[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.6] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode we discuss how you can fall into cycles of self-sabotage and constantly reset your happiness down to where you think it should be. Lessons learned from coaching over 20,000 people. How to crush upper limit problems and rake through the beliefs holding you back? The questions you need to discover and live in your zone of genius, and much more with Dr. Gay Hendricks.
The Science of Success continues to grow with now more than a million downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries, being nominated for the 2017 People’s Choice Podcast Awards and much more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all these incredible information?”
A lot of her listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge I get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to awesome podcasts, and more. Because of that, we’ve created an epic resource just for you. It’s a detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything, and you can get it completely for free by texting the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, it's a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything, and all you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter”, that’s “smarter”, to the number 44222, or you can just join our email list at successpodcast.com. As bonus we send out exclusive weekly updates to all the listeners on our email list, so be sure to join.
In a previous episode we looked at why your definition of success might be hurting you and how you can redefine it in a much healthier way. We examined the power in what some humility, talked about what it means to provide value and how to do it. We went deep into the power of listening, why it’s so important. We discussed three strategies you can use to become a better listener. We explored the concept of brilliance and how you can use it to unlock your own brilliance in 30 seconds and much more with Simon T. Bailey.
If you want to unleash your inner brilliance, listen to that episode. Don’t forget, if you want to get all the incredible information in this episode, links, transcripts, all the notes for everything we talk about and much more, be sure to check out our show notes. You can get them at successpodcast.com, just hit the show notes button at the top.
[0:03:00.5] MB: You know how much I talk about the concept of mental models and how vital it is to build a toolkit of mental models in order to be successful and achieve your goals. That's why this week I'm super excited to tell you about one of our sponsors, brilliant.org.
Brilliant is a math and science learning enrichment tool that makes mastering the fundamentals of math and science easy and fun. They’re offering a special promotion for Science of Success listeners, which you can get it at brilliant.org/scienceofsuccess.
Mastering the fundamentals of math and science is such an important component of building a toolkit of mental models, and Brilliant is a great way to get started with that.
Another sponsor for this episode is the Success Live Summit, which as we hinted at is not actually the Science of Success, but Success Magazine puts on an awesome life summit and they’ve been kind enough to sponsor this episode as well as hook us up with some sweet guest speakers which will be coming on the show in the next couple of weeks.
This summit is actually pretty awesome and I'm kind of bummed out that I'm not to get to go to have it. I have an immovable schedule conflicts, but my producer, Austin, who's here in the studio with me will be able to attend and he’s going to be there.
[0:04:04.1] AF: Yeah, we’re super excited, and if anybody listening to this right now wants to meet up, shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat, shake hands, take pictures, it’d be awesome. I think it’s really important for people that are striving to become more successful, to become more fulfilled, looking into the science of success, to be around other people with those same goals. This time around, the event is two days. It’s in September 8th and 9th in Long Beach, California. There’s ticket packages available and they’ve got some amazing speakers, Matt.
[0:04:29.5] MB: They really do. There’s people like some of my favorite authors, Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone, which is literally sitting on my desk right here. I constantly keep it in front of me because it’s probably the greatest book ever written about networking. They’ve got Peter Diamandis, incredible thinker and leader. People like Brendon Buchard, Mel Robbins, really phenomenal line up.
[0:04:47.0] AF: Yeah. It’s going to be great, and they’re speaking on a ton of things, from success, how to become a leader, find balance in your life. If you’re a CEO of a company you really got to find time to recharge, time to hit the gas. Just finding balance and mental strategies to making yourself bigger and better and your business bigger and better. Really hitting on all cylinders here. It’s going to be a great, great event.
[0:05:05.8] MB: You can learn more and get tickets at successliveevent.com. That’s successliveevent.com. Definitely check it out. If you’re in Long Beach, I would highly recommend checking it out, or if you’re looking for a really cool event, September 8th and 9th, Long Beach, California, successliveevent.com. You can find all the information you need.
[0:05:25.1] AF: Success Live: Learn, Develop, Achieve. Go to successliveevent.com today to your ticket.
[0:05:29.9] MB: Now, for the episode.
[0:05:30.1] MB: Today, we have another awesome guest on the show, Dr. Gay Hendricks. Gay is the president of the Hendricks Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Stanford and he taught at the University of Colorado for 21 years, has conducted seminars across the globe. He's also a multi-best-selling author having written more than 40 books and his work has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Oprah and much more.
Gay, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:05:57.9] GH: Thanks, Mat. Really good to be with you.
[0:05:59.8] MB: We’re so excited to have you on here today. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and all of the work that you've done, tell us a little about your story and, specifically, I love to hear about kind of one of the inflection points that changed your life early on.
[0:06:16.1] GH: Yes. I was going one way in my life until I had a big encounter with destiny when I was 24 years old. What happened before that is I was born, I had a lot of medical problems growing up. I was very obese. There was something wrong with my glandular system and I was taken around lots of different experts, but I never could get the problem handled until when I was 24 years old. I had what you might call not an out-of-the-body experience, but it was definitely an out of Hendricks experience.
I was, at the time, in really toxic relationship and I didn’t like my job and I was 120 pounds overweight. I weigh about 180 pounds now. At that time, I weight a little over 300 pounds and I was smoking two or three packs of cigarettes a day. Things were just not going well in my life.
One particular day I slipped on the ice. I was walking down a road in New England and I slipped on the ice and I kind of slammed down. I didn’t knock myself out, but as I say, I knocked myself out of my usual way of thinking and in that moment I laid there and I realized I could've died here because where I landed was about 6 inches from this real jagged rock on the side of the road and I was realizing I could've easily taken myself out really before I ever had a chance to have my own life.
In that moment, I had a vision of what was possible that there was an element inside us, a pure consciousness that didn't have anything to do with our programming and that at any time we could begin to create an entirely different life by making entirely different choices.
That was this moment of real aliveness this for me. Afterwards, I really clung to that moment and I started eating only foods that fed that new consciousness. I quit eating all the old foods that I ate and I lost more than 100 pounds within a year. Got rid of my tobacco addiction and got out of that relationship. I basically changed my whole life. It was a real pivot point for me. I’ve gone on to do lots of different things since then, but to look back over my whole life, that was a moment that really changed everything.
At the time I didn't really know anything about relationships, how they worked or anything. I kind of just stumbled into them, but I started really paying attention to the dynamics of my relationships until finally I had obviously learned enough about relationships by 1980 that I met the love of my life, Kathlyn Hendricks, also known as Katie, and she and I have been together for the past 38 years. As a matter of fact, right now she's on a seminar tour of Europe teaching about the very same things I'm talking to you about right now. We’ve had this great discrete working relationship as well as love relationship for the past 38 years.
All of the things that are in the Big Leap particularly, which is my most popular book especially in the coaching industry and among people who are interested in success, I really discovered those two main principles that are in the Big Leap which I'll talk more about shortly. But I really began to discover the elements of those in my close relationship with Katie.
The two big ideas in the Big Leap are one that we have an upper limit problem of how much love and abundance and success we allow ourselves to have, and I was able to discover the underlying underpinnings of what causes the upper limit problem. The second thing that the Big Leap is about, is about how to occupy your zone of genius, and that part of yourself which is completely full of good ideas, it never has a shortage of good ideas, it’s completely in harmony with who you are as a person, that I think each of us has this largely undiscovered zone of genius inside us where that if we work it right we can uncover that zone of genius and begin to express it in the world.
Katie and I for the past 38 years had been really committed to spreading those ideas throughout the world and our other books such as Conscious Loving, that was actually what the first got us on Oprah’s show and other talk shows like that.
Let me pause and catch my breath and let you ask me any questions you want to ask.
[0:11:03.3] MB: I definitely want to dig into both the concept of upper limit problems and how we can get into our zone of genius. Before we do that, one of the things that you talked about in the book that I think is vitally important to understand is that — And even on the show broadly, is that when we talk about success, a lot of people are sort of preprogrammed to think that that necessarily means financial success or monetary success. I think there’s that you talked, there's a much bigger and broader picture to that. There's more facets to success. Can you can you elaborate on that?
[0:11:37.4] GH: Yes. I’ve had the opportunity, for many years I did a lot of business coaching with the executives after my book, The Corporate Mystique, came out about 20 years or so ago. I did a lot of work with high-powered people in executive suites around the country and one thing I found is that unless you can have what I call success of the heart along with success of the wallet, it puts you out of balance and almost always causes misery that keeps you from enjoying your success.
I was able to work with over the years one powerful executive after the other who had gone overboard in the direction of success in the financial realm but at the sacrifice of closing their heart to their own deeper needs and also not allowing as much love into their lives as they possibly could.
For me, my definition of success has to do both with the expansion of our abundance, but also the expansion of the love and the creativity that we have flowing in our lives. When I would work with executives that were experiencing stress or troubled lives in various ways, it was almost never a shortage of business skills in the charts and graphs arena. What it was was a shortage of heart-centered communication skills.
I’ll give you an example of that. I once worked with one of the top executives at a big well-known computer firm that everybody knows the name of and his problem wasn't that he didn't have enough business skills. He was one of the most awesome business people that I've ever seen, but his problem had to do with oftentimes he would blow his stack in communication and he would get angry at someone and then they would be scared of him. For him, his anger it would blow over in five minutes and he never thought about it again. For other people, he hadn’t considered the fallout from his anger.
We have a moment in conversation with him where I was able to point out that his anger explosions were basically the underlying feeling was one of hurt or sadness or disappointment and he didn't know how to express that, so he would blow his stack instead. I showed him some simple ways to express hurt and anger and disappointment in appropriate businesslike way and it really changed the man's life. It really changed him from being basically what everybody described as a hot head to being a person who was able to communicate in a straightforward level about the emotions that were underneath his anger.
If you think about it, that's an essential thing for any relationship whether it's a business relationship or a relationship at home, because if you're able to bring forth what's within you, what's within you will actually save you, will actually pave the way to your greater success, but if you don't bring forth what is within you, if you keep your feelings concealed inside and if you keep your genius concealed inside, then nothing works right in life.
I compare it to a car. Let’s say you bought a new car and you drive out of the showroom and this actually happened to a friend of mine. Drove her new car out of the showroom, and because it was a little bit wider than her old car, the first corner she took she dinged the back wheel of the car. She hit the curve and dinged the back wheel and knocked the wheel out of alignment. Here she is with a brand-new car driving down the street and it’s got a shimmy in it because the back wheel is out of alignment. It only takes a tiny little bit of misalignment in ourselves to cause that off-center rattling sensation inside. What we do like in the book, The Big Leap, what I lay out is all the places that take us out of alignment and how to fix those so that you can have a nice smooth easy ride into your zone of genius.
[0:16:20.3] MB: Let’s dig into that now. Let's start with upper limit problems. What does that mean and how do people experience upper limit problems?
[0:16:29.9] GH: Yes, the upper limit problem. I began to notice that first in myself long before I wrote the book The Big Leap. People ask me how long sometimes it took me to write The Big Leap, and I said, “Well, it took me actually 30 years,” because from the moment I first started noticing the upper limit problem and the zone of genius, it took me a long time of working with people and myself on that before I finally in the early days of this century sat down and wrote the book.
What I noticed was I would tend to sabotage myself when things were going well. At the time I had my girlfriend, I was a graduate students at Stanford at the time working in the counseling psychology department and I was getting my Ph.D. This goes back to the early 1970s. I would notice with my girlfriend at the time that we would get along well for a few days and then one of us would start an argument and then the other person would get into the argument and then sometimes it would take us a couple of weeks to get out of that cycle and back into a state of feeling harmony together. I barely begin to notice that we would often sabotage ourselves when things were going really good.
On another occasion, at the time my daughter had just started for the first time a three-day sleep away camp. She was only five or six years old at the time and she was going to sleep overnight for the first time. I was a single parent at the time and so I never had a night where she spent a night out of my house. I was very nervous about it.
I took her over to the camp and later on in the day I started getting images in my mind of her feeling alone and homesick and sitting by herself or something in a dining hall. I called the director of the camp who is this really lovely lady and I told her my concerns and I said, “Is Amanda okay?” The camp director, she said, “Yes. I can see her right now. She's out in the field here playing soccer with a bunch of the girls. That's what they are doing this hour.” The images in my mind were completely unreal. I had manufactured them myself out of my own fears about her and her well-being.
What I realized was I was feeling really good right up until the moment I started manufacturing those images of her feeling lonely at camp, which turned out to be completely bogus. They had nothing to do with what she was actually feeling. I started wondering, “Hmm, I wonder if we have this human tendency to sabotage ourselves when things are feeling good or when things are going well.” I began to pay attention to that and I begin to work with it in my clients and that's how the original discoveries were made about the upper limit problem.
Now, where I made my biggest breakthroughs was where I started seeing that the upper limit problem was based on certain fears that human beings carry around inside ourselves, and so I began to look at what those fears were. One of the biggest ones interestingly enough in helping people, in helping guide people toward success as I've done over the years, is to realize that a lot of us have a fear of outshining other people.
What you can sometimes see in the psychological literature is the fear of outdoing someone, and I call it the fear of outshining, because it does have to do with our choice whether to really let ourselves shine or to keep ourselves a little bit hidden and concealed.
When I looked into it and started reading the scientific literature that had to do with early childhood, I often found that successful people were often still concealing an element of their genius inside and still upper limiting themselves by that fear of outshining. That wasn't the only fear though. I noticed that in some of my clients that they also had a fear of — That there was something fundamentally wrong with themselves. We call it fundamentally flawed. That a lot of people think they've done something wrong in life that they have to apologize for, or that they feel some kind of shame about something that happened a long time ago.
That a lot of people carry around this feeling that there's something fundamentally wrong with them and they never address that fully so that they can allow themselves to fully shine. As I started working with the upper limit problem, Matt, I realized that it’s really rooted in fear and that unless we can come to terms with our fundamental fears in life we don't have really a good hope of actualizing our full potential.
I always say to my students — I’ve trained trade about a thousand of so coaches over the years to do our work through the Hendricks Institute. Not only that, but I trained about 1,200 counselors and therapists when I was teaching at the University of Colorado for 21 years in the counseling psychology program. I always say that in order to be a success as a coach you really need to open the door to exploring lovingly your own fears and limitations, because you can only take your clients as far as you've gone yourself. To really go to the full element of success, I’ve really needed to get underneath a lot of my old fears about myself.
I have one other story. Do I have time to tell another story about financial success?
[0:22:42.3] MB: Absolutely. Yeah, we love stories.
[0:22:44.7] GH: Okay. Good. Let me take you back to the early days of my relationship with Katie, which was in the early 1980s. I met her in 1980. We've been together for a year or two and we weren't doing well financially. I was broke when I met her because I've just taken six month sabbatical to travel around and learn new things in different settings. I'd taken half a year off from my university position. I was pretty much flat broke. In fact, I was underneath flat broke. I owed American Express $800 and they had just repossessed my card. I was really in the hole.
Katie had $300 in savings and an old Mustang. That was for her dowry when we got together. Anyway, we didn’t have a lot of good financial prospects, but we had started developing an idea that, “Wow! If we could somehow get out from under our old programming that maybe we might be able to create something brand-new.”
One night, it was winter in Colorado, and I couldn't go outside and exercise, so I was pedaling furiously on my exercise bike and suddenly I had a realization that through my mind was running a series of thoughts that said, “I wonder if we've got enough money to make it through to the end of the month?” That's what I was obsessing on. Do we have enough money? I was kind of adding up things in my mind, but I was pedaling along on my exercise bike and suddenly I realized that's the exact same conversation I heard around me all the time growing up, was people saying, “Oh my God! Are we going to have enough to make it through to the end of the month?”
It occurred to me as I was on my exercise bike, “Did I just take that on as my overall programming for life, how life had to be, that I always had to worry about making it through to the end of the month?” I jumped off my exercise bike and I ran and I talked to Katie and I shared this realization with her and I said, “What if we — Instead of running off of our old programming, what if we sat down and figured out exactly what we want to create and where we want to go and what we want to have in our lives and that would take us out of our old programming?” It was kind of similar to what I've done to lose all the weight, but I'd never thought of doing it really in my financial or abundance or success area.
We went out to lunch and had a salad at this place, and ironically the name of the restaurant we went to, Matt, was called Poor Richards in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That restaurant might even still be there for all I know, but I thought it was ironic that we did our success planning in a restaurant called Poor Richard.
We sat down and we had a salad and plotted out how we wanted our future to be. Listen to what we came up with. We said we want enough so that we never have to worry about money. Then we realize, “Wait a minute. Why did we use the word enough?” because it had that idea of having just enough so that we didn't have to worry. We changed that word to we always have plenty of money so that we never have to think about money when we consider buying something. That was the basic idea that we started out with, that we always have plenty of money to do whatever we want to do so.
We started writing down that idea and actually posting in different places. Then we came up with a practical thing, and this will tell you exactly how long ago this was. We came up with this outrageously expanded idea. We said, “What if we had a thousand dollars saved up in a savings account and we never touched that? We always had at least that $1,000 and we just agreed never to touch that for basic needs?” This was this outrageous idea. We said, “Wow! Is that even possible?”
Interestingly enough it only took us — Gosh! A matter of months to create that once we got our attention on it and then we set this really outrageous goal, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had $10,000 dollars that we just had in an account and we never touched it.”
Then it took us, I think, a couple of years to manifest that, but then we set it one notch higher, “Let’s create $100,000 that we never touched.” Anyway, we started our whole investment portfolio based on those kinds of ideas, and so by the time we had been at this for a couple of years we had created a significant amount of wealth simply by keeping focused on those core ideas. We really never — We founded the Hendricks Institute in 1989 as I was kind of winding down my university career. After we were on Oprah a couple of times and that kind of thing, I felt guilty about doing all the traveling we were doing and I felt guilty about that I wasn't doing my university a full hundred percent job. I wound down my career there and we set up the Hendricks Institute. We’ve never really had a bad year. We’ve gone through every recession and everything like that in a steady upward track.
I really feel solidly committed to teaching these principles because I know for a fact that they work at home here for me and my family and people that I've worked with. so that gives me a sense of real solidarity about that when I stand up in front of a group and talk about these things, that I can say definitely that I've used them myself to create the kind of magic I wanted in my own life.
[0:28:47.4] MB: You touched on guilt a second ago, which makes me think about some of the other features that can often underpin an upper limit problem, specifically the idea of either abandoning people or sort of moving beyond what peoples expectation of you are. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[0:29:07.5] GH: Yes. One of the big fears that successful people have, even people who are already successful but are not yet at their full measure of success. One of the big fears is that if I go to my full measure of success, if I go to my full level of success, that will mean I will have to leave behind or be disloyal to people that I love and care about. They’ll think bad thoughts about me because I've gone to another level of success.
Many of us grew up in a family where success wasn't something that happened very often. I think I told a story in The Big Leap about when I wrote my first book and published it in 1975, which was a small book about education. I'd written it because I thought that like when my daughter was in the first grade and the 2nd grade, I thought they wasted a lot of their time just trying to get kids organize, and so I created this whole new curriculum of relaxation exercises and things that would help kids kind of get centered and focused and would help them get centered before tests and that kind of thing. I was able to create this curriculum. Prentice Hall ended up publishing it as a book.
I remember, nobody in my family ever published a book before and I remember when I took the book and showed it to my brother and my mother they both just kind of looked at it and resumed their conversation. Neither one of them either said congratulations or wow or that's cool or anything like. I remember being kind of flabbergasted by that. Later on I realized that nobody had ever done anything like that and so they didn’t have a way to think about it and so it probably touched on buttons for them that I was getting too big for my britches or something like that and they needed to cut me back down the size. My family was kind of like that. It is that people would always — If you were going around feeling happy, somebody would say, “Okay. Don't worry. Something bad is about to happen,” and I think that's where the upper limit problem gets its origin in that kind of early programing.
[0:31:25.1] MB: One of the biggest things that I’m a huge fan of on the show are mental models. You’ve heard me talk a lot about mental models and how critically important it is if you want to be successful to build a toolkit of mental models that can help you better understand reality.
One of the topics and many of the topics actually that are critical to developing an amazing and rich toolkit of mental models is a deep understanding of mathematics, science, physics, chemistry, etc. The hard sciences are some of the backbones of the most useful and effective mental model toolkits, and that's why I'm super excited to announce that our sponsor for this episode is brilliant.org.
Brilliant.org is a math and science enrichment learning website where you can learn concepts by actually solving fascinating and challenging problems. I'm really, really excited about this, because I'm a huge fan of STEM learning; science, technology, engineering and math, and I think that it’s something that America in general needs to do a better job of and it's something that I really want you, the listeners, to be improving and getting these skills and getting better at things like science and math.
Too many people in our society have lost the ability to quantitatively understand reality, and the mental models from a hard sciences are some of the most powerful in describing what happens in the real world. I personally am super psyched about Brilliant. The courses on there are amazing, and I'm going to through and take a bunch of them to re-up my understanding of things like probability, games of chance, problem-solving and they even have some really cool stuff, things like machine learning.
Right now brilliant.org is offering our listeners an additional 20% off of their premium plan. This discount is only for Science of Success listeners and you can unlock it by going to brilliant.org/scienceofsuccess. That’s brilliant.org/scienceofsuccess. You can sign up using our custom link and then you’ll get the 20% premium membership which comes with all of their courses and you can use this to learn about probability. You can increase your mathematics abilities. You can learn more about the hard sciences, like physics and chemistry. If you want to build a toolkit of powerful mental models, I cannot recommend enough using something like brilliant.org to improve your quantitative understanding of the world and how it works. Again, you can go to brilliant.org/scienceofsuccess to get this 20% discount.
That’s something that that's one of the reasons I love Big Leap and that particular fear really resonated with me and I feel like I'm naturally very analytical person, very — I don’t want to say pessimistic, but my mind naturally thinks about, “Okay. What can go wrong? how can things go wrong?” That fear of, “Oh! Things are going well. Something bad has to happen now or something bad is looming around the corner,” is really been something that I've dealt within my own life and had cropped up again and again. How do we battle that fear or how do we break down the underpinnings of it?
[0:34:18.7] GH: Yes. That’s really a good one for me to talk about, Matt, because I have exactly that same issue and I’ve turned it into something that I think is very useful. What happens is when I get in a situation, like my daughter, for example, is in the midst of — Now, this is not the six-year-old version of my daughter. This is now forty years later, but she’s in the process of buying a house boat up in the Bay Area to fix it up plans to live on it for several days of the week, which is what’s allowed in her particular marina.
Immediately, as soon as she said it, I started thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong. Now, that's a useful thing in a way if you don't turn it into an obsessive thing. I just wrote those things down and asked her if we could talk about those and has she considered those. That's a useful use of that particular way of thinking, but what's not useful is if we don't do anything about it.
I think a lot of the things that trouble us wouldn't be troubling to us if we just took some action about it. For example, if you go around all day obsessing about some friend that said something to you that you didn't like, that's a 10 second problem. It takes 10 seconds to pick up the phone and call your friend and say, “Hey, I’d like to talk over something with you.”
See, most of the things that I discovered were problems in relationships. Some of them are 10-second problems but none of them are bigger than 10-minute problems, because the 10-minute problem is the problem where you can get two people together and say, “Hey, I was angry about this. I'm scared about this. I'm sad about this. I was hurt by this.” When two people can talk at that kind of raw level of honesty, I've never seen a problem yet that couldn’t be cleared up in 10 minutes of communication like that.
Sometimes — Gosh! I’ve had couples in here. I'm remembering one that’s coming to mind right now. Very successful couple but they fought constantly. Didn’t enjoy their wealth because they were always fighting, and when I really worked with them, when Katie and I worked with them for an hour, we realized in that first hour that they've been having essentially the same argument for the whole 30 years that they've been together. It always went the same way. One of them would conceal some feeling, like I'm angry at you or I was hurt by something you said or I'm scared about something we’re doing.
One of them would conceal that, usually anger, and then they would start criticizing the other person. Then the other person would start criticizing them back and they would get into a cycle of blame and criticism. That's why Katie and I and both our original book, Conscious Loving and our more recent book for midlife couples called Conscious Loving Ever After, we have a whole chapter on how to end blame and criticism in close relationships. We show you, we pick apart blame and criticism and show you the quick fix for it.
The quick fix is to get underneath the blame and own whatever it is that you're afraid of and talk about it on that level rather than continuing to criticize and blame the other person. When two people can talk about their fears openly and honestly, they stop blaming and criticizing each other. That's important because when people leave relationships and they ask them, “Why did you leave this relationship?” One of the things they almost always say is, “I got sick and tired of all the blame and criticism. I figured if I was going to get blamed and criticized I might as well go ahead and move out and letter him or her blame and criticize me 24 hours a day.”
The same thing works in business. When I was doing business consulting I ended up spending a lot of my time helping people fix broken relationships that it happened as a result of some kind communication glitch. Again, Matt, I haven’t found one yet that couldn't be completely healed up and cleared up and set on the right track in 10 minutes of clear communication. It’s trying to get those 10 minutes put together though that sometimes takes hours or years.
[0:38:48.8] MB: On the concept of criticism, another topic that you dig into a little bit in Big Leap that really resonated with me was also the underpinning of that and the idea of self-criticism. My natural state again is kind of being very hard on myself, very critical, and you talked about how to deal with that. Can you elaborate on that?
[0:39:08.5] GH: Yes. Again, that’s another one that I’ve worked on a lot personally in addition to — I’ve worked with about I think a little over 20,000 individuals now. Frankly, I haven't found very many of those that didn't have that self-critical function. We’ll do a couple of things. First of all realize that self-criticism and criticizing other people both come out of the same toothpaste tube, and the toothpaste tube it comes out of is something that you're afraid of in yourself or something you're afraid to communicate to someone else. So I needed to get underneath that whole issue and find out what is it that I'm basically afraid of?
In my own case, I don't know if this is true for you or others that you’ve worked with, but in my own case I grew up with a lot of kind of shame-based parenting. In other words you should be ashamed of yourself for that or whatever possessed, what family are you from? Anyway, the idea of shaming people was very important at least in this section of the world I grew up in and many families have that function built into it. We need to look underneath that.
Like my old friend and colleague, John Bradshaw, says in his famous book Healing The Shame That Binds You, we need to look and find out what the original shaming was of, because it usually didn't start with us. You look at what was my family ashamed of and what did people shame each other for?
If you look into some of those original kinds of programming things, you will see where many of us got that sense of feeling bad about ourselves. If you look into even early religious scriptures, whether it's in the Hindu religion or Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or wherever you look, the first line of Buddha's Four Noble Truths says life is suffering.
Well, I always had trouble with that because that's one element of life, but why are we suffering? Well, we’re suffering because we're not honest in our relationships. We’re not honest with ourselves. The moment we start being honest with ourselves and honest in our relationships, life stops being purely about suffering. It begins to be about the possibilities of success, the possibilities of having more love in our lives.
What we need to do when we notice these limitations in ourselves is begin an openhearted, open-minded inquiry down deep into ourselves into our own hearts and minds and find out what it is that we really want and what it is we’re really here to do and what it is we're really here to contribute.
In the Big Leap I print out what I call sometimes my universal success mantra or my ultimate success mantra, which is the idea that I expand in love and abundance and creativity and success every day myself as I inspire other people to expand in love and abundance and success and creativity.
The idea is that I want to have my life be about a constant expansion of the things that are dearest to me and I think are dearest to all of human beings, which is increasing the amount of love in our lives, increasing the amount of abundance in our lives, increasing the amount of success and increasing the amount of creativity, because without that spark of creativity in our lives, life doesn't have the juiciness that I like my life to have.
Also, Matt, I think it's important especially for many of us that are in the line of work that you and I are in and many of the people who are listening are in which is the business of helping people an themselves be more effective in their work and being more effective as leaders and being more effective in creating abundance for their families. We need to realize that it's not just a process of opening up more to yourself. It’s inspiring other people by your actions, because I found that life is really only at its best when I'm not only expanding my own love, abundance and creativity, but also inspiring other people to open up more to theirs every day. I feel very blessed because 30 or 40 years ago I created a job that I would never want to retire from. As you can probably hear, I’m just as excited about it now at age 72 as I was age at 32 when I began to first catch on to some of these ideas. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be able to talk about them in a way that helps people learn more about how to make more of their lives a daily miracle for themselves.
[0:44:24.9] MB: I want to go back a little bit and explore one of the concept you talked about at the beginning of the Big Leap, which is the idea of sort of a happiness thermostat and that we have a setting that's been programmed into us one way or another about how happy we think we’re allowed to be and how we naturally sort of push ourselves or subconsciously reset ourselves back to that level.
[0:44:48.3] GH: Yes. Think of the upper limit problem as kind of like the governor on a car. Let's say you had a governor installed on your car that wouldn’t let you go beyond 40 miles an hour and that every time you came up to 40 miles an hour it would slow you back down again. That's exactly how the upper limit problem works.
I tell the story in the Big Leap about a man who was in the real estate business and he’d never made more than $200,000 a year and he said that every time he had gotten up to $200,000 a year he found some way to sabotage himself. We talked about that and so I asked one of the questions that all good coaches and therapists ask is; how is this problem familiar? Have you ever known anybody else that had a similar problem?
It had never dawned on him, but he said, “Oh! My dad's in real estate and he's never made more than $200,000 a year,” and so it became obvious that it was a fear of outshining. That if he made more than $200,000 a year that it would somehow mean that he was going beyond his dad and his dad would feel bad about that.
When we work together I was able to help him reframe it by saying, “Maybe instead of that, it'll inspire your dad. That he’ll feel proud of you or maybe it will inspire him to make $300,000, but it doesn't really have anything to do with you. Your job is to shine in your life the way you want to shine not in reference to other people.”
It was interesting, I think I told the end of the story in the Big Leap where I didn't see him again for a while and then one day I happened to bump into him or see him across the crowd at a July 4th parade and he kind of gave me a high five and he shouted across, “It worked!” Meaning that he broke through the $200,000 mark.
I love stories like that, because what it tells us is that — And what I deeply believe is that human beings really have no idea about what our full potential can be once we start overcoming our upper limit problem. The way I talk about it in the Big Leap, I said it’s like we’re born with the Learjet, but we use the Learjet to plow potato fields with. We taxied back and forth across the potato field and use it for that purpose rather than soaring. What I want us to do is get ourselves studying the upper limit problem in yourself so you can begin to notice it. Unwinding those fears it’s based on and letting your genius flow 24/7.
[0:47:32.4] MB: There's there so many topics I want to get into and I know we don’t have a ton of more time, but tell me a little bit — We haven't dug into yet, what is the zone of genius and what are the other zones of competence and excellence, etc., and how can they prevent us from getting to our zone of genius?
[0:47:48.5] GH: Yes. If you look about what you do, look at what you do every day on a daily basis, you'll notice that it falls into one of four zones. One is you’re doing things you're not good at doing, but you persistent in doing them anyway. I call that the zone of incompetence. The zone of competence is when you're doing things that your good at but somebody else could do just as well.
The zone of excellence is where you're doing things that your excellent at, you’re better at them than other people, but it doesn't represent who you are at your most expanded. I call that the zone of genius. When you're functioning in your zone genius, you're doing what you love to do and you're doing it in such a way that it creates the maximum amount of abundance and satisfaction for you.
The zone of genius is when you're in the groove of what you love to do and you're in the groove of doing those things that create satisfaction and abundance for you and your family and your business. That's really the zone of genius. Some good ways to find out that zone of genius, the first big question is to start asking yourself, “What do I most love to do and how can I set up my life so I do more of that every day?”
I start people with 10 minutes a day. I have them identify their zone of genius, like when I’m coaching executives here in my office or when I'm out teaching seminars or on television. I ask people to start first with 10 minutes a day. That's all you need to start with. Find a way to put 10 minutes on the calendar today of sitting in a room by yourself usually doing something that's related to your zone of genius. Maybe you don't know what your zone of genius is, but if you go in a room for 10 minutes and just write the question a dozen times, “What is my zone of genius?” “What do I most love to do?” I lay out those questions in the Big Leap. If you just take those question in a room by yourself and write them down or say them out loud or record them into your phone, but just the active inquiry into what your zone of genius is gets the process started.
[0:50:11.7] MB: That's something that I thought personally it seems really simple and easy to figure out, “Okay, what do I love doing? What am I good at doing or what am I great at doing?” But I feel like there’s some — I think a lot listeners will hear that and say, “ That sounds great and all, but it's got to be more complicated than that.” How do I tie my zone of genius into making money or does it have to be within just my job or can it be something completely different? All of these sort of various different questions. I’m curious, how do you sort of answer somebody who is concerned for something like that?
[0:50:47.2] GH: Yes. Well, I’ve worked with that extensively, because believe it or not I work with CEOs of big companies that everybody had heard of and when I opened up the subject with them even if they have blocks to their zone of genius. I can remember one conversation it's coming to mind right now where all I was trying to do was get this executives to carve out 10 minutes a day to go in a room by himself and just sit and think. Because here's what he told me, he said very wistfully one day, “You know, in the beginning I could just sit and think and figure things out. Now, I never have chance to do that. I'm always responding to other things.”
What I do is I get very practical. I help the person get out their calendar and I say, “Okay. Today, from 1:15 to 1:25 I want you to close out the world and just go in a room and sit and think.” You wouldn't believe how much resistance. He said, “Oh! No. I can’t. I just don’t have time to do that kind of stuff anymore,” but we did it. We blocked out 10 minutes, and I sat there with him and all we did was breathe together. It changed that guy’s work life, because he was able to see that he would be able on a daily basis to commit at least 10 minutes to his zone of genius. Well, pretty soon he got to doing more and more of that. It was no longer satisfying to do it just 10 minutes. You have to start somewhere.
There's a great quote from the philosopher Blaise Pascal several hundred years ago. He said, “All of human beings problems come from an inability to sit in a room by ourselves for 10 minutes doing nothing.” I started with a 10-minute rule that I ask people to go in a room and just do nothing but think about their genius for 10 minutes. It's harder than you think, but you can't really argue with it until after you've done it. My suggestion is if anybody argues with it, just go-ahead and sit down and do it. All you’ve got is 10 minutes to lose and you’ll be blown away by what happens. I'm thinking also too of — There have been a number of studies, like there's a psychologist named James Pennebaker who did a famous study where all he did was ask a group of college sophomores to sit down for 15 minutes now and then four times a week and just write down what was going on in their life and the various stresses they were having and what issues and stuff like that, to just journal about those things for 15 minutes four times a week. Then he followed up those people and he found that over the next year they had significantly fewer visits to the doctor, to the health center, that kind of thing.
Just think. In an hour a week, you can change your health of doing nothing except drilling. Imagine what you could do if you committed your first 10 minutes a day, an hour a week in other words to focusing on your zone of genius. Next week you might want to do an hour and a half the week after that. That's how I started. When I first started these I realized that I was spending 90% of my time not in my zone of genius, not doing what I love to do. I just started increasing and I set the goal first of having 50% of my time in my zone of genius. That took me a few years to accomplish, but that was 20 years ago. I worked up from there.
Now, basically, I spend all my time in my zone of genius and some of my time getting around from place to place and sleeping and eating and that kind of thing, but the rest of my life is all structured around my zone genius.
[0:54:42.4] MB: What about someone who maybe has multiple unique abilities or zones of genius. Is it possible to have — Does the zone of genius very tight and confined or can it be lots of different things that sort of flow together?
[0:54:57.4] GH: I think it’s very likely to be lots of things that float together. Our great American poet, Walt Whitman said, “I am large and contain multitudes,” and so if we think of ourselves that way, we have a multitude within us, I think that if you really boil it down though you'll find that there is something really essential at the heart of your zone of genius.
I was working with a group of advanced students who were here last week that my wife and I were working with that come to work with us a few times a year, here at our place in Southern California. I was working with them on this concept and one of the things that all of them had discovered as they began to work more in their zone of genius is that it's a positive addiction. You want to do more. Once you start locking in on your zone genius it has a natural positive ability to want you to do it more and more, and that's a good thing because what we want to do is get out from under our negative addiction, such as to worry and bad habits and drinking too much and eating too much and smoking too much and watching too much TV, all the things that human beings to do to distract themselves from their life purpose. What we need to do is get ourselves focused on actualizing our life purpose and develop positive addictions that feed that kind of lifestyle.
For example, for me, I started working out five or six years ago doing resistance training three days a week. If you'd ask me 10 years ago if I’d ever spent time in a gym with a trainer, I would laugh in your face because I hated stuff like that. I’m a golfer and a bicyclist. The idea of going into a gym and pumping iron for an hour seem like a really retrograde.
Five or six years ago I discovered how much that feeds my genius. The more I increase the liveliness in my muscles and I’ve really restructured my body for being a kind of pear-shaped fat intellectual look 40 years ago to, now — I have essentially the same physique. I weigh about the same and look about the same as Tiger Woods, one of my golf heroes. That was my goal was to look like Tiger Woods by the time I was 70 years old. By doing a lot of working out I’ve kind of adopted the Tiger stereotype physique rather than the intellectual pear-shaped physique.
[0:57:33.8] MB: For somebody who's was listening to this interview that wants to start concretely implementing some of these ideas in their lives, what's one kind of piece of homework that you would give them as a starting point?
[0:57:45.0] GH: Get hold of the arm universal or ultimate success mantra that’s in the Big Leap and go in a room by yourself for 10 minutes and do nothing, but say that mantra, that affirmation over and over again in your mind. Just get comfortable with this idea of using your life to expand every day in your love, your abundance, your creativity, your success at the same time as you inspire others by your actions to do the same. Just start with that fundamental idea and get comfortable with having your life be about that. That’s probably the simplest thing you can do to get started.
[0:58:29.9] MB: For listeners who want to find out more about you, who want to find your books and resources online, where can they do that?
[0:58:36.9] GH: Probably the easiest places to go to hendricks.com. That’s Hendricks.com, and we also have the foundation for conscious living, that’s our nonprofit foundation. That’s at foundationforconsciousliving.com. But probablyhendricks.com is the jumping off place for all that kind of thing because there you can see excerpts from interviews with us and get different techniques and things like that that are the main areas of interest that we’re in.
[0:59:05.4] MB: Gay, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all these incredible wisdom. Big Leap is a book that really resonated with me and one that that spoke to a lot of the struggles and challenges that I faced in my life. Thank you so much for being a guest.
[0:59:20.6] GH: My pleasure, Matt. Thanks a lot for the good conversation.
[0:59:25.3] MB: Thank you so much for listening to The Science of Success. Listeners like you are why we do this podcast. Your support is what drives us and keeps us creating great new content, adding value to the world and interviewing amazing guests every single week.
The emails and stories we receive from listeners around the globe brings us joy in fuels our mission to unleash human potential. I love hearing from listeners. If you want to reach out, share your story or just say hi, shoot me an email. My email is email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear from you and I read and respond personally to every single listener email. The greatest compliment you can give us is a referral to a friend either live or online. If you enjoyed this episode, please, leave us an awesome review and subscribe on iTunes. That helps us in the algorithm and gets more and more people discovering the Science of Success.
I get a ton of listeners asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all these information?” Because of that, we’ve created an amazing free guide for all of our listeners. You can get it by texting the word “smarter”, that’s “smarter” to the number 44222, or you can just go to successpodcast.com, that’s successpodcast.com and joining our email list.
Don’t forget, if you want to get all these incredible information, links, transcripts, everything we just talked about in the show and much more, be sure to check out our show notes. Just go to successpodcast.com and hit the show notes button at the top.
Thanks again and we’ll see you on the next episode of the Science of Success.