Why Is It Called the #5SecondRule?I get this question a lot. And I wish I had a better answer. I called it the“#5SecondRule” because that’s the first thing that popped into my mind themorning I first used it, and this nam stuck. Remember, I had seen a rocket launchthe night before and thought to myself, “I’ll just launch myself out of bed—like arocket!” The next morning, I counted backwards 5- 4- 3- 2- 1—because that’s whatNASA does when it launches a spaceship. I started with 5 for no particular reasonother than it felt like the right amount of time to give myself.I’ve come to learn that there are a lot of other “5 second rules” in the world,like the one about eating food off the floor, the five-second shot clock inbasketball, the game Ellen DeGeneres plays on her talk show, and the five-secondtest you can do to see if a sidewalk’s surface is too hot for your dog to walk on.Had I known my Rule would spread around the world, I might have come upwith a more original name. But in hindsight, all these #5SecondRules havesomething in common. They require you to physically move within a five-secondwindow.Physical movement is the most important part of my Rule, too, because whenyou move your physiology changes and your mind follows. Perhaps the name is notonly apropos—it’s actually perfect because it references other five-second windowsin life, and that makes the Rule feel that much more familiar, universal, and true.The Rule Sounds Like Nike’s Tagline “Just Do It”…The difference between “Just Do It” and the #5SecondRule is simple. “Just DoIt” is a concept—it’s what you need to do. The #5SecondRule is a tool—it’s how youmake yourself do it.
There’s a reason why “Just Do It” is the most famous tagline in the world andresonates across all cultures. Do you know what makes the tagline so powerful? It’sthe word “JUST.”The word JUST is in there because Nike recognizes something we’ve talked alot about in this book—right before we act, we first stop and think. “Just Do It”acknowledges that we’re all struggling to push ourselves to be better and do better.We all hesitate and wrestle with our feelings before we jump in. The word JUSTtells us that we’re not alone. Every single one of us has these small hesitations.It’s the moment right before you ask to join the pick-up game that’s alreadyunderway, the moment you contemplate whether to do a third set of reps, or whenyou start to question whether you’ll head out the door for a run in the pouring rain.The tagline acknowledges that you have excuses and fears and Nike isencouraging you to be bigger than them. Come on…don’t think about it…JUST DOIT. I know you’re tired…JUST DO IT. I know you are afraid…JUST DO IT.Nike’s tagline is pushing you to move past that doubt and get in the game. Nikeknows that there’s greatness inside of you, and it’s on the other side of yourexcuses. It resonates profoundly because every single one of us, even an Olympicathlete, needs a PUSH. And that’s where the #5SecondRule comes in; the Rule ishow you push yourself when no coach, competitor, parent, screaming fan, orteammate is there to push you. With the Rule, you just 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to pushyourself.Is There a Five-Second Window of Opportunity forEveryone?Yes. There is a window for everyone between the moment you have an instinctto change and your mind killing that instinct. While your mind starts working
against you in nanoseconds, the barrage of thoughts and excuses don’t seem to kickinto full force and stop you for a few seconds. The five-second window seems towork for everyone.That said, by all means play around with it to make it work for you. Personally, Inotice that the longer I wait between my initial impulse to act and physicallymoving, the louder that the excuses get, and the harder it becomes to force myselfto move. As Angela found, those five-second decisions “turned into 50 seconds andthen 500 seconds when the fear was deeper.” She now treats the #5SecondRule asif her brain will “self-destruct” at zero:If it works for you to shorten or lengthen the window, personalize the Rule tomake it work for you.Matt, a good friend of my husband and myself, was training for his first ToughMudder race. He lives in New Jersey and he sent this text to my husband during thefreezing cold winter. He had shrunk the window to three seconds because henoticed how fast his mind would go to work to stop him.“Tell your girlfriend Mel that the 5 second rule is working over here. I have it down to three seconds. Why contemplatelife’s complexities when you can be moving ahead after just 3 seconds. In 5 seconds I can make up at least 2 excuses in mymind. In three seconds my mind has already pushed the first button on my phone to move the ball ahead. As I awoke thismorning I mistakenly checked the thermometer (that took 2 seconds, but in that third second I started to put on my rightsneaker.”
That is how the system in your brain works—the longer that you think aboutsomething, the lower your urge to act becomes. We are amazing at fooling ourselvesinto staying exactly where we are. As soon as that impulse to act kicks in, you startrationalizing it away. That’s why you’ve got to move faster—so you can break freeof your excuses before your mind traps you.What Can I Use It For?Over the years, we’ve heard thousands of examples of how people are usingthe Rule to improve their life, relationships, happiness, and work. But every examplefalls into one of three distinct categories for how you can use it.• You Can Use It to Change Your BehaviorYou can use the Rule to push yourself to create new habits, pull yourself awayfrom destructive habits, and master the skills of self-monitoring and self-control sothat you can be more intentional and effective in your relationships with yourselfand others.• You Can Use It to Act with Everyday CourageYou can use the Rule to discover the courage you need to do things that arenew, scary, or uncertain. The Rule will quiet your self-doubt and build confidence asyou push yourself to pursue your passions, share your ideas at work, volunteer forprojects that stretch you, create your art, and become a better leader.• You Can Use It to Control Your MindYou can use the Rule to stop the barrage of negative thoughts and endlessworries that weigh you down. You can also break the habit of anxiety and beat anyfear. When you take control of your mind, you’ll be able to think about things that
bring you joy instead of focusing on the negative. And that, in my opinion, is themost powerful way to use the Rule.Why Does Something So Simple Work?The Rule works because it is so simple. There are all kinds of tricky ways yourbrain kills your urge to act. Some of my most favorite researchers, professors, andthinkers have written bestsellers and delivered epic TED Talks detailing how ourown minds betray us with a seemingly endless list of tricks including cognitivebiases, the paradox of choice, the psychological immune system, and the spotlighteffect. What all these great researchers have taught me is that the moment you wantto change, break a habit, or do something hard or scary, your brain goes to work tostop you.Basically, your mind tricks you into thinking things through. And the momentyou get tricked into doing this, you’ll get trapped by your thoughts. Your mind has amillion ways to talk you out of acting. That’s the neurological reason why it’s sohard to change. As I mentioned in Chapter One, change requires you to do thingsthat are uncertain, scary, or new. Your brain, by design, will not let you do suchthings. Your brain is afraid of things that feel uncertain, scary, or new, so it will dowhatever it can to talk you out of doing those things. It is part of your hard-wiring,and this hesitation happens really fast. That is why you have to act even faster tobeat it.The Rule leverages and is an example of some powerful and proven principlesin modern psychology: a bias toward action, internal locus of control, behavioralflexibility, the progress principle, starting rituals, the Golden Rule of Habits,authentic pride, deliberate action, “If-Then planning,” and activation energy.Throughout this book, you’ll learn more about these principles as we go intogreater detail about how you can use the Rule in specific areas of your life.
How Can One Rule Work On So Many Areas of MyLife?The #5SecondRule actually only works on one thing—you. You stop yourselffrom changing the exact same way every single time—you hesitate, then youoverthink, and you lock yourself in mental jail.That moment of hesitation is a killer. Hesitation sends a stress signal to yourbrain. It’s a red flag that signals something’s wrong—and your brain is goes intoprotection mode. This is how we are wired to fail. Think about this for a minute.You don’t hesitate all time. For example, you don’t hesitate when you pour a cupof coffee in the morning. You don’t hesitate when you put on your jeans. You don’thesitate when you turn on the television. You don’t hesitate to call your best friend.You don’t think at all. You just have the instinct to call your friend, and you pick upthe phone, and you call them. But when you hesitate just before making a sales callor texting someone back, it makes your brain think that something must be wrong.The longer you think about that sales call, the less likely you’ll make it.Most of us don’t even realize how often we hesitate because we’ve done it sooften that it’s become a habit. Here’s how Tim described it after using the Rule:“Honestly, I think the Rule is powerful simply because keeping it on the tip of your thoughts allows you to process andstart on activities you would normally gloss over and ignore. I also keep saying, “What the hell, I’m leaning into this.” So,it is powerful because it helps you break the formally embedded thought patterns about doing things and allows (meanyway) to safely ‘go for it’. Seriously, why was I afraid of doing some of the things I am now doing? It was never likeanything I did or didn’t do was going to end the world.”But what you will soon learn is that moment of hesitation can also be used toyour advantage. Every time you catch yourself hesitating, it is a push moment! Thefive-second window is opened and it is time to 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to push yourselfforward and be bigger than your excuses.
Seeing the 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 countdown can serve as a vivid reminder of the Ruleand its importance. Art hung the numbers on his office wall to keep him motivatedand moving forward all day at work:Can the Rule Create Lasting Behavior Change Too?The Rule will beat the brain’s operating system to help you win the battle withresistance in the moment. But do you know what else? Over time, as you repeat theRule, you destroy that system all together. One thing most of us don’t realize is thatpatterns of thinking like worrying, self-doubt, and fear are all just habits—and yourepeat these thought patterns without even realizing it. If everything you do tosabotage your happiness is a habit, that means you can follow the latest research tobreak the habits of:WaitingDoubtingHolding backStaying silentFeeling insecureAvoidingWorryOverthinking
There is a “Golden Rule of Habits” and it is very simple: In order to changeany bad habit, you must replace the behavior pattern that you repeat. I will explainthis in detail in Part 4 of the book. I’ll teach you how to end the mental habits ofworrying, anxiety, panic, and fear using the #5SecondRule in combination with allthe latest research.For now, what you need to know is this—the #5SecondRule and its countdowntrick, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1- GO, will become your new behavior pattern. Instead of holdingback, you’ll 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to push forward. The countdown is also what researcherscall a “starting ritual.” Starting rituals interrupt your bad default patterns and triggernew, positive patterns.If you master the Rule you will reprogram your mind. You will teach yourselfnew behavior patterns. Instead of defaulting to worry, hesitation, and fear, you willfind yourself automatically acting with courage. Over time, as you take more andmore steps forward, you’ll discover something else—real confidence and pride inyourself. The authentic kind that comes when you honor your goals and accomplishsmall wins that are important to you.Everything that you think might be set in stone, including your habits, mindset,and personality are flexible. The implications of this for your life are absolutelythrilling. You can change your “default” mental settings and your habits one five-second decision at a time. Those small decisions add up to major changes in whoyou are, what you feel, and how you live.Change your decisions and you’ll change your life. And what will change yourdecisions more than anything? Courage.
If you have the courage to start,you have the courage to succeed.
PART2THE POWER OF COURAGE
BCHAPTER FIVEEVERYDAY COURAGEefore I discovered the #5SecondRule, if you had asked me to give youexamples of courage, I would have given you a list of history makers. I wouldnever have said that courage is what it takes some days to get out of bed, speak toyour boss, pick up the phone, or step on a scale. I would have told you that courageis a word used to describe acts of huge bravery.Courageous people, in my view, were the Nobel Prize winners Malala Yousafzai,Leymah Gbowee, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, and ElieWiesel. I would have thought about Winston Churchill and Britain standing up tofight against Nazi Germany, Rosa Parks standing up for her right to keep her seat
on the bus, and Muhammad Ali steadfast in his religious beliefs and refusing tofight in Vietnam. I would have been reminded of Helen Keller, who triumphedover her own disabilities to advance the rights of others; of Sir Ernest Shackleton,who overcame shocking odds to rescue the crew of the Endurance; or of Galileo,who challenged the Orthodox Church to advance science.But after using the Rule for seven years and hearing from so many peoplearound the world, I have learned a very important certainty: Everyday life is full ofmoments that are scary, uncertain, and difficult. Facing these moments andunlocking the opportunity, magic, and joy in your life requires tremendous courage.Courage is precisely what the #5SecondRule gives you. The Rule gave Jose thecourage to believe in his value and ask for a raise.
Once he asked for one and got it, and there was a surprise waiting in his nextpaycheck—a bigger one.
The Rule gave Bryce the courage to put two years into writing and publishing acookbook. And he didn’t stop there. He got Barnes and Noble to host a booksigning. As Bryce puts it, “you can achieve anything that you are passionate aboutand are willing to work for.”
What’s even cooler? Bryce was only 15 at the time!The Rule helped Martin push through nine years of “one excuse after another”and slamming “on those brakes hard” to go back to school and pursue a secondmaster’s degree that will give him a more fulfilling career.Juanita learned to listen to her inner wisdom. Instead of “thinking” about a jobsearch and a company her friend recommended, she picked up the phone and called“right now”—and guess what she got? Exactly what she pushed herself to go andget—a dream job.
Learning about the #5SecondRule was a turning point for Gabe. After realizing“that I was responsible for everything that happened in my life,” Gabe used theRule to change his life by starting his own Virtual Reality company. Today, he iscreating the career of his dreams.
Kristin’s life has been forever changed because her boyfriend now has a way tobattle his drug addiction. Whenever he feels the desire to go “back to one of thosedrugs,” he uses the #5SecondRule to fight his addiction and retrain his mind. Hecounts backwards 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to himself to trigger new behavior and “his mindsetcompletely changes and he goes about his day.”Courage is, in fact, what I needed to get out of bed. It was scary to get out ofbed because it meant facing my problems. It was difficult to look myself in themirror and accept the fact that I was 41 years old and my life and career were inpretty lousy shape. It was overwhelming to consider I might not be able to fix thesituation my husband and I were in.Courage is what my daughter needs to put down the pen in her high schoolhistory class and raise her hand. It’s what your team needs to escalate its concernsto you and it’s what your kids need to tell you what’s really going on. Putting your
online profile up on a dating site or blocking your ex on your phone can feel like anact of bravery. So can adopting new technology for your business or walking in thedoor of your home and facing your problems head-on instead of pouring a drinkand zoning out in front of the TV.As I began to write this book and started collecting stories of people aroundthe world using the Rule, it became clear that inside every decision there exist fiveseconds of courage that can change everything in our lives.The more the word “courage” came up, the more I began to wonder if therewas something about one of the most historic moments of courage that wouldhelp me better understand the nature of courage itself. The first person that cameto mind was Rosa Parks. You probably know the story of how Rosa Parks sparkedthe modern American Civil Rights Movement on a chilly December evening in1955 when she quietly refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white passenger.Her moment of courage teaches us all that it’s not the big moves that changeeverything—it’s the smallest ones in your everyday life that do. She didn’t plan to dowhat she did that night. Mrs. Parks described herself as the kind of person whotried to “be as careful as possible to stay out of trouble.” The only thing sheplanned on doing that evening was to get home after a long day at work and havedinner with her husband. It was just an evening, like any other evening—until onedecision changed everything.Curious, I dug in and researched everything I could find about Mrs. Parks, fromthe National Archives, biographies, radio interviews, and newspaper articles. What Ifound is incredible. Just weeks after her arrest, she gave a radio interview to SidneyRogers on Pacifica Radio and the National Archives website has a recording of it.Here’s how she described that historic moment in her own words:As the bus proceeded out of town on the third stop, the white passengers had filled the front of the bus. When I got on thebus, the rear was filled with colored passengers, and they were beginning to stand. The seat I occupied was the first of the
seats where the Negro passengers, uh, take as they—on this route. The driver noted that the front of the bus was filledwith white passengers, and there would be two or three men standing.He looked back and…demanded the seats that we were occupying. The other passengers very reluctantly gave up theirseats. But I refused to do so…The driver said that if I refused to leave the seat, he would have to call the police. And Itold him, “Just call the police.”Then the radio interviewer asked her the million-dollar question:“What in the world ever made you decide to be the person who after all these years of Jim Crowe and segregation, whatmade you at that particular moment decide you were going to keep that seat?”She replied very simply,“I felt that I was not being treated right and that I had a right to retain the seat that I had taken as a passenger on thatbus.”He pressed her again noting that she had been mistreated for years, and wantedto know what made her decide in that moment—and in the interview, she paused for asecond and then said:“The time had just come that I had been pushed as far as I stand to be pushed, I suppose.”He asked her if she planned it—and she said,“No.”He asked her if it just sort of happened. She agreed that it “just sort ofhappened.”This is a critical detail: Rosa Parks didn’t hesitate or think it through. It happened sofast, she just listened to her instincts telling her “I was not being treated right,” and shepushed herself to follow them.Since she didn’t hesitate, there was no time to talk herself out of it.Coincidentally, four days later, in that same city of Montgomery, Alabama, onDecember 5, 1955, there was another five-second decision that changed history.
The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed in response to Mrs. Parks’arrest and a 26-year-old black preacher was voted by his peers to lead the 381-daybus boycott that ensued. On being nominated to lead the boycott that night, theyoung preacher would later write:“It happened so quickly that I did not have time to think it through. It is probable that if I had, I would have declinedthe nomination.”Thank goodness he didn’t think it through. He would become one of thegreatest civil rights leaders of all time. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Dr. King was pushed into the spotlight by his peers. Rosa pushed herself. Theyboth experienced the power of a push. It’s a moment when your instincts, values,and goals align, and you move so quickly you don’t have time or a valid reason tostop yourself.Your heart speaks and you don’t think, you listen to what your heart tells you todo. Greatness is not a personality trait. It’s inside all of us and sometimes it’s hardfor us to see it. Mrs. Parks was described by all who knew her as quiet and shy, andDr. King famously struggled with self-doubt and fear in the beginning days of theCivil Rights movement.Reflecting back on the radio that night in 1956, Mrs. Parks said, “I hadn’t thoughtI would be the person to do this, it hadn’t occurred to me.” It probably hasn’t occurred toyou either what great things you might be capable of achieving at work and in yourlifetime. Her example shows us that we are all more than capable of finding thecourage to “act out of character” when the moment matters.It is true, as Rosa Parks explained on air in that 1956 interview, that she waspushed “as far as I could stand to be pushed” by a system of discrimination. But in thatsingular moment, she was pushed forward by something way more powerful:herself.
That’s what courage is. It’s a push. The kind of push we give ourselves when westand up, speak up, show up, go first, raise our hand or do whatever feels hard,scary, or uncertain. Do not look at our heroes in history, business, art, and musicand assume that somehow they are different than you. It’s not true.Courage is a birthright. It is inside each and every one of us. You wereborn with it and you can tap into it anytime you want. It’s not a matter ofconfidence, education, status, personality, or profession. It’s simply a matter ofknowing how to find it when you need it. And when you need it, you’ll probably bealone.It’s going to be just you sitting in a meeting at work, standing in your kitchen,riding the subway, looking at your phone, staring at your computer, or thinkingabout something—and all of sudden, it will happen. Something will go down, andyour instincts will come alive. You’ll have an urge to act. Your values and yourinstincts will tell you what you should do. And your feelings will scream “NO.” Thatis the push moment. You don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to makea decision in the next five seconds.Dan is alone at his computer thinking about registering for summer classes. Hewants to earn his college degree but at the age of 44, the idea of starting as afreshman is nothing short of terrifying.Courage is what Christine needs as she’s sitting in a marketing meeting in Plano,Texas. She has a great idea to share but wonders, Is this going to sound stupid?Tom is standing in a bar in Chicago. The moment he sees her he can’t lookaway. He can either turn back toward his friends and pretend to care about thefootball game they’re discussing, or find the courage to start walking toward her.The entire sales organization of a financial software company feels discouragedin Nashville. They’ve hit their numbers three years in a row, and quotas just got
raised yet again.Alice in England needs to push herself out the door to go on a run. She’sinspired by her friend on Facebook, but feels discouraged by how long it’s been sinceshe last exercised.Halfway around the world, Patel can’t stop thinking about a friend whose sonjust died in a car accident. He doesn’t know what to say, and the thought of losinghis own son terrifies him. He tells himself, It will be easier if I wait a few days, but theurge to pick up the phone, stop by the house…to do something lingers.In China, Sy has just signed on as a distributor for a new skin care line. She hasat least a dozen people she wants to call. She looks at her phone and hesitates—what if they think I’m being pushy?In Queensland, Australia, Todd knows exactly what he wants to do with his life,and it isn’t studying law, it’s physical education. But before Todd can take control ofhis future, he’ll need to face his parents’ disappointment.And Mark is lying in bed in Auckland, Australia, where it’s 10:30 p.m. He turnsand looks at his wife as she reads her book. He would love to make love to her, buthe assumes she’s not in the mood; he wants to lean over and kiss her shoulder buthe fears rejection. He needs courage to lean toward her after so many months offeeling like her roommate.These stories are real and they are just the tip of the iceberg. They highlight thestruggle between our desire to change our lives and our fear of it. They also revealthe power that everyday courage has to transform everything.Seth Godin once wrote “a different part of our brains is activated when wethink about what’s possible rather than what’s required.” I believe the same is truewhen we think about being courageous, rather than focusing on the fears that stop
us. It’s the difference between focusing on the solution rather than the problem,and that tiny switch is mentally liberating.There’s something powerful about framing my struggle to get out of bed,Patel’s struggle to call his friend, a sales organization’s struggle to embrace a highersales goal, and Alice’s struggle to exercise as acts of everyday courage.After all, courage is just a push.When you push yourself, you may not change the world, the laws, or spark acivil rights movement but I can guarantee you’ll change something equally asimportant—you’ll change yourself.
There is only one YOU.And there will never be anotherone.That’s your power.
TCHAPTER SIXWHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?om is celebrating a new piece of business with his colleagues at Stetson’sSteakhouse inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago. He iscrushing his quota for the year and the win today will put the territory he managesahead on the leaderboard. Four months ago, he threw himself into his job at afinancial tech company after his wife moved out. It’s been a welcome distraction ashe tries to pick up the pieces of his personal life. He turns toward the bartender toorder another round, and that’s when he sees her.She’s standing just across the bar, laughing with her friends. There’s somethingabout her. He can’t quite put his finger on it. He thinks about walking over andtalking to her, but he hesitates. He starts to wonder if it’s too soon to put himselfout there. He begins to feel uncertain: Would a woman that hot go for a guy with two kids?Tom has a decision to make and he’ll make it in the next five seconds.
In the amount of time it takes to start walking across a bar, Tom could start torebuild his life. In the amount of time it takes to raise your hand in a meeting, youcan change how you are perceived at work. In the amount of time it takes to openyour mouth and compliment someone, you could brighten someone’s day. And ifyou don’t, the moment will pass, like it did for Blake and now she wants to “kickmyself.”Whatever reason you use to hold yourself back—you are wrong. It’s not saferto stay quiet. It’s not better to keep the peace. It’s not futile to try. It’s not risky. Youare wrong. All your excuses and reasons are wrong. There is no “right time” toimprove your life. The moment you move you’ll discover your strength. That’s theway to bring the REAL you to the table—by pushing the real you out of your headand into the world. And the best time to do it, is right now when your heart tellsyou to move.We waste so much of our lives waiting for the right time to have theconversation, ask for the raise, bring it up, or start things. It reminds me of that
famous Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Here’s thething—you never regret the shots you do take but you always regret holding back.Anthony realized this the hard way:Life is already hard, yet we make it so much harder when we listen to our fears,we convince ourselves to wait, and we hold our greatest selves back. We all do it.And not just in bars. We hold ourselves back at work, at home, and in ourrelationships.The question is, why do we do this? The answer is brutal. You can call it a fearof rejection, or a fear of failure, or a fear of looking bad. The reality is, we hidebecause we are afraid even to try.I had a conversation a few months ago with my daughter Kendall that illustratesjust how deadly this waiting game can be to your dreams. To give you somebackground, Kendall is fifteen and a very talented singer. From the moment shewakes up until the moment she goes to bed, she’s singing.Recently, one of her mentors recommended her for an audition with thedirectors of a musical in New York City. He had placed kids on tour with LesMisérables, Mary Poppins, and Matilda. He thought Kendall had a very good chanceof landing a role.
The second the topic came up, she said she “wanted to audition” but neverwrote her mentor back about it. I asked her why she was waiting. It was fascinatingand heartbreaking to hear how her thoughts and feelings had trapped her. Funnyenough, she wasn’t afraid of the audition itself. At least not when she thoughtabout it. It was everything that might happen after the audition.She said that she didn’t want to try out because, “What if I didn’t make it,Mom? What if I am not as good as I think I am? If I don’t audition, at least I cantell myself that I’m amazing—I’m just too lazy to have what I want.”Now we were getting somewhere. The fear of sucking, of not being goodenough, of feeling like a loser—none of us wants to face that reality. So we avoid itlike the plague. I actually do it with exercise. I can pretend I’m in decent shape aslong as I avoid it. The moment I hit the gym I have to face reality. And the reality isthat within two minutes of running on a treadmill, I have to go the bathroom andI’m out of breath. I’m not in great shape at all. I have a lot of work to do. That’swhy we dodge challenges—to protect our egos, even if it means eliminating thepossibility of getting what we want.I listened to Kendall talk about her fear that she wasn’t good enough, and thenasked her one simple question:“What If You’re Wrong?”It’s a powerful question, and we don’t ask it nearly enough. What if you’rewrong? What if you audition and you really are as good as everyone says? What ifyour idea actually is the next million-dollar business? What if you not only meetyour quota again this year, but you also actually surpass it? What if being single isn’tas scary as you think and your true soulmate is just days away from bumping intoyou? Are you really going to let your worries stop you from doing the work, havingthe love life, and being your greatest self? You damn well better not.
And even if you do suck—there’s another thing you can say to yourself:So What!?So what if you suck? At least you tried. As far as I’m concerned landing the roleis irrelevant. Just like the woman Tom saw at the bar is irrelevant. The only thingrelevant is you. The power is inside of you. The only way you access that power ispushing yourself to try. The greatest you shows up at the audition, walks up to thegal or guy at the bar, and raises their hand and their voice at work.You’ll never stop yourself from starting to worry about something. But you canstop yourself from letting those worries drag you into a parade of worries that takecontrol of your mind. You can assert yourself and push yourself to think aboutsomething empowering. You step back into the present moment and go for whatyou want. And you can do it in five seconds flat.We are all guilty of thinking about getting involved but not doing it. We’re allwaiting “for the right time.” It’s total stupidity. In a recent survey, 85% ofprofessional services employees admitted they were withholding critical feedbackfrom their bosses. Why? You already know the answer—they’re waiting for the“right time.” The same is true for your kids, your spouse, your friends, and yourcolleagues.All human beings are wired this way. One of the most insightful andenlightening aspects of Adam Grant’s incredible book Originals: How Non-ConformistsMove the World is when he describes how some our greatest heroes are just like us inthis simple regard: they hesitated, doubted themselves, and almost missed theopportunities of their lifetimes because they didn’t feel ready. I find it reassuring toknow that the people we admire most needed to be pushed through their fears,excuses, and feelings, just like you and me.
You know Michelangelo, the artist who painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome?There’s a backstory you might not know. According to Grant, when the Pope askedMichelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel in 1506, Michelangelo felt so overwhelmedwith self-doubt that he not only wanted to wait, but he also actually fled to Florenceand hid. The Pope had to stalk Michelangelo and pester him for two years to gethim to agree to paint it.Want to hear another one? How about one related to Apple? In 1977, when aninvestor offered Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak funding to launch Apple, Wozniakfelt so afraid and uncertain he wanted to “wait a while” before he quit his job. Hedidn’t feel ready. He was pushed by “Jobs, multiple friends, and his own parents” tomake the leap.Remember the stories in the last chapter about Dr. Martin Luther King Jradmitting he would have declined the nomination to lead the MontgomeryImprovement Association “had he thought it through”? Or Rosa Parks’ admissionthat she never thought “she would be the one to do this”? In the moment, neitherone of them stopped to think. They didn’t wait to feel ready. That’s what we all needto do. We are all capable of greatness. I believe that. It is our feelings and fears thatconvince us now is not the right time and keep us from achieving greatness.Grant then writes this line in his book, which made my heart feel heavy: “Wecan only imagine how many Wozniaks, Michelangelos, and Kings never pursued,publicized, or promoted their original ideas because they were not dragged orcatapulted into the spotlight.” The question to ask yourself is this one:What Are You Waiting For?Are you waiting for someone to ask you, drag you, pick you, or catapult youinto the spotlight, or are you willing to find the courage to push yourself? Are you
waiting to feel ready? Waiting for the right time. Waiting to gain confidence. Waitingto feel like it. Waiting to feel worthy. Waiting until you have more experience.Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance, or no time out. Stopwaiting. It’s now or never. When you wait, you aren’t procrastinating. You are doingsomething more dangerous. You are deliberately convincing yourself “now is notthe time.” You are actively working against your dreams.Paula could have convinced herself that she would “never qualify” for a greatjob opportunity. She would have been very wrong.I just applied for a job I never thought I would qualify for because I figured, “why not just try it?” I didn’t focus on myshortcomings but emphasized my qualities and got the job. Previously I would have forgotten about it after 5 seconds andnot even tried by the way ;–)–PaulaBy “emphasizing her qualities” instead of focusing on her shortcomings, Paulawas able to push past her fears and land the job.You may think you’re protecting yourself from judgment, rejection, or upsettingsomeone, but when you make excuses and talk yourself into waiting, you arelimiting your ability to make your dreams come true. I’m amazed by how much timeI’ve wasted in my life waiting for the right time, waiting until I’m sure, waiting untilI think my work is perfect, or waiting until I feel like it.You may be afraid of finding out that you suck, like my daughter was. Let metell you what really sucks: being older and regretting that you never went for it.Being 30 and realizing you let fear of what your friends thought keep you from everreally putting yourself out there when you were younger. Friends, by the way, whoyou never talk to anymore. Being 56 and realizing you should have divorced yourspouse ten years ago. Being 45 and wishing you had had the courage to take on aproject at work that you now realize would have changed the trajectory of your
career. Or sitting in college classes earning a degree to please your parents whenknowing in your heart that you want to be doing something else with your life.There is no right time. There is only right now. You get one life. This is it. Andit’s not going to begin again. It’s up to you to push yourself to make the most of itand the time to do it is right now.You Validate Your Ideas By Pursuing ThemIt’s heartbreaking to hear from so many of you with a creative idea or productconcept that are waiting for someone else to validate it. It’s so sad because waitingfor validation will be the death of your dreams. If you have an idea for a show or abook, and you are waiting for an executive at a TV network or a publishing houseto pick you, you will lose. It’s like Tom in the bar hoping his soulmate will just walkup to him and pick him. Or me waiting until I felt motivated to wake up and get outof bed. Waiting until you are ready will not make it happen. The world doesn’t workthat way.The world rewards those who are courageous enough to stop waiting and start.If you dream of being on television, I can tell you from first-hand experience thatthe TV executive you hope discovers you is actually on YouTube right now lookingfor someone who didn’t wait. The person who has the courage to start, create, andput themselves and their ideas out there is the one who will win.The only difference between that idea for a novel you want to write and Britishauthor E.L. James who wrote the blockbuster Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy (that wasdevoured by nearly every woman on the planet Earth and sold a million copies infour days) is the fact that she didn’t wait for permission, the right time, or to feelready. She didn’t wait until she had a book deal. In fact, she started writing eroticaon a Twilight-themed blog! She found the courage to start in small ways, and putherself out there over and over until she built the confidence to write a book. And
Fifty Shades of Gray was that book. It was self-published by a working mom whowrote in her free time. Yup.By the way, that’s also how Grammy award-winning musician Ed Sheeran gotdiscovered. He was 15 years old playing songs in a park in England with no permitand no guarantee that anyone would notice. That’s how you do it. You pushyourself to get out of your comfort zone and you begin. There is no other way.You stop waiting for “the right time” and you start. That’s how award-winningBroad City landed its hit show on Comedy Central. They acted with courage andstarted filming 3-minute clips on an iPhone and posting them on YouTube.And every single YouTube star, from Tyler Oakley, to make-up tutorial phenomMichelle Phan, to “My Drunk Kitchen” host Hannah Hart, to Minecraft narrator“Stampy Cat,” will tell you that if they had told themselves to wait until they feltready or until they had a sponsor, they would still be living a boring life insteadcreating a life of their dreams and laughing all the way to the bank.Waiting, thinking, and “almost doing it” don’t count. As Kyra explains, tochange anything you actually have to do it. #AlmostDoesntCountThe difference between people who make their dreams come true and those ofus who don’t is just one thing: the courage to start and the discipline to keep going.
The Rule is a game-changer because it 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 forces you to get out of yourhead and start and it’ll 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 help you keep going.And that brings us back to Tom at the bar in the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.Will he start walking toward the girl across the room or decide to wait? Well…thatdepends. It depends on who is making the decision for Tom. Will it be Tom’s heartthat makes the decision or his head? Will it be Tom’s dreams that win or will it behis fears? Rosa Parks offers some amazing advice for moments like this one—Tomneeds to do what “must be done.” Tom knows in his heart what must be done. Heneeds to start living again.Waiting won’t help. Waiting will only make it worse. When you sit with fear anduncertainty your mind makes it expand; it’s called “the spotlight effect” and it’s oneof the many tricks your brain plays in an attempt to keep you “safe.”The fear Tom feels is real. The uncertainty is scary. The self-doubt can becrippling. No one wants to be rejected or feel like a fool. No one wants to find outthat they “suck.”That’s why the moment right before you walk into a networking meeting, aparty, an interview, a cafeteria, or start walking toward someone you find attractive,it can feel daunting. We think about what could go wrong or how awkward it willfeel if no one welcomes us, instead of all the possibilities.But safety isn’t what Tom wants. Tom wants to rebuild his life and find loveagain and that’s going to take courage. As scary as it is taking that first step to theother side of the bar, Tom is about to discover that all the magic, wonder, and joyin life happens the moment he does.You can feel uncertain and be ready. You can be afraid and do it anyway. Youcan fear rejection and still go for it.
Five Seconds of Courage Changes EverythingTom starts counting to himself, “5- 4- 3-…” and by the time he gets to 2, hestarts walking across the room. He has no idea what he’ll say to her. His heart isracing, but for the first time in a long time he doesn’t feel numb, he feels alive. Thecloser he gets to her, the more his heart races. She turns around just as he reachesher. What happens next is…irrelevant.It doesn’t matter what happens because she either becomes his soulmate or shedoesn’t. The ending of the story is irrelevant—the only thing that matters is thebeginning of the story, that Tom made a choice to begin living again. That’s howyou listen to your heart. Whether you are starting to date again, starting a company,or starting a YouTube channel, you must find the courage to start.Notice how we desperately want an assurance that Tom “got the girl.” It makesfor a great movie plot, but “getting the girl” isn’t the point. Life isn’t a NicholasSparks novel. Life is gritty and hard and then suddenly it is brilliant and amazing.Besides, the girl could be engaged. She could be gay. She could be a real bitch. Evenif she’s amazing and they end up having crazy hot sex or go on to get married, “thegirl” is not the source of power in the story. Tom is.The treasure in your life is buried within you. It’s not inside of someone else.Tom is the source of power in his life and you are the source of power in yours.You unlock that power when you listen to your instincts and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 pushyourself to honor them. When you discover your “inner true self ” it will be the“most important gift of all.”
Jean-Baptiste also saw this. He wrote to me that he realized “that nobody wasgoing to come and get me to live the life that I want to live and that taking action isthe only way to create my own space into the world.”
Just as Jean-Baptiste said, I also “believe that everybody could bring somethingnew and original to the world we live in.” The potential for massive greatness existsinside every single one of us.The way that you activate the power of you is by finding the courage you needevery single day to push yourself forward. When you listen to your instincts (“get upand face the day, Mel,” “suck it up and start walking, Tom,” “take care of your nephews,Catherine,” “don’t give up your seat, Rosa”)—it’s clear what you must do.There is no debate when you follow what’s inside your heart. The only thingthat will quiet the chatter in your head is a decision to move. As I said in the verybeginning of the book, you really are just one decision away from a completelydifferent life.We are all so afraid of uncertainty that we want a guarantee before we even try.We want evidence that if we take a risk we will “get the girl” too. Even if Tom getsthe girl, it’s not proof that you will. “Getting the girl” or “the guy,” for that matter,is a numbers game. To play any game, you have to start. To win, you’ll need to keepgoing. If you want to make your dreams come true, get ready for the long game.Life is not a one-and-done sort of deal. You’ve got to work for what you want.Do you know the game Angry Birds? Rovio, the brand that created the game,launched 51 unsuccessful games before they developed Angry Birds. How aboutThe Avengers star Mark Ruffalo? Do you know how many auditions he did before helanded his first role? Almost 600! Even Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times. Myfavorite vacuum cleaner is a Dyson. And there’s no wonder why it doesn’t suck atsucking up the dirt. James Dyson created 5,127 prototypes! What? And this last onewill blow your mind. Picasso created nearly 100 masterpieces in his lifetime. Butwhat most people don’t know is that he created a total of more than 50,000 worksof art.
Did you see the last number? 50,000. That’s two pieces of art a day. Success is anumbers game. And you’re not going to win it if you keep telling yourself to wait.The more often that you choose courage, the more likely you’ll succeed.When you 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 push yourself forward you’ll discover the magic in yourlife and you open yourself up to the world, to opportunity, and to possibility. Youmight not get the girl, the part, or the response you wanted but that’s not the point.In the end, you’ll get something way cooler—you’ll discover the power inside ofyou.
Hold on. Let me over think aboutit.