At the end of 2012, after a long string of business successes, I experienced burnout and dramatically scaled back my business.
My first big success in 2000, the publishing of the InfoGuru Manual, brought me wide attention and a dramatically increased income.
That led to Marketing Action Groups, my Certification Program, and the Marketing Mastery Program. Dailyhawker was earning as much money in a month as I used to make in a year 12 years before.
One day I woke up, looked at everything I had to do to ramp up for the next Mastery Program and said to myself, “I just can’t do it. It’s too much work.”
I went back to working with clients individually and delivering various online courses for the next five years.
I intentionally cut my income by $20,000 per month. It turns out that this was not a big issue. I could easily live on less money and in many ways enjoyed the reduced stress and demands to perform at my peak.
Now I’m looking at this scaling back through a different lens.
I’m currently reading a powerful book by Gay Hendricks called, The Big Leap.
The core idea in this book is that when it comes to success, most of us have what he calls, “An upper limit problem.”
Frequently this is simply never being able to reach a certain level of success or income no matter how hard we try.
Or as in my case, I hit a level of success way beyond what I previously thought was possible and then did something to sabotage that success.
We might even reach levels of stratospheric success and then find some way to screw up some other area of our lives.
Hendricks talks about four different zones of success:
Incompetence – where we are not doing well in our work or life and not having much success.
Competence – where we are having some degree of success but are not really thriving and loving what we do.
Excellence – where we are doing really well, and enjoying a lot of success but often feeling stressed or even burnt out.
Genius – where we are putting most of our time and attention on doing what we really love and fully celebrating and expressing the gifts we’ve been given.
What I realized from this book is that I had built my business from incompetence to competence, and then to excellence – but had then put on the brakes.
Taking the leap to the genius zone and staying there was just too much for me to handle.
So I stepped back to what I was excellent at, a comfort zone in my business if you will.
Someone once told me that in life there is no hovering. You’re either going up or down – forward or backward.
But what is it that keeps us from living and working in our Genius Zone, where the limits seem to be non-existent, where creativity and energy are boundless?
Hendricks outlines four fundamental beliefs that continually pull us back to our comfort zones, where it feels better to hold back, play a little smaller or even sabotage ourselves.
In my experience, there are several more than four. The following are the ones I’m most familiar with, for myself and with client’s I’ve worked with.
Belief #1. “I am fundamentally flawed or unworthy.” Like all limiting beliefs this one usually comes from an early life experience such as diminishing or critical messages from one’s parents.
Belief #2. “If I succeed, I’ll be rejected or abandoned.” You believe family and friends will leave you behind because you’ve surpassed them or broken “family rules.”
Belief #3. “If I’m successful, more demands will be put on me to succeed even more.” In other word, success equals discipline, pain, and struggle. A very demanding father can trigger this one!
Belief #4. “I’ve taken my success as far as it can go.” This is the voice of someone who lives in the zone of excellence but who has no inkling that a zone of genius even exists.
To some degree, all of these beliefs have limited me.
They’ve prevented me from making big leaps, from taking risks, from doing things that are exciting and new, from going all-in on projects that inspire and delight.
What I learned from Byron Katie is that the first step to freedom is to recognize a limiting belief and then to simply tell the truth about it. That saps the belief of its power.
With this realization, I’m now firmly dedicated to working on projects and offering services and programs that are reflections of my zone of genius.
It’s certainly better than continuing to live and work in my comfort zone for the rest of my life.