging behaviors to bring the feelings back down to a level we’re familiar and comfortable with.

Hendricks explains that some of the common ways we tend to limit success and happiness in relationships are by picking fights, communicating poorly, and engaging in power struggles. While each of these behaviors may be instigated by one partner, they all clearly take two people to create a cycle of conflict. Once both partners are engaged in bickering, vying for control, or dysfunctional communication patterns, the cycle gets very difficult to break. Thus, Hendricks emphasizes the importance of getting your partner on board in the process of addressing these telltale behaviors. In this case, two people are working together to reinforce the happiness threshold, so both partners need to commit to working on the problem, or one will continue sabotaging the relationship. 

To prevent and fix these unhealthy relationship dynamics, Hendriks recommends a few strategies:

1. Both partners should regularly take alone time to recharge and reconnect with themselves. When we’re in a relationship, we need to maintain our sense of individuality and independence; when we don’t have this, Hendricks says that we will tend to create conflict to force that distance and avoid intimacy. So if both partners voluntarily take time away for themselves, they’ll be less likely to force that distance in unhealthy ways. Hendricks advises that any time you experience a high level of intimacy or happiness in your relationship, take a bit of time to do something “grounding” (connect with the earth in some way), in order to avoid falling into the pattern of bringing yourself and your relationship back down in an unhealthy

2. Both partners should commit to cultivating better communication skills. This involves practicing speaking openly and honestly about your feelings. Both partners need to allow all feelings to be expressed, without trying to suppress or avoid them in themselves or the other person.

3. Partners should remember to regularly show non-sexual physical affection to one another. This is just as important as sexual affection. 

4. Hendricks advises creating a support network with a few friends, who would be willing to work together with you on the happiness threshold problems. You can support one another and hold one another accountable.

Envisioning Your State of Fulfillment

Addressing our happiness threshold problem by identifying our false beliefs and self-limiting behaviors is crucial for working toward living in a state of fulfillment. But Hendricks points out that it’s equally important to have a clear vision of what a state of fulfillment looks like for you. This begins by discovering your “passion.” 

Those of us in all levels of success, even the high-achievers, often spend time feeling frustrated and unhappy with some aspects of our lives and blaming outside forces. Hendricks points out that we all have excuses for why we can’t do what we would love to be doing. But our excuses are never really the reason we don’t act; underlying those excuses are self-doubt and fear of failure. We need to shift to thinking about the inner resources we do have to reach our state of fulfillment. (Shortform note: Some common excuses people give for not pursuing their passions include: lack of time, lack of resources, lack of knowledge, being too young or old, and fear of failure. These all reflect limiting beliefs and a deficit mindset.)

Therefore, Hendricks offers some advice to help you get clear on what that state of fulfillment would really look like for you. What’s the driving force behind why you love what you love? To find your driving force, or “passion,” ask yourself these questions:

1. What do I love doing so much that I never tire of it, and that it doesn’t even feel like work to me? Ponder this deeply until you have a clear answer.

2. What aspect of my current work gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction? Here, Hendricks says that everyone has something. It can be a really small, seemingly insignificant part of your work, such as chatting with your coworkers. Once you find this, start putting a high priority on doing some of it every day. Think about how you generally prioritize tasks in your life, and whether you can re-prioritize to put these high-satisfaction activities above other lower-satisfaction activities.

3. What special gift or talent do I have? This one may take some deep examination to get to. It may be an ability within another, within another. Hendricks describes it as like a set of Russian dolls, so he says you need to keep digging until you get to the foundational passion or gift. Use this example to follow this line of questioning:

  • When in my life do I feel like I’m really shining?
  • What specifically am I doing when I feel that way?
  • What is it that I love about doing that?

Continue this line of questioning until you feel an inner spark of excitement, and you’ll know you’ve discovered your gift. For example: I feel like I’m really shining when I’m creating art. Specifically, I’m translating a vision I have in my mind into a visible creation using paint or other materials. What I love about that is being able to use my imagination to create something that adds beauty to the world. That’s my gift! Now I can think about how to apply that to my career and other areas of my life. 

Once you have explored this line of questioning, Hendricks says, you should have a clear picture of what living in a state of fulfillment would look like for you. Use this to write a new story for yourself. 

Navigating Your State of Fulfillment

When you learn how to break free of your limiting beliefs, discover your passion, and make the “big leap” into your state of fulfillment, Hendricks says you’ll need help navigating life in that state, because it’s different from the life you’re accustomed to. It’ll likely take some amount of diligent maintenance to avoid falling back into your old patterns of thought and behavior. 

Hendricks emphasizes that the first important step to living your fulfilled life is to explicitly and fully commit to doing it. (Shortform note: Hendricks doesn’t give specific instructions for a commitment strategy, but psychological research shows that having a friend act as an accountability partner may help you achieve goals.) Then, there are some practical changes you can make in your life to help you maintain your state of fulfillment.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Living in a state of fulfillment requires that you prioritize spending time on activities that enhance that state, and avoid activities that don’t. But one of the most common boundary problems people tend to struggle with is saying “no.” When you take stock of what you tend to spend time on, you may notice you invest a lot of energy into doing things you really don’t want to do, because you feel obligated to say “yes” to others. Hendricks suggests you start saying “no” to anything you can that doesn’t align with your state of fulfillment. 

Each time you’re asked to do something, don’t respond immediately. Take some time first to think about whether it aligns with life in your state of fulfillment. Of course, doing things in the service of others often feels fulfilling, so in those cases, say “yes.” However, in some cases, you may conclude that saying “yes” to something would be counterproductive to your fulfillment. For instance, if you’re asked to take on an extra project at work, but that would mean sacrificing spending time with your family, you may decide that’s not worth the sacrifice, even if it would mean extra money. In this case, spending time with your loved ones will enhance your state of fulfillment more than money will. So, you must say “no.” Hendricks calls this an “Enlightened No” because you’re explicitly saying no for a higher purpose—the purpose of living in your state of fulfillment.

(Shortform note: The internet abounds with self-care advice extolling the virtue of saying “no.” However, there may also be good reason to critique this practice, as well as other practices encouraged under the guise of self-care. We need to be careful that we’re saying “no” for the right reasons, and not just to avoid responsibility or obligations to others.) 

Redefine Your Relationship to Time

Another common defeating behavior people tend to engage in is not using their time effectively. This creates a constant source of life stress for many of us. Hendricks suggests that this really stems from a faulty way of thinking about time, and he offers a different perspective to shift your thinking in this area. When you transform your thinking about time, you remove the stress created by the idea that there’s “not enough” or “too much” time. This allows you to feel more peace and abundance in your life and to devote more time to those things that enhance your state of fulfillment.

The shift in thinking Hendricks suggests essentially involves changing your concept of time as something outside of you that constrains you, to something that comes from within you and is abundant. He explains the difference in terms of Newton’s and Einstein’s theories, where the Newtonian model is the way we typically think of time, as objective and finite, as opposed to Einstein’s concept of time as relative and subjective. 

(Shortform note: Reviewers of the book have raised questions about whether Hendricks’s descriptions here accurately represent the theories of Newton and Einstein. But if we take them as loose interpretations, we can use these concepts as a basis for thinking about how to use time more wisely. Some fairly simple shifts you can make are: Try focusing your attention fully on the present moment, spend less time thinking about doing things and more time doing them, and don’t get distracted by the “small stuff” that wastes time.)

A concept of time based on Einstein’s model would mean understanding that time is relative to our experience of it. Depending on what we’re doing, it can feel like it goes faster or slower—we’ve all had this experience. Time seems to drag when you’re waiting for medical test results, but flies by when you’re on vacation. Hendricks argues that this is due to how your attention is focused. When you fully focus your attention in the present moment, you can use the time more deliberately.

You can use this relativity to your advantage by realizing that you control your experience of time;  thus, simply understanding time from this new mindset will be a positive step toward eliminating the constant feeling of rushing from our lives. 

As a practical step, Hendricks suggests you can begin by changing how you speak about time. Notice where you complain about time, for example how often you say you “don’t have time” to do something. Usually when we say this we really mean we don’t want to do it. It’s more about our priorities. If something is important you’ll “make time” for it. According to Hendricks, this means you can always make time. So, as a first step in changing your perception of time, Hendricks urges you to eliminate any complaining about time, or reference to time constraints, from your language.

Mantra Meditation

Another practical tool Hendricks offers for maintaining a state of fulfillment is a mantra meditation. A mantra is a word or phrase used to help train the mind to be in the present and redirect it from negative thought patterns. (Shortform note: The Chopra Institute, founded by world-renowned guru Deepak Chopra, explains that a mantra can be understood as a seed you plant in your mind, to grow an intention into a realization.)

Hendricks has formulated a mantra specifically designed for combatting the false beliefs and limiting behaviors discussed in this book. It serves to open your mind to accepting all of the abundance of life in your state of fulfillment. He calls this the Universal Success Mantra, or USM.

His mantra is: “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”

Hendricks gives instructions for repeating the mantra in sequence with your breath in meditation daily. Notice any resistance your mind has to the mantra. It’s natural—just notice it and go back to the mantra. It will take practice to retrain your mind; you’re deprogramming from a lifetime of embedded false beliefs. In addition to setting aside time to focus on your mantra in meditation, occasionally just repeat it as you go about your day any time you think of it. Hendricks also suggests that you may want to write the mantra down on pieces of paper and put them where you’ll see them throughout the day, for example in your house, car, or office, in order to prompt yourself to repeat it regularly.

Recommit Regularly

As a final word of advice for ensuring that you remain in your state of fulfillment, Hendricks emphasizes continuous re-commitment. He warns that you must be diligent about watching for old patterns to emerge, or the false beliefs to creep up. Use those as a reminder to commit again to living in your state of fulfillment. Any time you start to feel negativity, dissatisfaction, or unhappiness, make a conscious re-commitment and repeat your mantra.

The Big Leap: Book Overview & Key Takeaways

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  • How to identify your own false beliefs and stop self-sabotaging

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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