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HOW TO BECOME THE MOST FULFILLED PERSON YOU KNOW

We’re nearing the end of the book. You’ve learned the story of the Rule, you understand the concept of everyday courage, and you’ve covered the more tactical uses of the #5SecondRule to change behavior and change your mind. You’re now ready to dive into the deeper and more soulful topics that impact your connection to yourself.

First, you’ll explore confidence and how you can build it using acts of everyday courage. You’ll learn about the surprising connection between confidence and personality. You’ll meet people who have had great success building their confidence and you’ll read some deeply honest social media posts about how to reconnect with the most important person in your life—yourself.

Second, you’ll learn how everyday courage helps you discover your passion. You’ll meet men and women who are using the #5SecondRule to win the battle with fear and find the courage to pursue what’s in their hearts. Their examples will inspire you to do the same.

Third, you’ll explore what creates deep and meaningful connections in relationships and why courage is such a critical component. The amazing stories in this section will inspire you to make the most of the time you have with the people you love and give you one simple thing that you can do at any moment and at any time to deepen your relationships.

Bring tissues.

This is my favorite section of the book. If you can enrich your self-confidence, passion, and connection with people, your life will transform in ways that you thought you could only dream of.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

BUILDING REAL CONFIDENCE

A big mistake people make is thinking that confidence is a matter of personality. Confidence just means that you believe in yourself, your ideas, and your capabilities. Anyone can learn how to become more confident. It’s not a personality trait. It’s a skill.

You may have an extroverted personality and talk a lot, but that doesn’t mean you are confident. The most vocal person in the room might be really insecure and only says what he thinks will make him look good. Look no further than me. For a long time, I was loud and bossy, but I felt insecure in myself, my ideas, and my abilities.

The quietest people you know might actually be the most confident. Your best friend who’s an introvert might believe in her ideas with great confidence (and get annoyed when you don’t ask her about them), but she’s afraid of speaking up because her face turns red. She isn’t lacking confidence in her ideas; she just needs a little courage to push through her fear of being judged for having rosy cheeks.

I had an experience that illustrates the connection between confidence, courage, and personality. It also will show you once again the authentic pride you feel when you 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

Recently, I had a chance to speak at Cisco Systems, the largest networking technology and services company in the world. A few months later I was invited back to give a similar talk, this time to a senior engineering group.

When I arrived for that second talk, a man came up to me as I was setting up with the AV team. He was so excited to see me and greeted me with the warm embrace of an old friend. Being from the Midwest, I love nothing more than a good hug. He could hardly contain his excitement, and said that he “had something so exciting to tell me about the Rule.” He had seen me speak at Cisco Live several months back. During that speech, as I often do, I gave the audience a homework assignment using the #5SecondRule:

Introduce yourself to three strangers today, using the 5 Second Rule.

Then, I explained how I wanted them to do this assignment:

Pay attention to your instincts and the moment that you feel “drawn” toward someone. That’s the “push moment.” Grab it. Start counting 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and start walking toward the person within five seconds before your mind talks you out of it.

Next, I explained to the audience what they can expect when they try this simple homework assignment. The moment that they see someone they’d like to meet their minds will fill up with a million excuses for why they shouldn’t walk over and introduce themselves: Oh…wait. They’re talking to other people and I don’t want to be rude; she looks busy so I’ll catch her later; he’s looking at his phone so I don’t want to interrupt; there’s not a lot of time so I’ll do it at the next break.

And all of those things you think—they aren’t true. Instead, it’s your brain trying to derail you.

After my new engineer friend recapped my own assignment, he then described what had happened to him. After my speech, at Cisco Live, he was out in the hallway and he had a “push moment.” John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, walked by with a group of senior leaders. Now, you must understand, John Chambers is a legend at Cisco and from all accounts, he’s a really great guy. Chambers was the CEO for twenty years and the very next day, it was going to be announced that he would be stepping down as CEO and that Chuck Robbins would be taking over.

So, my new friend the engineer was standing in the hallway fresh from learning the #5SecondRule. He saw Chambers and his instincts fired up. He immediately had the urge to introduce himself and thank Chambers for inspiring him, along with letting him know the pride that he felt being an engineer at Cisco. He told me that he knew he should do it and he tried to push himself, but he froze.

He explained that he felt paralyzed, adding that he is an “introvert” and “this sort of thing” doesn’t come naturally to him. The moment passed. His hero disappeared down the hall and he spent the remainder of the day beating himself up for not taking “his shot to meet him.” But luckily, that’s not the end of his story.

The next morning, my new friend was jogging next to the San Diego Bay in Embarcadero Park in downtown San Diego. This beautiful bike path along the Marina was (as usual) filled with runners, cyclists, and walkers. He had his earphones in and was listening to music, taking it all in. And all of a sudden, who do you think was ahead of him on the path? That’s right, John Chambers.

Chambers was alone, he had his headphones on, and he’s jogging too. My friend told me that he knew this was it. Now or never. He said, “I was immediately concerned that I would be interrupting his time to himself and that it would be rude, but I caught myself hesitating and started counting down 5- 4- 3-…” He sped up to catch Chambers, tapped him on the shoulder, apologized for interrupting, and then explained how he had always wanted to personally thank him for the incredible career he has had at Cisco. The two men stopped jogging and started to walk through the Embarcadero together.

According to my friend, Chambers was delightful and engaging. They discussed all kinds of topics: work, life, and even an idea that my friend had related to a project he was working on. At the end of the talk, Chambers shook his hand, thanked him for introducing himself, and gave the engineer the name of a senior person in the organization in charge of innovation. “Use my name and tell him we spoke and that I wanted you to share your idea with him,” Chambers said.

My new friend was beaming bright enough to light up the room as he told me the story. “It was the highlight of my career, Mel. And if it hadn’t been for the #5SecondRule, it never would have happened. I cannot thank you enough.” And then he added, “Oh, my gosh, I almost forgot; I’m now interviewing for a job with the man Chambers introduced me to!”

Did he get the job?

I honestly have no idea. A new job isn’t the point of the story. This is a story about acts of everyday courage and how they build confidence. This singular experience has the potential to change more than a job. If he continues to use the Rule to listen to and follow his instincts, it could very well change the trajectory of what’s possible for his life.

His exuberance was not necessarily about meeting the CEO, although that’s cool, but more about how darn good it feels when you honor your own desires and take control of your life.

Remember, confidence in yourself is built through acts of everyday courage. That’s what he was experiencing: the radiance of knowing that he could count on himself. The more that my engineer friend practices acts of everyday courage, the more confident he’ll become in himself.

Remember, confidence is created by the small things you do every single day that build trust in yourself.

I received a message from a man named Bill that will help me illustrate this point about learning to trust yourself. Bill described a struggle that so many of us face with a level of bravery that is inspiring.

“I Have An Issue Being the Real Me.”

Bill’s life on the outside sounds remarkable. He’s married, has four great kids, a very successful career, and is the president of a professional association. “Great life, huh?” Sure sounds like it. But there’s something missing. And it’s a meaningful connection with himself.

Bill is courageous enough to admit that he’s “not living with conviction” and that (like so many of us) he has developed a habit of “hesitating, overthinking, then never doing or saying what I should be doing or saying.” Bill feels as though he’s “lost somehow the ability to make a real connection with people.” He’s forgetting the most important person he’s lost connection with—himself. When you lose touch with the real you, you will feel adrift, you’ll lose confidence and your life will lose its “flavor of congruency.”

You can get it back with the #5SecondRule. Bill started using it to work on his relationship with himself. To go deep and “little by little” start walking the “journey of a thousand steps,” pushing himself to do the small things that “quietly” teach you to trust yourself.

A good life is made up of small steps—“making tough decisions,” “being able to say no,” even “getting out of bed and taking the dogs out” just because you said you would—they may be little steps in “learning to trust” yourself, but they are the most “exhilarating” moves that you can make for your confidence.

Trayce is a 48-year-old stay-at-home mom who felt stuck in a rut when she discovered the #5SecondRule and “WHAM…like a light had been turned on.” She uses the Rule to do things that “are small in the big scheme of things, but the feeling and uplift they give me is huge”—like speaking at church or posting a photo of herself online.

Here’s the thing we learned from Bill: Small things are not small at all. They are the most important things of all. And they add up. Pushing yourself to 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 on the “small things” gives you confidence to do the “big scheme of things.” “Most of the applications were small in the big scheme of things, but the feeling and uplift they gave me is huge.

Here is a brief list of some things I have done using the 5-second rule that I would not have otherwise done.

I stood up and danced by myself at a music concert, I took and posted a picture of myself with an author I admire [I don’t like pictures of myself], I spoke in front of a congregation in my church, I spoke to my husband about something that was bothering me, I introduced myself to people I wanted to meet, and I have accomplished more around my home [not putting things off as much].

In and of themselves, these are not earth shattering events, but I did them because of the power behind Mel’s 5-second rule.

I am trying to use this tool now for things I consider to be bigger struggles such as losing extra weight I have been carrying around for 25 years and to getting up the courage to attend my 30-year High School Reunion, considering the amount of weight I have gained.

I even used the 5-second rule to write and submit my story. I also try to share Mel’s message of the 5-second rule with others and have heard and seen some people putting it into practice for themselves. I know I will continue to use this empowering and yet so simple life-changing formula.

For the first time in a long time I feel like I am beginning to get unstuck and climb out of my rut…and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thank you, Trayce”

Confidence builds when you do things that affirm your sense of self, particularly when they are things that you might not normally do, like getting up on time, speaking in front of your church, or chasing down the CEO of Cisco on a bike path. These are acts of everyday courage and they build confidence.

Crystal attended that same Cisco Live 2015 event as the engineer and she wrote to me about the #5SecondRule. She “realized that for the past 8 years” she had “second guessed every step” she had taken: I thought someone was interesting and then a second later my mind would give me a million reasons why not to try to speak to them.

She started implementing 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and “right away” by first sitting next to people she didn’t know in a break out session. The next day, when the instructor asked if anyone had any questions, she “realized I did but was embarrassed to even ask…then thought you know what you would have stood up if you just stopped thinking about it so I did.” Using the #5SecondRule, she stood up and asked her question. She also inspired two other women to stand up too in a room full of male engineers. Next, she 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and made herself go to a basketball game when she didn’t feel like it and even found the courage to ask a VP for a business card. Because of these acts of everyday courage her confidence has grown since the event and her life has completely changed: a new job, a new title, and a new house.

Nobuo started using the #5SecondRule after he was “released from an executive director” role. He lost his motivation and “felt incapable.”

Using the Rule to practice acts of everyday courage “little by little,” Nobuo has found just like Crystal did that “the power and energy has come back to my heart, mind and body.” It’s come back because he has proven to himself that he has the power to change things in his life.

There’s one more point I want to make about personality and confidence. Remember what the engineer said right after he described how he froze the first time he saw Chambers walk by in the hallway? He offered an explanation of sorts, “I’m an ‘introvert’ and ‘this sort of thing’ doesn’t come naturally.” What if I told you that nothing about your life or personality is fixed or “comes naturally” anyway? Nothing comes naturally until you practice it. That’s why I keep saying you must “practice” acts of everyday courage.

You have the ability to improve, change or enrich every single aspect of your life—through action. Professor Brian Little, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, just gave a great TED Talk, “Who Are You, Really? The Puzzle of Personality.” In it, he talks about the difference between extroverts and introverts and the things that make us who we are. According to Professor Little, “It’s the doings. It’s the personal projects.” He describes how some of our traits are more fixed and automatic, but many are “free traits” that we can adjust in order to advance a core project in our lives.

Little explains that like the engineer at Cisco, he’s also an introvert. However, his core, personal project is to profess. He loves to teach. So even as an introvert, he is “acting out of character” when he is up in front of the class connecting with his students. How does he do it? Through deliberate and purposeful action. He pushes himself to do it.

The engineer’s personal project was to express his gratitude to John Chambers. That’s why he had the instinct to “act out of character.” How did he actually push himself to do it? The #5SecondRule. In both examples two things were present—a desire to do something meaningful (connect with students or a CEO) and deliberate action (a push to act out of character).

Does it feel harder for an introvert to walk up to a CEO, talk in front of her church, or teach a class than it feels for an extrovert to do these things? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how confident the individual is. And confidence, as you know, has nothing to do with personality.

As Professor Little likes to say, “you are like some other people and like no other person.” What I do know is that the first time you do anything, it’s going to feel difficult and maybe a little scary. You’re going to need a little courage. We are all capable of “acting out of character” when it serves an important purpose. The most important purpose I can think of is improving your life in ways that make you come alive and feel happy and fulfilled.

How do you “act out of character” to do that work? You guessed it: you assert yourself and practice acts of everyday courage using the #5SecondRule. Those acts may not seem “earth shattering,” but they will shatter self-doubt over time.

There’s so much greatness inside each and every single one of us. The Rule helps us see how “freaking incredible” we all are, just as Amber discovered about herself.

Which takes us back to the very beginning point: The more that you practice acts of courage, the more that you will believe you are in control of your life, and as a result, the more confident that you will become. Even when what you need to do scares you to death, the Rule helps you take courageous action. Michelle found the courage to quit her “toxic, anxiety ridden job” and even though she’s “scared of the unknown,” that one act of everyday courage has made her “more confident in myself and capabilities.”

As Michelle discovered, doing things that scare you actually make you more confident. If you have the courage to take action, your confidence will follow. Every time you push yourself to speak when you’re nervous, act when you’re afraid, or get to the gym when you don’t feel like it, you realize that you can rely on yourself to get anything done. From this belief in your personal abilities flows your confidence.

Jay goes to a performing arts high school in Toronto but has “always been nervous to go out for things.” Using the Rule, he has auditioned for more roles, gotten more parts in shows, and he’s also “gained a lot of self-confidence.”

The more that you use the Rule, the faster your confidence will grow. Stacey uses the Rule “almost daily” to act with courage and “talk to people face to face,” “do home shows” for her business, and “no longer hide” because of fear. Using the Rule in acts of everyday courage has helped her “grow in ways I never thought possible.” She has cultivated the confidence she’s always wanted and it feels “amazing.”

Throughout this book, you have read stories of people who have taken very simple or seemingly small steps forward—and their entire outlook on life has changed. It’s tempting to dismiss these stories because it seems implausible that by simply waking up on time every morning, you can create a chain reaction that impacts your confidence. However, this is exactly how you do it. Stop focusing on the big things. Use 5- 4- 3- 2- 1-GO on the smallest things—and you will see that these moments are actually not so small.

As Bill said, daily courageous actions of getting out of bed, making tough decisions, being able to say no, giving back every chance you get, and focusing on priorities create a ripple effect that change your life. These are little steps but the payoff is everything that you seek: confidence, control, and a sense of pride that feels damn good.

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