The 5 Second Rule Book Summary and Insights

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Book Title: The 5 Second Rule

Subtitle: Transform Your Life Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage

Publication Date: 2017

Author Name: Mel Robbins

Book Summary

This is a book that spurs us into action. It enables us to understand our fears and the reasons we postpone our dreams. The 5 Second Rule charges us to take control rather than take a back seat in the actions of our lives. Many people have had their dreams snatched at an early stage because they were not prepared to do what it took to put those dreams to fruition. Reading this book gives you the key towards moving from passivity to activity. The book also shows examples of how great people changed the narrative of the world by taking action. Should you need inspiration to turn your life around, then do not waste a second to read The 5 Second Rule. It only takes a second to change your life. Find out how to do so this second.

Who Is This Book For?

The book is for every person who desires to take action to improve their lives.

About The Author

Mel Robbins is an award-winning CNN on-air commentator and op-ed writer, a contributing editor to SUCCESS Magazine, best-selling author and one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in America. She began her career as a criminal defence attorney in New York City, then launched and sold several companies and hosted several programs for A&E, FOX, Cox Media, and CNN.

Now she is no longer arguing “reasonable doubt” inside the courtroom, she’s teaching leaders inside the world’s leading brands how to break the habit of self-doubt and build the habits of confidence and courage at work and in life. Mel is a Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School graduate. She and her husband of 18 years have three young kids. She lives in the Boston area, but remains a Midwesterner at heart.

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Book Insights

Changing your life starts by taking Action

5 birds are sitting on a tree branch. 3 of the birds make up their minds to look for grub. How many birds sitting are left on the tree branch?

If you said 2, you are wrong. There are still 5 birds sitting on the tree branch. It is one thing to decide; it is quite another to take action. The state of indecision and inaction or hanging in limbo is common to most people. We go through a period where we do not have the desire to be actionable. This happens in different phases of our lives. We are too lazy to go to they gym because the weather is so cold outside, and the bed is soft and warm. We lack the desire to read our books, preferring to play on the video games even when the exams are just five days away. The lack of desire to take action can have serious consequences for us. Especially when we take action when it is a little too late. Because Melissa did not go to the gym, she is suffering from a disease which has altered her lifestyle for good. Because Kyle refused to read for his exams, he has come out with grades which will affect his employment prospects. Therefore, we need this 5 Second Rule. It is indispensable for people who do not have the willpower to take instantaneous action. You can have a start-up idea which can revolutionise the world for good. But ideas are a dime a dozen. Your idea is only as good as the actions you take today. Rather than think about it, why not do it? Nike uses the slogan “Just Do It”. And for good reason. It is not a surprise the company is the biggest sporting goods manufacturer in the world. The five second rule shows us how to be actionable by counting down towards taking action. By doing so, we gear our mind towards a singular aim, pushing aside the distractions or comforts holding us back.

The Five-Second Rule Brings Out The Inner Lion In You

Bishnu Shrestha, a retired soldier from the Indian army after serving in the Gurkha Regiment is on a train heading home when robbers pretending to be passengers stop the train deep in the jungles of Chittaranjan India. These robbers, 40 of them, ransack the passengers depriving them of their jewellery and other valuables. The retired soldier does not resist, instead surrenders the little valuables he has on his person. But when the robbers try to rape a young woman sitting beside him, he took action. Instantaneous action. Bishnu could have let them have their way with the lady, she was not a sibling or relative, but he did not. He decided at the moment to do what he could to help her. This was how 1 soldier fought a gang of 40 Thieves (no pun intended) after killing 3 and injuring 8, the robbers decide the risk of taking on a Gurkha soldier isn’t worth the reward and fled for their lives. Because he took action within seconds, he prevents a woman’s rape in front of her parents. This is what The 5 Second Rule can do. It brings out the lion within you. Nobody prays to be in desperate situations but there may just be a case where we find ourselves in grave danger. It could be a robbery, kidnap or mugging. It could also be in a peer pressure situation surrounded by friends. Whatever the situation might be, it is only by being courageous and taking immediate action do we give ourselves a chance of survival or hope for redemption.


Push Past Your Comfort Zone And Discover The Opportunities Lying In Wait

Many people are too comfortable with their lives. They are so happy leading mediocre lives they do not know the dreams they could accomplish should they push for it and take action. We go through life as though we are in a psychedelic haze moving like zombies making no change to our steps. But the 5 Second Rule can help us change that. If we do not move past our comfort zones, we cannot make the desired impact we dream to make in society. It is not enough for you to dream of becoming an executive chef, enroll yourself in a class today. Sometimes it may be impossible for us to achieve our goals due to circumstances beyond our control. We may not have the required finances to bankroll that start-up. Or we do not have the required funding to go to culinary school. That does not mean we should give up our dreams. We can always start small, the important thing is to take action by doing something while not loosing sight of the goal. Culinary school may be expensive. But you can work a part-time job to save for it. This also gives you focus and drive. The chance to wake up each day with a goal at the back of your mind. It is not a crime to dream big while starting small. If we keep on waiting for the perfect time, or for the stars to align “just right” chances are we may never do what we set out to achieve. Do you want to get married before a certain time? Then go out and meet people. Do you want to keep fit? Then work out now. You do not get results by dreaming about them in your head. Use the 5 Second Rule to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to discover the world beyond your horizons and achieve your dreams.

We cannot control what we feel, but we can control what we do with those feelings

Humans are hard-wired to act in tandem to how we feel. We feel tired so we sleep. We feel hungry; we eat. We feel horny; we have sex. Feelings equal action. We cannot control how we feel, but we can decide and take action in response to those feelings. Not every action taken in response to a feeling is good for us. For people who are trying to lose weight, this is especially true. It is hard to take action to lose weight and many people do not realise the effort obese people put towards turning their lives around. But sometimes there is that chink in the armour. A crack in the impregnable fortress. We hunger for our cravings even when we know they are unhealthy for our long-term goals. The craving is a feeling. But rather than a binge in cookies or chips or get that tub of ice cream, we can use that craving as fuel to push on. So instead of eating that junk food that does us no good, we can hit the gym. This is not only applicable in this scenario, but in all other aspects of our lives. Particularly areas that have to do with addiction. It could be an addiction to alcohol, addiction to drugs or addiction to masturbation. Whatever our addiction might be, these are feelings we cannot control. But we can control what we do about it by taking action for the better. Actions that will help us become stronger and richer for the experience. The 5 Second Rule helps us to make up our minds to take positive action and break through the chains holding us back in our lives.

Deal with Procrastination Using The 5 Second Rule

This is a re-occurring theme with what I have said in previous insights. We have filled our lives with the technology which should make our burden easier to bear. But these technologies have a side effect. They make us lose track of time while we get lost in irrelevant things. We prefer to look at what is happening on Facebook instead of getting our work done. Technology that should make it more convenient to take action has become the tools for procrastination. Instead of saving that money to get the roof fixed or pay off our credit card debt, we splurge it on a new iPhone that adds little or no value in our life, telling ourselves we can always clear our credit later. But in the meantime, the credit keeps accruing, and the debt keeps piling up. We can use The 5 Second Rule to stop procrastinating on our actions today and make those uncomfortable choices which in the long run will add good value to our life.

A Time Spent Worrying Is a Time Wasted on Nothing 

This is accurate. Worrying is the same as indecision. When you worry, you put yourself in a state of helpless anxiety. It achieves nothing. As parents we worry about our children, worry about their grades, worry whether they become productive members of society. But this is not useful. Rather than worry, why don’t we take action? We could instead take steps to make sure our kids have a brighter future. This could be by enrolling them for extra lessons, or teaching them how to be capable. There are circumstance we cannot control. Yet we worry about them. Rather than worry about the things you cannot change, focus on the things you can and have fun doing them. Worrying stops us from looking at the positives in our lives, preventing us from enjoying ourselves. But with the Five Second Rule, you can learn to focus on those things which matter.

Key Quotes

Here’re some key quotes from the book:

“Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for just a nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small Hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than – you guessed – five seconds.” — Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

“There’s one thing that is guaranteed to increase your feelings of control over your life: a bias towards action”. — Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage


We do not always take action when it is critical for us to do so. Trivial things easily distract us because of little or no willpower. This makes us to miss out on our dreams, living a life of regret. But by using The 5 Second Rule, we can become more active and disciplined in our life.

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Giovanni O.C Olakunori

Giovanni Chinecherem Olakunle Olakunori(commonly known as Giovanni Olakunori) is an aspiring data scientist at heart, business developer and educator with a deep interest in ancient philosophy, healthy living, and developing economies. He’s the founder of LarnEdu, a community that inspires and supports lifelong learning especially in underdeveloped nations. He currently lives in the UK after living in 4 other countries across Europe and Africa. You can read more about him or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see his public posts about how much he loves hot Kenkey and Jolof rice.

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