Ep 71| The Upper Limit Problem: What’s holding you back from more of Everything!

By Kim Strobel

March 23, 2022

Gay Hendricks wrote this amazing book called “The Big Leap”. In it, he explains that as humans we all have what he calls an “Upper Limit Problem.”

Basically, we have an internal thermostat in our body that says, “I have limited tolerance, for feeling good in my life, I have limited tolerance for how much happiness, I am willing to let myself feel how much love, I'm willing to let myself feel how much success, I'm willing to let myself feel.”  Because of our Upper Limit Problem,  when things are going good for us, we will self sabotage our ability to all the goodness we want to feel in our life. 

He explained that  have limited tolerance for allowing our life to go well, for a period of time. And when we hit that internal thermostat of being able to feel good or feel success, we do something that stops our positive forward trajectory.  The good news….we can change our internal thermostats and reset them to higher levels of success.

What’s in the episode: 

  • What is the Upper Limited Problem and how does it show up in our lives?

  • The ways we self-sabotage and why do we do it. 

  • The four zones of work identified by Gay Hendricks

  • The zone of incompetence: In this zone, you are engaging in something you are simply not good at. This is me trying to dance in the ballet.

  • The zone of competence: You can get the job done, but no better than the next person.

  • The zone of excellence: In this zone, you are doing something you are very, very good at compared to most other people.

  • The zone of genius: When you’re in your genius zone, are in what author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” You’re taking advantage of your natural talents and doing what you earnestly enjoy. You have what could almost be called an “unfair advantage” over your competition.

Our internal thermostat setting determines how much love success, creativity, happiness, well-being we allow in our life.”  Kim Strobel

If you enjoy this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about it and know your biggest takeaway. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram Stories and tag me, @kimstrobeljoy.

I would also love if you subscribed to the podcast and left a review at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/she-finds-joy/id1487739752 

Kim’s Happy Academy Waitlist!

If you’re tired of putting yourself on the back-burner and ready to learn powerful strategies for increasing your happiness levels and reclaiming your life, you might want to grab a spot on the Happy Academy Waitlist. Over 17,000 people signed up for this 10-month program last year, so you are gonna want to be one of the first to know when we open the doors! Get on the waitlist here

About Kim

Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy!

You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy and in the free private She Finds Joy Facebook community.


Kim Strobel 00:04 

Hello, my friends, I am joining you today I'm at in my office, I'm not traveling. I've got three dogs surrounding me ones over in my meditation chair. Once in the window, she has a window seat now that I made her and she watches squirrels all day. And the other just did a big sigh down by my feet. Sophie rose, she's laying beside my feet taking her afternoon nap. Meanwhile, I'm over here, freaking making the money and taking care of these pups. Wow, what would it be like to be a dog? You know why they why did they say like, I'm working like a dog. My dogs do nothing all day I financially provide for them. I do the chores around the house, I do everything. I don't know where that statement came from. But anyway, I want to say hi, today before I start to our international people, I see you I get to pull up this map that shows me like, hey, 14 people from Germany are listening. 72 people from the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia. And I get some fascinated by that. I'm like these people find me. And so I want to get a shout out to all the international folks who are tuning in every two weeks for an episode of she finds joy. I want to tell you a little bit about something that I've been working on. So as most of you know, and maybe we even have a commercial on this podcast, I'm not even sure. But as most of you know, I have created something called the happy Academy. And it was kind of my brainchild from COVID. And I wanted to create a well being program. And not that all of you are educators but I specifically wanted to create a wellbeing program for schools, for teachers, for school leaders, so that we could maintain their well being throughout the school year. Because when I think back to when I was a teacher, I will tell you that it's like I was I allowed myself to relax in June. But then come July, I would feel the anxiety building about, oh my gosh, I've got to you know, go back to school. And somehow I've got to manage this house and cook these meals and cart these children and do all of this while having this very demanding teaching career. And I would do crazy stuff like I would go to Walmart at the time and buy, I don't know, 40 pounds of ground beef. And I would start frying it up and putting it in baggies and putting it in the freezer. So that come August, if I wanted to fix spaghetti, I could pull out the ground beef. Or if I wanted to fix tacos, I could pull out the ground beef. And so, you know, I felt like once the school year started, all the stress came. And so we created the happy Academy, which is this nine month program that takes schools and their employees through nine pivotal shifts that they can make in their life so that they can reclaim their happiness within their profession, but also outside of their profession. And I will tell you, we had 17 schools go through it last year 17 schools, it was amazing. And I'm sure at this point, if

you're interested, you could probably go to our website under Programs and pull up happy Academy. But I gotta tell you, since in the last two months, well, I take it back at the end of 2021, I started having this idea that I needed something that was specifically for school leaders. I feel like school leaders are kind of like the principals and assistant principals, the curriculum directors, they're kind of like the middle child, right? It's like we give and I'm sorry, if you're not a teacher, this episode is starting out to be about teachers, but I promise you it's it's going to evolve. And it's not going to be just about teachers here today. But hang with me for a minute because I I think that school leaders in particular, are like the middle child, because we talk a lot about teacher burnout, we talk a lot about teachers not getting the pay they deserve and the hours they put in. And then we talk a lot about superintendents and what they're enduring with the public and, and parents and the school boards and, you know, critical race theory and all the things that are coming at them. But the principals and assistant principals, sometimes I feel like they're not really getting the support that they need. And so I had had this idea last year about creating a Leadership Academy, which would be basically like the happy Academy, but it would be specifically for school leaders. But then I was like, Oh my gosh, Kim, you don't have the time to create one more thing, like you're gonna have to put this on the back burner. But in the last three weeks, I've had three schools and organizations reach out to me and say my principals and assistant principals and curriculum directors and people in administration need the Leadership Academy, so I'm just letting y'all know No, I'm bringing that baby to the forefront. And I'm going to start creating it right now. Because sometimes, that's what we have to do, right? Like the universe keeps popping stuff in our life, and we can push and push and push back against it. But at some point, you got to go, Hey, I gotta listen to these whispers, I'm gonna have to make a move on this. So that's just a little update about what I'm working on over here in the struggle, Education Office. Now, let's get to today's actual podcast content. I want to talk to all of you, not just educators, but all of you about this term that I used, that I learned about about five years ago. And Gay Hendricks wrote this amazing book called The Big Leap, and I'll put it in the show notes. And in that book, he talks about that we all have what's called an upper limit problem. And the upper limit problem basically means that all of us have an internal thermostat in our body that says, I have limited tolerance, for feeling good in my life, I have limited tolerance for how much happiness, I am willing to let myself feel how much love, I'm willing to let myself feel how much success, I'm willing to let myself feel. And I know that sounds crazy. But stick with me, because you're going to see that you too have an upper limit problem we all do. It's this idea that we when things are going good for us, we will actually self sabotage, we will actually create images, thoughts, that make us feel bad. And that this problem, as gay says is bigger than just your internal feelings. We seem to have limited tolerance for allowing our life to go well, for a period of time. And when we hit that internal thermostat of being able to feel good or feel success, what we will actually do is, we do something that stops our positive forward trajectory. Maybe we get into a fight on purpose without realizing it with our spouse, because we're only going to allow ourselves to feel so good. I know on today, during my team meeting, one of my team members were saying that she came from two parents who modeled a very bad marriage to her and divorce in different things. And she was saying that when she met her husband, she kept trying to break up with him, because it would get to going well, but she had been taught and ingrained that don't allow yourself to expect anything long term, because you'll probably just end up divorced anyway. And so even though she loved her future husband at the time, she kept sabotaging the relationship, because she had never learned to make herself vulnerable enough to receive greater love than what she was used to or what she had been modeled. And so thankfully, she said her, her boyfriend at the time would not allow her to keep doing this. And now she's 12 years in two kids and in a remarkable marriage because she was able to transform that. But we might get into a conflict with our spouse, or we might get into a money bind. Or we might do something else that brings us back down to our limited tolerance level. And gay He even talks

about this in his book, he says like as humans, we've grown accustomed to pain, and adversity, like through a ton of struggle, and we know how to feel bad. We in fact, have millions and millions of nerve connections that are supposed to register pain. And we have this body, right, this whole internal guidance system, even in our brain that is dedicated to feeling fear. Now obviously, we also have pleasure points in our brain pleasure points in our life. But what we know is that as humans, we struggle to let ourselves feel good, and go well for extended periods of time. And what we actually do is we will self sabotage. Let me give you a couple examples. In he talks about this in his book, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I'm not the only crazy person who does this. But there will be times where and I remember when my son was little, and I, he would be sleeping in his bed, and I'd look over him. And I'd be feeling this immense love for him like that, that I never knew I could feel this amount of love, this amount of joy, this amount of meaning in my life, like it just tears me up, even now thinking about it. And then all of a sudden, I would conjure up terrible images, like, I would imagine him in a car accident losing his life, or I would imagine him dying of cancer. And and I remember thinking, Am I crazy? Like, why am I doing this? Why am I forcing myself to think about this, but gay even talks about that in his book, he says that we are so afraid of having that what we that wish that we wish for? That we don't let ourselves get too comfortable with feeling good, because we're afraid we're going to lose it. And that was one example. Another example happened to be that I was year one into my business and oh my gosh, you guys. I mean, what a freakin leap of courage. It took me to leave my stable curriculum director's job where I got a nice paycheck every two weeks where I had my insurance paid for. And then I came up with this crazy idea that I thought I could empower teachers, that I could provide professional development for them. And I remember this voice inside me going by how are you going to do that? Kim, you don't really have any connections? How are people going to find out about you? Why are they going to want to hire you, you're putting your family's financial independence at risk by leaving the stable job and going into business for yourself. And then I did it, because my soul was bigger than my brain. And it just kept saying, you have to do this, you have to do this. And I will tell you that first year, it was crazy. Like, I couldn't believe how well it went. And the second year, it was even bigger, it was even better the income streams were double. And my husband and I had treated ourselves to an adult only vacation in Punta Cana at this beautiful resort. And it was May, and we were sitting by the beach. And we were in these comfortable lounge chairs, pine trees, drinks being delivered to us we were being waited on it was pure blissfulness. And I happen to be reading The Big Leap, this book that I've learned all this from. And what was funny is I was sitting in the lawn chair, and I was or the lounge chair. And I was thinking about all this amazing stuff around me like look at us. We could have never afforded to even take a vacation. There was one time when we took our kids to Myrtle Beach, and we barely had $900 to spend on the hotel for a week. And it was disgusting. It was like roach infested. But that's all we could afford. And so I was trying to just really be in my blessings of wow, look at what you've been able to do. Kim, look at this business. Look at this vacation. Look at this luxury, like take it all in. This is amazing. This is a special moment. And then I conjured up other negative images. I said things to myself, like it's all going to go away. Nobody starts out this good. Nobody starts out they say most businesses don't make money till year five, and you're making money in year one. In year two, something's off here. Something's gonna crash and burn. This is not going to continue, you're not gonna be able to sustain this. This was some kind of crazy luck. And at the time, I was reading this book, and I opened it up and read about the upper limit problem. And I was like, Oh my gosh, that's what I'm doing. I'm creating images because my internal thermostat system cannot handle the success that I'm experiencing. And so I'm conjuring up these images so that I don't let myself be disappointed. That is a biggie, my friends. I believe so much. In our ability to get rid of these limiting beliefs, in fact, I dedicate two modules of the happy Academy to teaching us how to do this so that we can experience more love more abundance, more happiness, more success, more everything in our life, when we

learn to overcome the upper limit problem, because what I want us to do is learn to free ourselves from these self imposed limitations, that keep us from our success in life, from being able to achieve more of what we want from our ability to be able to experience more of what we want. And we each have this internal thermostat setting. And that setting determines how much love success, creativity, happiness, well being, that we are allowing ourselves to feel. And when we exceed that inner thermostat setting, we often do things like we talked about earlier, to sabotage ourselves, that causes us to drop back in to those old, familiar thermostat, selling settings. And your thermostat setting basically was programmed in childhood, you know, before you could even think for yourselves. And what happened is, is that what that internal thermostat setting does, is it keeps you in what GAE calls the zone of competence. See, he talks about four different zones that we have, we have the zone of incompetence, which is those skills that we're not good at. And then we have the zone of competence, which are the skills we're good at, but we really despise doing. And then we have the zone of excellence, the things that we're really excellent at. But then he talks about that the ultimate goal is to get people to step into their zone of genius, which is that thing that they excel, that they are lit on fire about, that they are passionate about, that they are driven about, and that that we can get you into your zone of genius, we begin to shift every area of our lives. And so, when we're thinking about this, right, when we're thinking about how do we overcome our upper limit problem, we have to think about the beliefs that we're holding on to that are not allowing us to experience more of what we want. Let me give you an example. You know how they say that 80% of lottery winners are more broke five years after winning the lottery than they were before they won the lottery. Do you know why that is, because they don't have an internal thermostat that allows them to develop wealth consciousness that allows them to say, this is how I operate now in the world. Instead, their fear of losing it, or their uncomfortableness with this new level of money, makes them self sabotage by spending it or losing it all they wrote, literally self sabotage, and be worse off five years later than when they won the lottery. And again, we do this in many areas of our life. But what we can do is we can flip the switch, we can create a new internal thermostat setting, so that when you experience more love, more happiness, more money, more wealth, more health, whatever it is, that you have the internal infrastructure that supports you being able to have that as your new normal in life. And I may talk more about this on future episodes. But I will tell you that each and every one of us have that ability to flip the switch on the internal blueprint of how much goodness we're willing to receive in our life. And I want that for each and every one of us and I would love you to just ponder and think about is there an internal thermostat setting inside of me? That is preventing me from experiencing more? And do I self sabotage sometimes even subconscious? Without realizing it because I'm afraid to let myself feel that good

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