Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Big Leap

We all have a maximum amount of success, happiness, and love that we think we deserve. If we surpass that perceived Upper Limit in any of those areas, we will do something that brings us down to a level that we feel comfortable with. That is the premise of The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

Do you know these moments when you are relaxed, have no urgent worries and are fully present? For a moment you can feel perfectly happy. Usually, that moment doesn’t last long. Our mind will start wandering and we’ll realize that we should be putting the thrash out, or water the plants. Or we start worrying about a work deadline.
What would it take to extend that moment of happiness?

When we are in a harmonious relationship and we feel an abundance of love for our partner, we find it very challenging to hold on to that feeling. We start looking for used cups left on a desk or stinky socks on the bathroom floor. Anything to give us an excuse to get into a squabble. Bickering will certainly pop the fairy tale bubble and get us back to reality, where we feel comfortable.

When we are financially successful or successful in our job we might make a rash investment or start criticizing our colleagues.
You get the idea.
The challenge of The Big Leap is to become aware of your upper limit problem and to learn to catch yourself when you are doing something, or even better, when you are about to do something, to bring yourself down in any area of your life.
The ultimate goal, or Universal Success Mantra, is to “expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as we inspire those around us to do the same”.

This might feel over the top and a bit too lofty to you. It does to me. But apart from the big shiny mantra, I do think Gay Hendricks has got us sussed out. We get in our own way to avoid having to live up to our full potential. We don’t believe that we are fast, strong, smart, or special enough to deserve what we secretly desire. We might not even know what it is that we desire.

Do you dare to dream big and out loud? What would you like to do, achieve, or have? Are you actively working towards getting there? Do you have a plan and have you reached out to people who might be able to help?
Writing this made me realize that the answer to most of these questions is “no” for me. The goals that I dare to admit I have are either modest or have been there for some time without significant progress to show for them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m doing very well. I have a great job and I work for the best company in the world, I’m enjoying working out a lot and I’m reading more than I dare to admit here. But I already have all of these things and there’s an opportunity to push myself more.
I’ll share some of my goals or dreams to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

  • Run 10km in under 50 minutes. I’ve done this in the past and I can probably do this right now if I would be willing to suffer through it. I’m mostly scared of trying and the amount of suffering involved so I started another training program to get even more ready. I should think about aiming higher.
  • Balance in a handstand. Why? Just because. There’s a lot of work to be done on this one. I’m enjoying the work and I like the goal. Getting there won’t be life-changing but it’s fun.
  • Learning to play the piano. I started this 2 years ago. Having first heard and then told myself all my life that while I love music I have absolutely no talent for making music, I’m constantly battling a fixed mindset that tells me I will never be any good. It takes all my discipline not to write that while I absolutely love it, I’m still no good at it. There we go, I managed to sneak it in. I feel relieved but I’ll play worse because of it. A classic example of getting in my own way.
  • Write more. This has been a topic on and off for a long time. One of the actions I took to make this a reality was to start this blog four years ago. It was a good step. I’ve been able to improve my writing and I still enjoy the journey.
    I also regularly get to write for work, which makes me feel like I write “for the greater good”. Not for world peace or equality for all. But I get to represent the company and aim to get people engaged in an offering or an initiative, invested in a result, or excited about learning and growing together. I love that challenge and the clear purpose and flow that comes with it.
    I would still like to write more and I’m still stuck on not knowing what it is that I would like to write. Back to the drawing board. Or writing table.

So where does all this leave us, and me?
Reading The Big Leap with an open mind will get you thinking. Even if you don’t want to follow the author to the summit of the journey, the book can provide a proverbial kick up the behind to step out of your comfort zone and think about ways in which you can push yourself more.
Writing this post helped me to structure the ideas I had after reading the book and gave me some new insights. I will think about my next steps and I will challenge myself to be bolder in both setting goals and realizing them.

The Book Thief

The beginning of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of heartbreak and despair. It’s January 1939 and we’re on a train that’s on its way to Munich. We’re traveling with a 9-year-old girl, her mother, and her younger brother. All of them are cold, sick, and hungry. The mother is bringing her children to a foster family in Munich in the hope it will give them a chance at a better life.
Unfortunately, the boy never makes it. He dies on the train.

The family is taken off the train at the next town by two guards. Two days later, the boy is buried there. It’s where the book thief steals her first book. It’s her most prized possession, even if she can’t read. Even if the book is a grave digger’s handbook.
After the funeral, the girl and her mother continue on the journey to Munich, where Liesel Meminger meets Rosa and Hans Hubermann, her foster parents.

The narrator of the book is Death. I don’t mean that the narrator died. The narrator is Death itself. Death was never far away in those years, so it’s quite convenient to have him narrate the book. He was there anyway. His unusual point of view gives the book and the story something special.

After the painful start, you expect the entire book to be full of heartbreak. That’s not the case. A significant part of the book is about learning to read, being a family, making friends, accordions, helping those who need help and making more friends.
I did read most of it with my teeth clenched, expecting the world to end any moment now. It meant that I had to pace myself through the book.

The book is beautifully written. But in the end, the world does end. Most of it anyway. The second to last chapter made me cry the most. It also felt awfully short. I wanted to read much more about it.
I wish I had known Liesel and Hans Hubermann and Max. They were able to create joy and beauty under terrible circumstances. They defied the harshness of the world around them and continued to be kind, to love music and reading and life. And they shared these gifts with others where and when they could. They gave hope in a hopeless time.