Book Review: The 5 Second Rule

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For the August 2017 edition of the Indie Business Book Club, we read The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins. The book stands for the proposition that you can improve your life on a grand scale simply by counting down 5-4-3-2-1, and then taking action — without thinking about it. Really? OK. So …

I was skeptical when we started reading this book. A few times in the first chapter, this phrase appears: “when you act with your heart, your brain is not involved.” As I read that, I was reminded that each time I have acted with my heart, and left my brain out of the decision, I have regretted it. This fed my skepticism because I wanted so badly to think that my brain was capable of getting me through any difficult situation. Anything else is counterintuitive to me.

I was just not wanting buying the idea that ignoring my brain is ever a good strategy, and that simply counting down 5-4-3-2-1 was going to do any good. I forced myself to continue reading, however, because the book is filled with real testimonials of people who were not skeptical and they were getting results. My brain would not allow me to ignore that, so I kept reading. It was a struggle at first, but I'm glad I kept at it.

Because, I was wrong. Ignoring my brain when it comes to getting things done is a good idea. I am not training myself to do this, slowly but surely, and it's making a difference. It's not fast enough for my brain to be satisfied, but I do see progress and that makes me happy.

My Favorite Chapter

While it's hard to choose, I think my favorite chapter is one of the shortest in the book: Chapter 4: Why the Rule Works. I like this chapter because it's the one that turned me from a skeptic into a believer. Consider this:

… [T]he longer you think about something, the lower your urge to act becomes. We are amazing at fooling ourselves into staying exactly where we are. As soon as that impulse to act kicks in, you start rationalizing it away. That's why you've got to move faster — so you can break free of your excuses before your mind traps you.”

Here are additional parts of the book that resonated strongly with me, and that all entrepreneurs can learn from and relate to.

  1. You'll Never Feel Like It: Chapter 7

    Your feelings in the moment are almost never aligned with what's best for you. Instead of focusing on your feelings, you must learn how to separate what you feel from the actions that you need to take, and the big deal here is that you will never feel like doing that.

    If you're sitting around trying to reason with yourself about why you can push the snooze button or how you'll go to the gym later, or how one day of not flossing won't hurt anything, you are essentially slowly killing your potential and your future good life.

    The battle is never about your ability to do something. It's about how you feel about it. If you don't learn how to untangle your feelings from your actions, you'll never unlock your true potential.

  2. End Anxiety: Chapter 13

    I love this chapter's discussion of reframing anxiety into excitement or enthusiasm. Giving your mind an explanation for why you are anxious (you are enthusiastic, not nervous) empowers you rather than trips you up, and you are able to remain more in control as you move through any sort of anxiety producing experience.

    I do this all the time when I deliver any type of entrepreneurial training. I am always nervous, and sweaty, and I am also genuinely excited to teach my students. That excitement empowers me to dive in, but I have noticed that the jitters never really go away. The sweating never really stops until I am done, but the nervousness subsides as I move through my training. I'm thinking about how excited I am to help others by doing what I love, and there's no room anymore to dwell on nervousness.

  3. At the end of the day, you need to do more than think if you want to change your life.Click To Tweet

    Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule

  4. Pursuing Passion: Chapter 16

    You can use the 5 second rule to quit living for others and start living for yourself, especially where you vocation is concerned.

    This chapter reminds me of my own journey. I quit my job as an attorney in a Fortune 500 company and never looked back. My parents were not too happy, and while they did not discourage me, they were afraid for me. They eventually came around because they saw that I was happy, and they became my biggest cheer leaders. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life that the people who scrimped and saved to send me to law school did not guilt me when I left the legal profession to pursue what I know for sure is my life purpose to mentor and train entrepreneurs.

    I counted down, 5-4-3-2-1, and pursued my passion, and it has brought me straight to the life I planned for myself.

Overall Reading Experience

As much as I enjoyed and learned from this book, honestly, the reading experience was difficult. Each chapter is filled with little screen shots of testimonials from people who have used the rule to be successful in some inspiring way. That's the good news.

The annoying part about it is that the author pasted the blurbs into the book using whatever font type or size the person used when they made the comment. If it was an email, the screen shot was an email. If it was a Tweet in big letters, that was displayed. If it was an email sent in tiny and odd font, that's what we had to read. It was disjointed and, frankly, annoying. I ended up skipping a lot of them because it significantly slowed down the reading process for me. I was able to get the gist because the author summarized them, but seeing a bunch of pasted screen shots, sometimes 3 or 4 to a page, was quite distracting. Here is an example, on page 139.

Who Should Read The 5 Second Rule?

Anyone who needs to sort through why they are not taking actions they know they should take, and start changing that. If you like being inspired by the true stories of others who also struggle to get from “what I know I should do” to “doing it,” you'll enjoy this book. (Just read all the screen shots!)

How to Join the Indie Business Book Club

Membership in the Indie Business Book Club is free, and you can join us here on Facebook.

About Mel Robbins

Mel Robbins is a criminal attorney turned radio and television host, life and relationship coach, author and motivational speaker. Mel also hosts A&E's intervention television series – Monster In-Laws. Mel is a regular contributor to SUCCESS Magazine.

Watch Mel's popular TED Talk, Stop Screwing Yourself Over, below.

Visit the Mel Robbins's website.

Buy The 5 Second Rule

Buy The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.

Of course, you can also purchase the book at your favorite local book store, or, if you prefer listening to reading, on Audible.

Feedback and Share

Did you read along with us? What do you think of this book? Have you incorporated the 5 second rule into your life? How so? Does it work for you? Free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.