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Transcript #26: Conscious Luck and Upper Limit Problems with Gay Hendricks


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Episode #26: Conscious Luck and Upper Limit Problems with Gay Hendricks

Caneel Joyce:

Welcome to Allowed. I’m your host, Caneel Joyce. So I want to give you a quick intro, because coming up, you are going to hear a conversation between myself and the amazing author, Gay Hendricks. But right before, I wanted to just preface that this podcast was actually recorded not today but in early March, right before everything started going on with the coronavirus. So here I am, actually in my home studio. If you’re watching us on video, on YouTube, you can see that it’s Saturday morning, and I just woke up. And here I am at home, and we’re living in a really different world. I got my face mask right here. But when we recorded this, it was a really different world. I just wanted to note that and let you know that everything in this episode is super relevant to right now. I can’t find a time where I’ve been more interested in understanding my own unique zone of genius, my ability to create conscious luck. However, we didn’t have that info, so just as a heads up.

 

So another thing I wanted to mention is that you can always access not just the videos of every single one of these podcast recordings but also a lot of free tools and resources at Caneel.com/podcast. So if you’re not aware, we do have tons or resources there, videos. Everything is up on YouTube, and all the tools that are mentioned in today’s episode, like today Gay is offering free worksheets for you, you can get all those on the website. And you can also sign up for my awesome online group coaching program called forward fearless. You’ve heard me mention this program before. We have an enrollment period coming up soon. We only enroll it a couple times a year. And if you’re interested in being in really what is the classroom for the allowed podcast with a small and select group of really incredible individuals who’ve raised their hand and said, “Yes, I want to go really deep with this in my life,” then please go and sign up. Now let’s get into the show.

 

Thank you for continuing to show up each week. If you are a new listener, I’m so thrilled to have you here. I want to thank all of you who have been reaching out to me over these last few weeks. We’ve had a lot of reviews coming in on iTunes, and I’m hearing about the changes that you have discovered that you’re capable of making in your lives and in your leadership. So thank you. Thank you, leaders, thank you, fearless ones. This is a big deal, for you to show up for your own growth. Now today I am so excited to have coming into my virtual studio on video, one of my favorite personal development authors of all time, and is name is Gay Hendricks. You may have heard me reference him before. He is an incredible author, incredible teacher, and he’s actually the coach and teacher who has coached and taught my own coaches and teachers. So this is truly kind of one of those greats, that many of us are standing on the shoulders of giants, and he is definitely one of the giants.

 

So Gay Hendricks has been a leader in fields of relationship transformation and body-mind transformation for more than 25 years. After earning his PhD from Stanford in 1974, Gay served as a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Colorado for 21 years. He has new written more than 40 books, including best sellers that you may have heard of, including Five Wishes, The Big Leap, Conscious Loving, Conscious Loving Ever After, the last two of which he coauthored with his mate for more than 35 years, the lovely Kathlyn Hendricks. As you can tell, this man loves to write. That is truly in his zone of genius. And as he will explain today, and as he explained in his latest book, The Joy of Genius, his work shows how to eliminate negative thinking and bring forth true creativity. So I want to share with you, there are some great downloadable tools that Gay is going to be sharing with us in addition to a link where you can pre order his new book, Conscious Luck, which is coming out on May 12th. So you can get that ahead of time. We’re going to give links to all of those at the show notes at Caneel.com/podcast. There you will find a diagram showing you what the genius spiral looks like.

 

And this is the latest and greatest thinking from Gay around what the zone of genius is really all about, that it’s actually not just a zone. It’s a spiral that keeps on going for the rest of your life, should you open yourself to it. He’s also going to share an openness to learning scale, where you can measure your own willingness to learn. And this, he says, is one of the crucial differentiators of leaders of top, top companies like top-level CEO leaders versus those who are not getting to that level. And if you want to be there, or you’re already there on your own, this is one of the most important if not the most important things, is to be open to learn. Hi, Gay, thank you so much for coming on. What a thrill.

Gay Hendricks:

Well thank you. I’m really happy to be with you, Caneel.

Caneel Joyce:

Thank you so much. I know you’re up in Santa Barbara today, and we’re both expecting some rain to come in. So I hope that we get to hear that on your roof of your office as it arrives.

Gay Hendricks:

I can feel the first thrummings of it now.

Caneel Joyce:

So I wanted to share with you a little, quick story, the first time that I learned of your work. So I was on the phone with a friend, who’s also a CEO coach, and sharing with him a roadblock that I seem to continually keep bumping into. And it would be things get going really, really, really well, and then I can’t figure out how to get out of this over scheduled mode. When things go well, I get over scheduled. This is something I’ve talked about before on the podcast. And I was telling this to my friend, Dave, and he said, “It sounds like you might have an upper limit problem.” What is that? And that’s how he initially introduced me to your book, The Big Leap. This concept of The Big Leap really changed my life and the way that I see my own patterns, and I know it’s been the same for my own clients. And I’d love to hear a little bit about how you came to that concept. And then we’ll talk about what you’re up to next. I know you’re up to some exciting stuff.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, thank you. Well this goes back to about when my daughter was about five or six years old. I had just taken a new job. I was a research psychologist at Stanford. I just finished my PhD in counseling psychology, and I had my first big job there. And I knew that I was going to go on to become a professor at the University of Colorado the following year, but I was doing this one-year research project, and it was in my favorite field and everything. And so one day I was in my office. And on this particular day, my daughter had gone away to sleepover camp for the first time, for three days, where she was actually going to be having her first experience of sleeping away from home. And so you have kids, right?

Caneel Joyce:

Yes, I do.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, well you’ve probably been through this before too. But it turned out that I was feeling really good after lunch this particular day, and I came back to my office, and I was sitting down, and suddenly I didn’t feel good anymore. And I realized the only thing that was differentiate is that I’d had a worry thought about my daughter at this new came, because she’d only been there about four or five hours since I’d driven here there and dropped her off. So I got worried about her. I kind of had a picture of her feeling all lonely and off by herself and something like that. And so I called the camp, and I said, “This is Dr. Hendricks.” And the woman that ran the camp, she kind of chuckled.

 

And she said, “You know, you’re the third parent that’s called about this today.” And she said, “I can see Amanda. She’s out on the soccer field, kicking a ball around with some other girls. So she doesn’t look at all lonely or upset.” And she said, “It’s probably, if I may say so, you, that you’re missing her, and you’re projecting some of that on to her.” I thought it was a very-

Caneel Joyce:

Wise counselor.

Gay Hendricks:

Wise counsel, and I said, “Really? That’s good, okay.” So after I got off the phone, I started thinking. How did I go from feeling good to a worry thought about my daughter? Why would that even happen? And that’s when I started to pick apart the upper limit problem. I realized it’s like I have an allergy to feeling good all the time, and so I dial up something to happen that makes me not feel good. And I started applying that to other areas of life. At the time, you’ll appreciate this, I think, Caneel, because you counsel and coach a lot of high-tech startups. And at the time, this was back in the ’70s, when Silicon Valley was just getting underway. And so there were all these incredibly smart executives from Hewlett-Packard. And well, Apple wasn’t there yet, but Hewlett-Packard and Varian and all of these-

Caneel Joyce:

Park.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, exactly. And so I started thinking, well I was working with them, and I started thinking, does this apply to them too? And sure enough, I kept talking with one after the other that would tell me a story that went like this. One of them would say, “I got a big promotion at work, and then I went home that night, and then we got in the most awful fight with my wife.” Or sometimes it would go the other way around. “My wife and I had the most wonderful weekend. We were away at [inaudible 00:09:12] for our 13 anniversary. And we came back, and then the bleep hit the fan at work.” And so there were all these things like expansion. And so I started calling that the ULP or the upper limit problem. It’s like you have an ULP, things can be thing good, whomp. And so that’s where the idea of the upper limit problem came from. First I saw it in myself, and then I started seeing it in all these high-tech executives in one way or the other.

 

Now Katie and I have been around the world, I think 33 times, last time we counted, teaching our seminars over the past 40 years that we’ve been teaching and married together. And I have not found a culture yet where the upper limit problem doesn’t play a role. We’ve been to India and Nepal and everywhere all over Europe, New Zealand. Everywhere you go, there’s this thing that I call the upper limit problem. Down in Australia, they have another term for it. They call it the tall poppy syndrome. And the idea is that you’re not supposed to stick your head out above the crowd, because if you stick your head out, you’ll be the tall poppy. The farmer is going to come on and cut you off first. And so when somebody says the tall poppy syndrome in Australia, it’s always accompanied by … They always say the tall poppy syndrome.

Caneel Joyce:

And getting cut off.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, and you can kind of see why a couple of hundred years ago the people that came there after the aboriginals were prisoners in chains from the British aisles. And so it’s a convict kind of a mentality, this idea of not sticking your head out above the crowd, kind of stay down in the pack.

Caneel Joyce:

Yes, wow. I mean the universality of this phenomenon, of I reach a level of success or joy or fulfillment that I’ve never experienced before, and then I immediately, non-consciously somehow invite in or create an event which might just be a thought, a worry thought, as you put it, to bring me back down to that level that I’m used to. But that’s universal, makes so much sense to me, because we are animals, and we’re always feeling into our internal body to understand, am I okay right now? And the way we do that is, is this what’s familiar, or is there something different, and I’m a little scared?

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, that’s very well put. And let me tell you, here’s the way fear plays into this. Imagine, well I had this experience a few years ago. I’m a little bit afraid of heights. It doesn’t incapacitate me or anything, but I notice that if I’m going up the outside elevator of one of those sky scrapers.

Caneel Joyce:

Me too.

Gay Hendricks:

And my wife is a bit of a white knuckle elevator rider too. But anyway, the fear of heights, I can even remember where it started as a kid, when my grandad, we were on top of the baseball stadium that he ran. And we were on the roof of it, and for some reason, I wanted to look over the edge. And he wouldn’t let me go up to the edge where the railing was. So he held me up and kind of held me out over the railing. And I remember having a … kind of thing. And so the fear of heights, I was on a … I forget the name of the thing, but you pull it behind a boat out in Hawaii. Parasailing, that’s the name of it.

Caneel Joyce:

Yes, yes, yes.

Gay Hendricks:

And all of a sudden you take off, and I was doing great as we were kind of beginning to lift off. But all of a sudden there was a whoosh, and we went up about 100 feet in the air when the boat really took off. Whoa, and it was like I left my stomach behind. So that’s kind of the way fear plays into the upper limit problem. You start succeeding a little bit more, and you trigger specific fears that I talk about in the big leap. Like for example, a lot of us carry around the fear that we’re fundamentally undeserving of good things happening to us, maybe because you got abused as a child or treated poorly or just a lot of disapproval came your way. You might’ve tucked inside and said, “Okay, I don’t really deserve the good things of life.” Well that’s just a fear, and that fear often, though, comes up when you begin to succeed more.

 

Because that whole fear says, “Wait a minute, you can’t succeed. You’re a loser.” And then you bring yourself back. You get sick or have an accident or start an argument.

Caneel Joyce:

I’m one of those people that I’m, for whatever reason, I think I was just born highly sensitive. And many of us who were born highly sensitive empathic, we become shame prone. We are looking into the environment for … Am I accepted? Am I rejected constantly? And if not, if I’m not accepted, it’s something about me. All children personalize things. I think in particular, if you’re highly sensitive, and there’s been some interesting research on that from Gabor Mate and others. So when I hear that fear come up, I’m connecting this to a heights story, actually, I want to share with you. It sounds to me like I’m experiencing more success than ever before, and it’s happening to me. Therefore this must not be success, and maybe I’ve been misreading this entire situation. And it happens in like a hairline of a moment.

Gay Hendricks:

That’s a beautiful example of an upper limit thought right there, because that one little thought, a thought doesn’t weight anything. And it takes a 10th of a second, but it has the capacity to go whomp.

Caneel Joyce:

My gosh, and it literally happened to me. So let me tell you. My dad and I decided we wanted to learn to go hang gliding together, and he lives in Manhattan Beach. And there’s a really beautiful spot that’s just north of Manhattan Beach, where you can go hang gliding, and it’s a very safe place to go, because you’re really only going maybe 20 feet. The hill that you’re jumping off of is about 20 feet high, and it’s all sand, and it’s kind of no big deal. And we took off, and I’d had maybe three or four rides at this point. I took off and caught this big gust of wind that pushed me way higher than anybody in our class had gone or than I had gone. And I was loving it. I just thought, I’m doing so well. And then I must’ve had that little hairline thought of, is this doing well, or am I in tons of danger? And that’s when I lost control, and I plummeted to the ground nose first, and I broke my wrist. Years later there was an article in our local newspaper that said this is one of the safest places in the country to learn. We’ve only had one injury here, and it was a broken wrist. And that was me, so yes, it is. We literally can bring ourselves down, literally.

Gay Hendricks:

Well you’re a braver human being than I am. My wife has actually jumped out of an airplane and parachuted to the ground to overcome here fear of heights. And I stayed home that morning and played golf.

Caneel Joyce:

My gosh, that messes up my stomach just hearing about that.

Gay Hendricks:

The only way I’d get parachute sailing would be if somebody held me at gunpoint and made me jump off the cliff. That would be about it.

Caneel Joyce:

Wow, and did it work?

Gay Hendricks:

No.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s great. So interesting, so this is how it works. It’s something physiological in us. And I love this thing about your work, that it so connects the human experience of consciousness with the innate animal nature of us as beings on this planet right now.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, that’s a very key point. I appreciate you making that, Caneel, because I always say to my students in our seminars, I say, “You have two ways, basically, of looking at human beings. One if often promulgated in religious text, where we’re a sinner who’s been spared. Or you could either look at yourself as an extremely fine animal. And I counsel people to look at themselves as an extremely fine animal that’s learning to have a spiritual experience on Earth rather than a failed angel.

Caneel Joyce:

Yes, thank you, I love that. I love that, and I actually think that it is very true, that we are fine animals. We’re born super dependent on each other, more dependent than any other animal species on the planet. And you can tie that back to we have this really short gestational period relative to our size and our brain power. And it’s because we’re bipedal, and there’s all this cool anthropology around that. But I think that because we’re born so dependent, we are strongly attracted to the illusion that we are living at the effect of.

Gay Hendricks:

I really agree with that. I was just watching a nature study the other day, a nature documentary on orangutans, and they care for their children for seven years, which is very long in the animal kingdom. I said, “Boy, I would love to interview a little orangutan and just see what the experience of that is and what it causes later on, because I think a lot of us think of ourselves as separate from the universe. There’s a great line in a James Joyce book, where it says, “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” And that idea, that we kind of separate outside of ourselves, and I think that has an effect on how we experience the universe itself. Because I think either we experience ourselves as a separate entity dealing with the universe, or you can see yourself as a part of the universe. That’s the way I think it makes more sense, really, because we’re not that special. Human beings are special in many ways, but we’re not so special that we stand outside of nature, kind of looking at it. We are part of nature.

Caneel Joyce:

We are.

Gay Hendricks:

We are in a oneness with everything. And once we drop the illusion of separation. Life becomes a whole different possibility, because then you see that the real trick is engaging consciously with evolution so that you expand along with the way the universe itself is going.

Caneel Joyce:

Yes, this is connected to so many themes that we’ve explored on this podcast. So we’ve talked about how humans are animals. We are herd animals. And we had an equine leadership trainer and therapist on the show. Her name is Beth Killough. She does some incredible work, and also a couple weeks ago we had Simon Darcy on the show, and he was talking about authentic relating and how quickly we fall into this illusion of separation but how to quickly find those connections. These are really strong themes that so much of your work is connected to. I really love it for that. I’ve been wondering lately, it seems to be such a fundamental piece of human nature, that we create technology. We can’t help it. We cannot help but to invent, and that’s our nature. And if our nature is one with the universe, then all of this destruction that we are doing of the planet seems to actually … I mean to believe that that is separate from nature, I can’t believe that that’s going to be helpful in us reversing this pattern of us being destructive to the universe. I think we really need to embrace that we do this in part because of just our incredible inventiveness and our creative forces, that we can be conscious about those.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, I remember reading that when I was a history student back in college, that somebody wrote way back in the 13th century when the crossbow was invented. They were saying, “This is it. We will be able to go no further, because the ultimate weapon is here. Nobody will ever want to fight wars again, because we know what the outcome is going to be.” And that’s 7 or 800 years ago.

Caneel Joyce:

How many times have we heard that?

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, and so now, though I think we have a new opportunity, because the rate of change appears to be picking up. And I have a kind of a cosmic theory about that. If you look at where we actually reside in the Milky Way gallery, we’re sort of halfway between the dense center of it and the spiraling out of it into diffusion. And so we’re halfway between the density of the center and the complete, open, spacious expansiveness of the edge. And so I think we have these two cosmic pulls in us. One is to expand, and one is to contract. And once we get into harmony with that, things move very well. But if we’re resisting every move of that process, human beings go through expansions and contractions constantly. And on the psychological and spiritual level, there’re whole systems that are designed, like astrology and things like that, that are designed to tell you what’s happening next and what you need to expand into. But you don’t need an astrology chart to figure that out on yourself. On a daily basis, we’re being called upon to expand, to respond to what’s going on right now in our own environment.

 

And it’s always rough sailing. Right now it feels like very rough sailing, but if you look back again at the 13th century, when the plague wiped out half the population, and it was absolutely the most calamitous hundred years that anybody could have ever dreamed up, plus there was no telephones or anything like that. You had to send a letter. You had to get somebody to write your letter in Latin and send it and wait six months for a reply. So things have changed and speeded up enormously. And I have no doubt that the future is going to be even more speeded up than it is now. So the actual human technology of how to go through change is possibly your most important asset as a human being as far as success goes. In our seminars for business leaders, we teach openness to learning. That’s our highest value.

 

I had the great opportunity back during the ’90s after my book, the Corporate Mystique, came out. I did a lot of corporate consulting, where I would go around and work with a CEO for a day. And usually what I would do is I would arrange to come in the day before, and I would shadow the person around, just walk around and see what he did on the course of a day. And then I would work with him the next day, or her, as the case was. And so I had the opportunity to do that with people from Motorola and other and particularly down at Dell computer, where I had the opportunity to spend many consulting days with Michael Dell and his two top people in the company at that time, Kevin Rollins and Mort Topfer. Well what I want to get at here is that at the very top of companies, you see people who are so open to learning that they walk down the halls and soak up learning. Like Michael Dell, I use him as a great example, because when I worked with him, he was only in his 30s, and he was already a billionaire.

 

And I’ve never seen a person digest change as quickly. I mean I’ve said things to him that other executives argued with me about, and he didn’t even bother, kind of radical things. Like why don’t you go tell the truth to dot, dot, dot, rather than talking to me about it, very radical things. But every single time something like that happened, boom, he implemented it. And so did Mort, the number two guy and Kevin, the number three guy. It was just amazing to see that happen. So I developed this real passion for teaching openness to learning. And so we have whole technology of how to do that with a test and all that, but it’s all about how nimble can you be in the moment to open up and digest things that are going to help you right there.

Caneel Joyce:

I’m sure that our listeners really would love to hear, would love to find out that about themselves. We’re going to link to this test in the show notes at Caneel.com/podcast. What do you see in contrast? This is remarkable about Michael Dell, but why was it remarkable? What other behavior have you seen when people are asked to just simply go and speak to the person directly instead of talking about it to me?

Gay Hendricks:

Well human beings are capable of creating enormous dramas to avoid what I call the 10-second, sweaty conversation. The 10-second, sweaty conversation, where you go and say, “I’m looking for another job now because of dot, dot, dot, dot, dot.” Or when you say to your beloved, “I had a steamy kiss with a colleague at the convention last weekend.” Those 10-minute, I mean, sorry, 10-second, we used to call them 10-minute, but now they’re 10-second conversations are absolutely crucial to being nimble, because I keep using that word, nimble. If you think of dancing through the complexities of the day, I really think that that’s a good attitude to bring, because if you avoid the complexities of the day rather than facing them directly, you’re just putting a kick-me sign on your back from the universe.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah, and your world gets smaller and smaller and smaller as you try to navigate without confronting those things.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah, drama is a great way to upper limit yourself, isn’t it?

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, I’ve gotten in the habit of watching a couple of the crime shows on television. And if you’ll notice, every time somebody will ask a direct question of a criminal like, “Did you kill Sammy Smith?”

 

They’ll say, “How dare you accuse me of that? Who do you think I am?” Rather than just saying, “Yeah,” or, “No.”

Caneel Joyce:

You’re bad, you’re bad.

Gay Hendricks:

Interestingly enough, I had the opportunity. The value of those 10-second, sweaty conversations or 10-minute conversations about important things are healing. And I have a good example of that, had the opportunity some years ago to talk to a fellow who was one of the leading lie detector operators for the FBI. And he’d done something like 3,000 lie detector things with criminals. And the most amazing thing he said was how good people felt when they confessed. And here’s the great example. He said every Christmas time, he gets showered with Christmas cards from people who are in prison, because they confessed to him. But they’re sending him a letter of appreciation from prison for changing their lives.

Caneel Joyce:

Whoa.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, I love that, because it speaks to the healing power of these precious, little moments of conversation that we need to have with people. And I’ve taught probably, I don’t know, maybe 1,000 executives now how to have these little 10-second, I call them 10-second miracle conversations, and because they often produce tremendous results very quickly. The guy who was the number two to Michael Dell at the time was this amazing manager named Mort Topfer, and he’d been at Motorola before, but he’d been at Dell for some years. And I used to go there early on consulting days. I would like to get out there, sort of try to get out there before everybody else got out there. But no matter when I tried to get out there to be there earlier than everybody else, Mort’s car was always sitting in the parking lot. So Lord knows when he got up. But anyway, one day I was working with him in the Dell conference room. I don’t know why we were set up in there, but it was a huge room with a big table. But it was just the two of us sitting across the table. So I pointed out something to Mort that turned out to be life changing and I think changed something about the culture of the company too.

 

He had a habit of blowing up in anger at people. And he’d grown up in Brooklyn, where people get angry and bang the table at dinner time, and it’s no big deal. But in Austin, Texas, that didn’t go over too well, because a lot of the executives, they came from environments where things were quiet. And so people yelling and screaming made an impact on them. So Mort would blow up at somebody, and five minutes later, he’d be over it. He didn’t care. But then the person would take two or three weeks to get over it. And so I was trying to work with him, and I pointed out one little piece of body language, which was when he was talking about that, he touched his chest a few times. And I said, “You know, Mort, it looks to me like underneath that anger that you blew up is probably some sadness.”

 

And when he got in touch with it, he said, “Yeah.” And I showed him how most times our anger is kind of stored up in the upper part of our body, in our jaws, fists and shoulders and that kind of thing, whereas sadness is more down in the middle part of our chest and fear. Then you feel it more down in the belly with butterflies in the stomach and things like that. So I always say in our seminars, we’re a parfait of feeling with the anger on top, the sadness in the middle and the fear at the bottom of everything.

Caneel Joyce:

And shame is underneath all of that.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, because shame is a special quality. Shame is a variant. It’s a mixture of fear, sadness and anger, but it shows up further down in your body, often teams. Even people tell me about feeling it in their legs, down in the backs of their legs. So it’s an ad mixture, I think, that gets implanted societally if you grow up with shame as a tool in your particular family. I addressed that in my new book, Conscious Luck. I just got the galleys for it. It’s not available quite yet.

Caneel Joyce:

Woo-hoo.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, this is my one and only copy. I’ll send you one as soon as I get it.

Caneel Joyce:

Eight secrets to intentionally change your fortune, Conscious Luck.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes, and we’ve done a lot of work over in Asia. And they’re much more believers in luck, I think, than you often find elsewhere. And so we talk a lot about shame in this book, because in Asian societies of various kinds that I’ve worked with, shame is a very big deal. It’s also a big deal in western societies too, but a lot of times shame is used as a specific tool of parenting in a lot of families. So if you’re going to study three feelings as a therapist or as a parent or whatever, study those three, because those are the ones that show up more than anything else.

Caneel Joyce:

Anger, sadness, fear.

Gay Hendricks:

Anger, sadness and fear, because even if you look at something like shame, there’s something you’re scared of while you’re simultaneously feeling shame.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah, it’s an avoidance feeling, for sure. So I’m so excited now to talk about Conscious Luck. I think I shared with you in the last time we were chatting about this research that I got exposed to when I was doing my PhD at Berkeley. But I believe she was from Stanford, if memory serves, or Harvard, sharing some of her doctoral research. And she was of Chinese descent, talking about that there is a science to being lucky but connected it, memorably, to this idea in Chinese culture that you can be born with a lucky nose, that there’s a certain nose shape that makes you more lucky somehow. And how much is placebo? And you’re fulfilling these prophesies, but I like that idea that if I’m born, and I’m told my whole life I’m lucky, just as I was told I’m special, whatever, I can fulfill that. I can fulfill that, so I’m so curious to read conscious luck, and I’d love you to tell us all about it.

Gay Hendricks:

Okay, well one of the discoveries, I believe I know the researcher that you’re talking about. There is a woman from Stanford who’s done a lot of research on this, and my colleague, Carol, who wrote the book with me, I actually interviewed her. But she actually has a TED talk on that subject too. But the big finding is that you can change your luck consciously. You don’t have to go around feeling unlucky. Most people have just never considered that possibility. I didn’t consider it myself until there was this one moment when I was in the ninth grade, where for some reason they’d taken the whole school to see a movie in the local movie theater. Maybe it was a bible movie like The 10 Commandments or something like that. So anyway, we were all in there, and they had a drawing to have several things, and the number one prize was a wrist watch. And so we all put our theater tickets in this big bowl, and they drew one out. And just before they drew, this kid I was sitting next to doing [DeLoach 00:34:11] nudged me and said, “Watch this. I’m going to win.”

 

And I said, “Okay,” and sure enough, they pulled Dewey’s name out and read it off. I was flabbergasted. And I … “How did you know that?” And he said, well, he just won things like that, because one day he decided he was going to be lucky. And I said, “Wait a minute.” So anyway, that filed away in the back of my mind.

 

I always like to use, there’s an old Turkish proverb that says, “If a man discovers a cure for baldness, he will first use it on himself.” And so I discovered this little principle about being consciously lucky. And I decided to just take it on. And so I just said, “Okay, I’m going to be lucky too.”

 

He said, “All right.” And so the next thing that happened to me confirmed it. And I tell the story in the book. I think you’re the first place I’m ever telling this story that’s not in the book, so stand by.

Caneel Joyce:

All right, exclusive.

Gay Hendricks:

We’re making news here. I went into a little shop. It was called Ned’s Smoke Shop. But what it really was was a magazine stand. And he also sold cigars in there and everything, but I went in there, because I read magazines, and he let you read magazines for free. And also, I was a coin collector, and he had a whole rack of coins. He was a coin collector too. So a whole section of the shop was devoted to coin collecting, so I went in there almost every afternoon after shool, and I would hang out there until my mother came after work and picked me up, and we would drive home. Okay, so there’s the context. So I’m about 14 years old, and one afternoon I was in Ned’s and I wanted to go to the movies. And the movie was only a block away. And so I said goodbye, and I walked out. I didn’t tell anybody. I was going to the movies. And I walked out, and as I walked out of the door, I saw a satchel, a big briefcase sitting next to a parking meter. And suddenly it dawned on me what had happened.

 

There was an elderly man who’d been in the coin shop earlier talking to Ned. And he was a famous coin collector, and he had these collections in his satchel. And I saw immediately what had happened. He’d probably put the satchel down to put a coin in the parking meter and then absentmindedly walked off. And so I picked up the satchel, and I went back into Ned’s. And I said, “Hey, this is Mr.” whatever his name was, “satchel, isn’t it?”

 

And Ned said, “My god, there must be $5,000 worth of coins in there.” And I gave it to Ned, went off to the movie theater, didn’t think a thing about it, came back after the movies to Ned’s again to wait for my mom, and a huge drama had unfolded while I was in the movie theater. The elderly man had gone up to have lunch, and during lunch, he’d suddenly realized he was missing his satchel. And he called the police and actually had the restaurant locked down and everybody searched, because he thought somebody in the restaurant had stolen his satchel. And then he went back to Ned’s to talk about this terrible thing. And Ned said, “Here, Gay Hendricks found it.” And so I was in the movie theater. The guy wanted to thank me, but I was in the movie theater and didn’t know about all this. And so when I came back, I found a … Ned said, “Where have you been?”

 

And I said, “I’ve been at the movies. What?”

 

And he said, “My gosh, Mr. Such-and-such was so was so grateful. You just missed him. He’s gone back.” Well anyway, make a long story short, a week or two later, he sent me a beautiful collection of US nickels, the entire collection of A to Z, every single one that had ever been done, which was probably a nice little $50 reward at the time. But this was in 19 … Let’s see, this would be about 1958, so that’d probably be worth about 500, $700 today, something like that. So it was a substantial thing. But anyway, I always think of that as the first lucky break I caught after deciding I was going to be lucky.

Caneel Joyce:

And the luck wasn’t just yours. You also were able to return the coins to him.

Gay Hendricks:

Exactly.

Caneel Joyce:

That was a luck contagion.

Gay Hendricks:

Exactly.

Caneel Joyce:

I love that story. My son would love to hang out with you. He loves comic books and coin. He really wants a coin. I loved those coin challenge little books, where you stick them in the holes. I miss stores like that.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, me too. Actually there was a team of about maybe six or seven of us that were all avid coin collectors when we were 12, 13, 14 years old. And so that was kind of like my little posse back then.

Caneel Joyce:

So fun, so fun. So then you learned how to be lucky.

Gay Hendricks:

I learned how to be lucky, and now I think I have a good way to teach other people how to be lucky, because there’s, in my book, it’s all about eight different tools you can use to make yourself luckier.

Caneel Joyce:

Will you tell us one of the tools?

Gay Hendricks:

One of them is to create, this is probably the first one I’d recommend, is what I call create luck-worthy goals. And what I mean by that is a goal that, if you were tremendously lucky, that’s what you’d have. And so create something that pulls the passion out of you and makes you luck worthy.

Caneel Joyce:

Makes you luck worthy. How does that happen? How does it work?

Gay Hendricks:

Well first of all, all conscious change starts with a new commitment. And so as I talk about in the book, I take you through a process in the book of making a commitment to being lucky.

Caneel Joyce:

Okay, pause, lots of big stuff there.

Gay Hendricks:

Yes.

Caneel Joyce:

I want to reiterate it. All conscious change begins with a new commitment.

Gay Hendricks:

With a new conscious commitment, you see, because in the past most of us have been run by unconscious commitment like an unconscious commitment to get even with somebody or an unconscious commitment to get their approval or something that gets in the way of your clear, conscious commitment that’s going to bring you maximum success. Yeah, and so I recommend that people begin with a simple commitment. We can do it right now. I commit from here on out to be luckier. I make a commitment, a conscious commitment to being lucky, just that 10-second miracle moment of when you make a commitment to something.

Caneel Joyce:

Wow, Gay, I feel my fear rising as I think I’m going to make this commitment. Let me say it right now. I make a conscious commitment to being lucky.

Gay Hendricks:

Good, make it even simpler. I commit to being lucky all the time.

Caneel Joyce:

I commit to being lucky all the time. Holy moly, I am scared.

Gay Hendricks:

Okay, take a big breath.

Caneel Joyce:

I feel myself getting fearful right now.

Gay Hendricks:

Fear is something you just have to welcome.

Caneel Joyce:

All right, come on in, baby. Come in, fear.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, come on.

Caneel Joyce:

I feel it. I do feel it everywhere.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, fear is like … Tell your son about the Swamp Thing comic. I don’t know if he’s read Swamp Thing comics yet, but Swamp thing is this creature that emerges from the swamp and smells fear and comes out. And if you’re scared, it gets bigger and bigger. But if you just kind of shake it off, he recedes into the swamp again.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s going to be the biggest gift to him every, good intuition, good intuition. I want to unpack it a little bit, because this is fascinating. As I imagine myself being super lucky, the thought I have is, it’s like so textbook. My thought is, don’t I have to do something to deserve all of that luck? So there I go right back to the beginning.

Gay Hendricks:

So here’s the key moment, Caneel. Take a moment right now to love that part of you that doesn’t feel like you deserve it. Just love it like you love your little boy. You know for sure you love him, so love yourself exactly the same way, that part of you that doesn’t feel worthy. See, that’s the number one fear. Yeah, the number one fear we have to get out from under is that feeling of unworthiness. Yeah, so I want to take you through the last part.

Caneel Joyce:

Great.

Gay Hendricks:

Here’s the last sentence I want you to say. Now I want you to put your name into it. I, Caneel, commit to being lucky all the time.

Caneel Joyce:

I, Caneel, commit to being lucky all the time.

Gay Hendricks:

I love it, well I’d like to know … Keep in touch. I’ll come back and talk to you when the book comes out, and I want to hear between now and then what you’ve done and what’s happened to you that comes out of the luck commitment that you just made. You’re already pretty lucky. You’re already extremely lucky, but see, it’s that last 10% of being lucky where you really get the good stuff.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah, it’s a big difference. I do have a lucky friend. He is the one that always … He goes straight for the front of a really busy restaurant or concert venue, and he finds a parking spot right in front. He doesn’t waste his time. And I see how he creates it. He doesn’t waste his time circling all around. He just goes straight there, and he looks for a spot right there. My husband started doing it. It works for him too. It’s a game changer. And Gay, we’re heading toward the close of our conversation today, which has been so amazing. But there’s one thing I really would love to discuss with you. On this show, we’ve talked a lot about zone of genius. This is one of my favorite concepts and one that I’ve found to be most transformational. Whether you understand all of the rest of conscious leadership or if it’s the first thing that you learn about this work of consciousness, but on our last conversation you told me about how your thinking on this has really evolved and that it’s moved from being a zone to a spiral of genius. Can you tell us a little bit about that concept?

Gay Hendricks:

Do you remember how I said the Milky Way is expanding out in a spiral?

Caneel Joyce:

Mm-hmm.

Gay Hendricks:

Well I used to call it the zone of genius, and I don’t call it the zone of genius anymore. I call it the genius spiral, because once you tap into what you’re really supposed to be doing here on this planet, once you really access what you truly love to do, that’s what I call your innate genius, your natural genius. So as you discover more of what you most love to do and start doing it out there in the world, you enter what I call the genius spiral. And the beauty of the genius spiral is it’s completely open ended, and it doesn’t stop. The more you keep expanding into it, like I have now published two mystery series, one with a Tibetan Buddhist private eye that’s gone through six books and one with a Victorian era aristocrat named Sir Errol Hyde, who’s been through three books. I’ve been through three books so in other words, almost 10 mystery novels I’ve published. And I didn’t start writing mystery novels until I was 65 years old.

Caneel Joyce:

Wow.

Gay Hendricks:

Yeah, so it’s never too late to engage your genius spiral. It begins with commitment, though, exactly, just the same thing I was talking about before. Every conscious change begins with commitment, a conscious commitment that brings into mind what you most want. So for example, with me this moment, anyone can make a commitment, all of your listeners. I commit to discovering my genius and learning how to express it in the world to my and others’ benefit. I commit to discovering my genius and learning how to express it in the world to my benefit and others’ benefit too. That’s a beautiful new commitment to make, because that’ll take you a long way. I made it myself 30-some years ago, when I was only using 10% of my time to do my genius work in. Now I spend 90% of my time doing my genius work and the other 10% of my time sleeping or getting around from place to place.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s wonderful. This concept really changed my life. We’ve got a few episodes that talk about zone of genius. I have a webinar where we talk about the genius way of being and how you can restore yourself in a genius manner. And I’m really loving this spiral concept. It makes so much sense to me, because it does keep evolving, keep changing, and that’s the path, actually, it’s not one thing. I love this concept. I’m so excited that we got to have you on the show today. I really appreciate your time, your genius, and it’s been so fun to just spitball some ideas around together. So really from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. This was a real dream come true for me.

Gay Hendricks:

Thank you, well many blessings to you and your work. I really enjoyed our conversation, and again, I hope we can converse again some time in the future.

Caneel Joyce:

Wonderful, and I understand that you have a resource of some kind that we can point to from our show notes.

Gay Hendricks:

Well I wanted to share a couple of things. Since we’ve talked about the genius spiral, we didn’t talk about this before, but I wonder, would you like a graphic of the genius spiral that you could show people?

Caneel Joyce:

Yes.

Gay Hendricks:

And also I want to have people see our openness-to-learning scale. We use it mostly with our corporate work, but anybody could use it. It doesn’t matter. You could even use it in a high school or any place like that.

Caneel Joyce:

Cool. When does your book come out?

Gay Hendricks:

May 12th.

Caneel Joyce:

May 12th, I’m presuming we can pre-order on Amazon.

Gay Hendricks:

Absolutely, you can go to ConsciousLuck.com. That’ll show you all the different bookstores you can pre-order from.

Caneel Joyce:

ConsciousLuck.com, heading there next. Thank you so much, Gay. Have a wonderful afternoon. Enjoy the rain.

Gay Hendricks:

Thank you very much, Caneel.

Caneel Joyce:

And listeners, don’t forget, everything that we are discussing today in addition to links to the video of this interview being recorded, the transcript, tons of downloadable tools and the specific areas and resources that we reference today, all of that is available at Caneel.com/podcast.

 

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