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CHAPTER SEVEN

YOU’LL NEVER FEEL LIKE IT

It’s a hot afternoon in Plano, Texas, and a woman named Christine is sitting in a meeting at work. Her boss has called the meeting to discuss ideas to help close a massive piece of consulting business. It’s down to two companies and the decision will be made next week. Christine is listening and taking notes when suddenly she thinks of an out-of-the-box idea: What if we create a custom Snapchat geo-filter and tag it to the prospect’s office building…everyone at the building using Snapchat will see it and that will create buzz about our company.

Her mind starts to race with all kinds of cool things that they could do. The conversation among her colleagues is winding down and the VP of Business Development says, “These are great suggestions, anyone else?”

Christine has a decision to make and she’ll make it in the next five seconds

She knows she should jump into the conversation, but first she stops to think. Is this going to sound crazy? No one else suggested anything even close to this kind of thing. She shifts in her chair. Is there a reason no one else has mentioned Snapchat? Now she’s questioning whether she should share the idea at all.

In the next five seconds, Christine will either decide to say nothing, a pattern that’s become a habit at work, or she will find the courage to speak up. Plus, Christine has a goal. She wants to advance in her career and is worried that she’s going to get “passed over” for more senior roles if she doesn’t improve her executive presence. She’s been spending a lot of time figuring out what she needs to do and she wrote to me because she was struggling with her ability to make herself do it. Her confidence is taking a nosedive.

She had devoured fantastic books like Lean In, Tribes, Daring Greatly, and The Confidence Code. She has attended women’s conferences, listened intently to her mentor, and practiced power posing in her mirror at home. Thanks to all this research and reading, Christine knows what she needs to do (share strategic ideas, be proactive, lean in, be more visible, and volunteer for projects that stretch her), and she knows why she needs to do these things.

You’re probably wondering why on earth Christine didn’t just speak up when she had the chance. Great question.

The answer is simple: she’s losing the battle with her feelings. Christine isn’t struggling with speaking. She’s struggling with self-doubt. Of course Christine knows how to speak in a meeting. What she doesn’t know how to do is beat the feelings that are stopping her.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to make yourself do the things that you know will solve your problems and improve your life, the answer is simple. It’s your feelings. None of us realize it, but we make almost every single decision not with logic, not with our hearts, not based on our goals or dreams—but with our feelings.

And our feelings in the moment are almost never aligned with what’s best for us. Take Christine as an example. She knows what’s best for her: to speak up. In the moment, however, her feelings are making her second-guess herself. Study after study shows that we opt for what feels good now or feels easier rather than doing the things that we know in our hearts will make us better in the long run.

The moment that you realize your feelings are the problem, you now have the ability to beat them. Look at how quickly Christine’s feelings rose in that meeting in Plano, Texas. In less than five seconds, self-doubt started to fill her mind. It happens to all of us. And once you understand the role feelings play in how you make a decision, you will be able to beat them. Here’s what you need to know: You Make Decisions Based On How You Feel

We like to think that we use logic or consider our goals when we make decisions but that’s not the case. According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, it’s our feelings that decide for us 95% of the time. You feel before you think. You feel before you act. As Damasio puts it, human beings are “feeling machines that think” not “thinking machines that feel.” And that’s how you ultimately make decisions—based on how you feel.

Damasio studied people who had damage to their brains and couldn’t feel any emotions at all and he discovered something fascinating—none of his research subjects could make a decision. They could describe logically what they should do and the pros and cons of the choice, but they couldn’t actually make a choice. The simplest decisions like “what do I want to eat?” were paralyzing.

What Damasio discovered is paramount for you to understand. Every time we have a decision to make, we subconsciously tally all the pros and cons of our choices and then make a gut call, based on how we feel. This happens in a nanosecond. That’s why none of us catches it.

For example, when you ask yourself the question, “What do I want to eat?” you are actually asking yourself, “What do I feel like eating?” Similarly, I wasn’t asking, “Should I get up?” Subconsciously, I was asking, “Do I feel like getting up?” Tom wasn’t asking, “Do I want to walk over to her?” Subconsciously he was asking, “Do I feel like walking over to her?” Christine was doing the same thing at work. She wasn’t asking, “Should I share my idea?” Subconsciously, she was asking, “Do I feel like sharing my idea?” Huge difference. And that explains why change is hard. Logically, we know what we should do, but our feelings about doing it make our decision for us. Your feelings will make the decision before you even realize what happened. How you feel in the moment is almost never aligned with your goals and your dreams. If you only act when you feel like it, you will never get what you want.

You must learn how to separate what you feel from the actions that you take. The #5SecondRule is a remarkable tool in this regard.

The moment you feel too tired, you’ll decide not to go for a run, but 5- 4- 3- 2- 1-GO, and you could make yourself go for one.

If you don’t feel like attacking the to-do list on your desk, you won’t, but 5- 4- 3- 2- 1-GO, and you can force yourself to start working on it.

If you don’t feel worthy, you’ll decide not to tell him what you really think, but 5- 4- 3- 2- 1-GO, and you can make yourself say it.

If you don’t learn how to untangle your feelings from your actions, you’ll never unlock your true potential.

Here’s how feelings keep you from changing. When you stop to consider how you feel, you stop moving toward your goal. Once you hesitate, you’ll start thinking about what you need to do, you’ll weigh the pros and cons, you’ll consider how you feel about what you need to do, and you’ll talk yourself out of doing it.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again because it is so important. You aren’t battling your ability to stick to a diet, execute a business plan, repair a broken marriage and rebuild your life, hit your sales goals, or win over a bad manager—you are battling your feelings about doing it. You are more than capable of doing the work to change anything for the better, despite how you feel.

You can’t control how you feel. But you can always choose how you act.

Ever wonder how pro athletes achieve so much? Part of it is talent and practice, but another key element is a skill that you and I need in our lives—the ability to separate from our emotions and push our bodies and mouths to move. They may feel tired as the football game drags into the fourth quarter, but they don’t act tired. Feelings are merely suggestions, ones the greatest athletes and teams ignore. To change, you must do the same. You must ignore how you feel, and as Nike would tell you, Just Do It anyway.

Everyone struggles with their feelings of self-doubt. Just ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash hit Hamilton that won 11 Tony Awards in 2016. It took him six years to write Hamilton. You may dream of writing the next Hamilton, and you very well might. Just don’t forget that it took Miranda six years to write that show. And he had to battle his feelings of self-doubt every step of the way.

He recently put up this post on his Twitter page. It’s a post of a conversation between Miranda and his wife, Vanessa. Three years before Hamilton debuted to sell-out crowds and $1,000 tickets, Miranda was still writing the musical and he was struggling with his feelings of self-doubt: “I have a hard time finding the balance between not beating myself up when it doesn’t happen as fast as I’d like it to, and not wasting time while I wait for it to happen.”

What did Miranda do? He pushed himself and kept writing. That’s why he posted this on his page: to remind everyone that we are all the same. We all struggle with the same self-defeating feelings and the only way out is through. So, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 suck it up and “Get back to your piano.”

I love what his wife said too: “Everyone has that problem all the time.” She’s right. We all doubt ourselves. That is the truth. The biggest mistake you could make is to buy into the lies your feelings are telling you. Do not wait until you feel like it. 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 Get back to your piano.

Let’s go back to that meeting in Plano, Texas, where Christine has a decision to make. In the past, as soon as she felt uncertain, she would have just looked down at her notepad, said nothing, and in five seconds, the moment would have been over. If one of her colleagues had raised a similar idea (as colleagues often do), she’d spend the afternoon beating herself up for not talking.

But today, Christine does something different. She dreads what she is about to do and she can feel the five second window closing as her own brain fights her. Her stomach is in knots as she applies the Rule.

She starts counting backwards silently in her head to quiet the self-doubt and to switch the gears in her brain.

5..4..3..2..1..

The counting interrupts her normal pattern of behavior, distracts her from her fears, and creates a moment of deliberate action. By asserting control in that moment, she activates her prefrontal cortex so that she can drive her thoughts and actions. Then she opens her mouth and says, “I have an idea.” Everyone turns and looks at her, and Christine feels like she might just die right there. She forces herself to keep moving forward. She sits up a little taller, takes up a little more space by sliding her elbows wider across the table (as power posing suggests we do), and starts to speak: So I had this idea, you know how statistically all these Millennials are using Snapchat as a platform to … Everyone listened to her idea, asked a few questions, and then her boss said, “Thanks, Christine. Very interesting suggestion. Anyone else?” On the outside, nothing earth-shattering happened, but on the inside something life-changing did. She discovered the courage she needed to become the person she always wanted to be at work—a rock star.

What Christine said isn’t the point. It’s that she said anything at all that makes this moment powerful. Sharing her idea for a social media campaign changed something way more important than the marketing strategy of a company. It changed Christine. It not only changed how she behaved, but it also changed how she viewed herself. It even changed her mindset. This is how you build confidence—one five-second move at a time.

She used the Rule to reach deep inside of herself to find a little courage. And by speaking up, when normally she’d hold back, she proved to herself on a random afternoon in a conference room in Plano, Texas, that she was in fact good enough and smart enough to contribute ideas at work.

It was a small but monumental step. And it took courage. The Rule is HOW she took a risk and was able to apply the advice that we all know works. It was HOW she leaned in as Sheryl Sandberg urges, outsmarted the lizard brain as Seth Godin implores, acted like an “Original” as Grant champions, and dared greatly as Brené Brown empowers us to do.

I said early on that the Rule is a tool that creates immediate behavior change. And that’s exactly how Christine used it. That’s how you’ll use it too. By being deliberate, Christine was able to beat the feelings that normally stopped her and become more assertive in her career. The more that she uses the Rule to express her ideas, the more confident that she will become.

Confidence is a skill that you build through action. Social psychologist Timothy Wilson writes about a psychological intervention, “do good, be good” that dates to Aristotle. Its premise is based on changing people’s behavior first, which in turn changes their self-perception of the kind of person that they are based on the kinds of things that they do.

This is precisely why the #5SecondRule is your ally. It is a tool for action and for behavior change aligned with your goals and commitments. It is not a tool for thinking, and at the end of the day, you are going to need to do more than think if you want to change your life.

Wilson clearly agrees. He has said that, “our minds aren’t stupid. It’s not like you can just tell your mind, ‘Think Positively.’ You’ve got to nudge it a little more along.” I believe you must do more than nudge. You must push right through the feelings that stop you and do the work to break the habits that hold you back. And then, you need to replace each and every one of these destructive habits with a habit of courage.

At the next meeting, Christine will need to practice everyday courage. She will have something to say and she’ll feel uncertain and uncomfortable. She will doubt herself as she is about to share her ideas, and then, she’ll hesitate and feel herself resist. That’s the push moment. It’s a moment when your values and goals will align, but your feelings will tell you “NO!” Christine will need to use the #5SecondRule to push herself to speak.

The more that she uses the Rule, the faster she will break her habit of staying silent in meetings and replace it with a new habit: courage. The more that Christine is able to express her true self and bring out the ideas inside her, the more alive, connected, and empowered she’ll become.

Nate knows exactly how empowering that feels—he is using the #5SecondRule “everyday now” to push himself to grow his wellness business:

Pushing herself to “get out of my comfort zone” is how Carol found the courage to achieve one of her #lifegoals #bucketlist—presenting to her nursing colleagues at a professional conference.

When Alexandra was invited to give a presentation at work, her head was full of excuses. In “a matter of 5,4,3,2,1” she acted on a “moment that changed everything”—and that gave her the confidence to teach “a post graduation class!”

The reason why it is so freeing to use the #5SecondRule is because you are not only seizing the moment, you are also taking ownership of your life. You are changing your “NOs to YESes.” As Jim says, “never underestimate the power of you”—he’s used the Rule to beat “analysis paralysis” and have “one incredible year.”

As Wilson and Aristotle said, “Do good, be good.” Change your behavior first because when you do, you change how you perceive yourself. That’s exactly what Anna Kate discovered while using the #5SecondRule. She’s a marketing professional who used to stay quiet when the room was watching, worried that her colleagues would think she’s “silly and inexperienced” only to learn that once she found the courage to change her behavior at work, something she never expected happened—her “creativity flourished.” “Hi Mel,

Here is my 5 Second rule story:

While I reluctantly drag myself out of bed (in 5 seconds) in order to do my 30 before 7:30 (inspired by you!) and other morning routines, my career has been impacted the most by the 5 second rule.

I’m in marketing, so we are constantly on alert for new ideas. Each new idea can take off and develop into a full on campaign garnering major results for our clients. Yep, just one little inkling. In order to keep it all together, I like to carry a small notebook in my bag with me wherever I go and use it to jot down quick tasks but mostly ideas.

With the 5 Second Rule, I don’t think it out or consider the long term life of my idea, nor do I send it up the ladder for approval - I’ll deal with that later. I just need to get it on paper. Later, I revisit and take the time to evaluate a sound strategy.

I used to be such a sissy when it came to sharing ideas or even writing them down! I was self-conscious and worried about what people would think, or if they would see me as silly and inexperienced. Since I have casted my scaredy cat syndrome aside, my creativity has flourished. Now, I can’t remember what I was so worried about in the first place.

Thank you for the 5 Second Rule!

P.S. My team actually digs my ideas :)

Anna Kate”

You can feel like a “scaredy cat,” but 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 act brave. At the heart of everyday courage is a choice. Five seconds at a time you make a decision to do, say, or pursue what’s truly important to you. That’s why there’s such a tight bond between courage and confidence. Every time you face doubt and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 right past it, you prove to yourself that you are capable. Every time that you beat fear and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 do it anyway, you display inner strength. Every time you smash your excuses and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 say it, you honor the greatness inside of you that wants to be heard. That’s how confidence grows—one small, courageous move at a time.

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