What do you do if you drop your toast on the kitchen floor? Do you grab it right away and feel your toast is still safe for consumption? What if you hesitate for just 5 seconds? How does that change your actions?
It takes about 5 seconds to talk yourself out of something – not a lot of time. And not such a big deal when it comes to dropped toast but dramatically more so when it comes to the rest of your life.
Maybe you’re at a cocktail party and there is a particular person you’ve been wanting to connect with – whether it’s for personal or professional reasons.
You look over and notice for a brief moment they are alone and this is the perfect opportunity for you to go and introduce yourself.
If you hesitate and let more than 5 seconds pass you won’t do it.
All you need is that first little seed of doubt to be planted.
“What will I say?”
“What if I make a fool of myself?”
“I’m sure they’re not interested in anything I have to say.”
As you’re having this conversation with yourself someone else has swooped in and the opportunity is gone.
You were defeated by yourself – that’s the worst kind of defeat!!!
How often do you hesitate and let great opportunities pass you by?
How many great ideas have you kept to yourself because you hesitated just that moment too long to speak up in a meeting or on a conference call?
Only to have someone else say the same idea minutes later and receive a ton of praise!
Or the “right moment” was there to ask for the sale, but you hesitated and let the sale slip by.
Even just paying someone a compliment, how many times has the initial thought come up and then you didn’t say the words?
There are so many stories of great partnerships (both professional and personal) that started with something like “we were standing in line at Starbucks and she gave me a compliment……….”
How many opportunities are missed just standing in line at Starbucks? If you’re going to pay $5 for a cup of coffee – make it worth it!
Even if the next great partnership doesn’t come out of it – you did make someone feel good and that makes you feel good too!
5 seconds is not a lot of time – but it makes all the difference in the world.
If you’ve been talking yourself out of things most of your life then you have built up a pretty good habit of it. It takes time to change a habit.
So start small with this rule and I’m going to suggest something we all have the opportunity to do countless times throughout the day.
As you go about your day today notice when the thought arises to pay someone a compliment and say it as soon as the thought arises – knowing that if you don’t act in 5 seconds you won’t act at all.
At the end of the day write down in a journal the compliments you gave and how you feel about your day overall.
And then keep looking for other ways to incorporate the rule.
You see a piece of trash on the street, don’t ask yourself “should I pick it up or not” – if the initial thought arose to pick it up then do it!
If you’re asked to dance at a party – do it – don’t think about it! No one ever regrets getting up and dancing – even if you’re a terrible dancer – its far better than remaining seated and watching everyone else have fun.
Keep writing about these experiences each day so you start to convince yourself (i.e., change your brain) that your initial thoughts are to be trusted!
The real secret to this rule is that it keeps you living in the present moment; instead of listening to that annoying voice in your head that stops you from being present.
We are ALWAYS at our best and happiest in the present moment.
When we’re not trying to plan the next thing to say or force the conversation in a different direction.
So when that opportunity arises to ask for the sale it’s not awkward because it was the right moment and you responded being fully present – the right words are always there for us when we are present.
Knowing the 5 second rule can make a huge difference to your life and now that you know the rule I hope you won’t let another opportunity pass you by!
Oh and by the way – if your toast lands buttered side down the 5 second rule does not apply! 🙂