Upper Limit Problems and Limiting Beliefs and Fears! Oh My!

Upper Limit Problems

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions set off to see the wizard on the yellow brick road. As they enter the scary forest, they chant the well-known phrase, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” As I considered the challenge of upper limit problems, limiting beliefs, and fears, I was hearing their chant in my head.


Dorothy, the Tin Man, and Scarecrow all feared things that turned out to not be real threats – the lion they encountered was a scaredy cat. The Wicked Witch of the West was overcome by water.

Often what keeps us from making the Big Leap into our Genius Work, the Masterpiece Work that God created for us, the work that uses our highest and best to make a bigger impact in the world – are limiting beliefs and fears we carry with us.

The Upper Limit Problem

Gay Hendricks calls these fears the Upper Limit Problem. The Upper Limit Problem is a learned response to success that rebounds you to the lower level you where you previously were. It constricts our ability to move into our Zone of Genius. Somewhere along the way, we’ve picked up messages that place a limit or constraint on the amount of success, love, and money we deserve. Any time we move beyond the amount of success, love, and money we believe we deserve, we unconsciously blow it up, because of limiting beliefs and fears we’re not even aware of on a conscious level. We believe subconsciously that we don’t deserve this level of success, love or money.

This can happen in both our work and our relationships. Often the two are intertwined; I know they have been in my life.

Earlier in my career, I traveled occasionally for work. I wasn’t a road warrior, but traveled for various reasons, leaving my husband and children here at home without me. Trust me, they managed just fine without me for the periods of time I was gone. They probably appreciated the meals their dad provided more than the “healthy” food I prepared on a regular basis!

Like clockwork, when I returned from a business trip, I would always end up bickering with my husband about something ridiculous. It seemed I couldn’t reintegrate into the family without picking on something that did or didn’t get done.

In retrospect, I believe this was an upper limit problem in both my professional and personal life. I had the opportunity to attend conferences, supervise photo shoots, sit behind the mirror for focus groups, and oversee publicity campaigns. I was in my element in the world of marketing and branding.

Then I came home and shifted gears to wife/mom/household manager. I loved those roles, too, but the relationship side of them was very different. Bickering with my husband was definitely an indicator of the shift between the professional me and the personal me at that stage of my life. There were also limiting beliefs involved here, related to my capacity to be both a professional in the marketplace and a wife/mom who is present to her family.

Removing the Upper Limit Problem

The Upper Limit Problem will keep us stuck until we expose it. Hendricks says,

“….the upper limit problem cannot be solved in the usual way we solve problems; by gathering information or replacing one set of information with another. The Upper Limit Problem must be dis-solved, not solved. You dissolve it by shining a laser like beam of awareness on its underpinnings – the false foundations that hold the Upper Limit Problem in place. When you shine the light of awareness on the underpinnings, they disappear. Then you are free to soar, explore, and rest at home in the no-limits zone of your ultimate success.”

Removing the Upper Limit Problem allows us to step freely into our Zone of Genius. When we dis-solve those messages that limit us, we are free to contribute at our highest level. When we trust that the work we’re doing is the work God created for us long ago, we are more confident. We step more fully into the impact and fulfillment we are made for.

Awareness is Key

Awareness is the key to removing the Upper Limit Problem. When we recognize and dissolve the limiting beliefs and fears that underlie our Upper Limit Problem, we move more fully into our Zone of Genius. Self-awareness requires the time to reflect on where the limiting beliefs lie. It requires us to acknowledge our fears so we can overcome them.

What if I'm not in my Zone of Genius?

At this point, I’d like to take a moment to address a potential misconception around the zone you’re in. If you’re not in your Zone of Genius at this moment, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure at life. In response to last week’s post on the Four Zones, several people have responded to me regarding the Zone they’re currently in. I’ve realized that we need to explore the potential reasons you may not be in your Zone of Genius right now, so next week we’re going to explore that, using the comments from LinkedIn and email replies as a jumping off point. I won’t mention any names, I’m just going to address the situation you’re in from a Big Leap perspective.

Until then, where do you see possible Upper Limit Problems interfering with your ability to make the leap to your Zone of Genius? I’d love to hear your story!

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One Response
  1. Georgia Achtermann

    Interesting food for thought . . .

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