Here is the full transcript of powerhouse speaker and author Mel Robbins’ fireside chat on Why Motivation Is Garbage at Impact Theory.
TOM BILYEU: Everybody welcome to Impact Theory. You are here because like me you believe that human potential is nearly limitless but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that are going to help you actually execute on your dreams.
All right, today’s guest is one of the most popular on air commentators and opinion writers for CNN and her unique brand of raw and relatable advice has made her one of the most sought after speakers and media personalities. Watching her you get the feeling that this mother of three is just getting started. Her well researched and really powerful insights into what it means to be a human come wrapped in both science and lovely mid-western charm, allowing her to cut through the formality of typical business jargon and grab her audiences by the emotions. She has made a name for herself by being; blunt, unapologetic and yet totally vulnerable.
She says what everybody is already thinking but is just a little too scared to say and it makes people absolutely love her. It is not hard to understand why her TED Talk titled; how to stop screwing yourself over is one of the most watched TED Talks of all time. It’s also easy to see why she is an award-winning talk radio host who is trusted by some of the biggest brands on the planet to help motivate and advice their teams. She has appeared on everything from Good Morning America and The Today Show to Dr Phil and Oprah.
Somehow she has also made time to found an inspirational news site called inspire52com and found and sell a retail and internet tech company. Please help me in welcoming the former criminal defense attorney who has been called an explosion of inspiration, the bestselling author with a brand new book titled: The 5 Second Rule, the master of motivation herself; Mel Robbins. It’s really good to have you on the show.
MEL ROBBINS: Oh my gosh, thank you.
TOM BILYEU: Absolutely.
MEL ROBBINS: You called me the master of motivation and I think motivation is complete garbage so maybe we should start there.
TOM BILYEU: That is a perfect place to start, so I totally agree with you but why do you say that?
MEL ROBBINS: You do?
TOM BILYEU: I do 100%. Now I said that in the spirit of I know what you are trying to do so it is meant with absolute reverence, but why do you say that it’s garbage?
MEL ROBBINS: Well and we’ll talk a lot about this but I think it’s garbage because at some point we all bought into this lie that you’ve got to feel ready in order to change. We bought into this complete falsehood that at some point you are going to have the courage, at some point you are going to have the confidence and it’s total bullshit frankly. Are we allowed to swear on this show?
Okay, it’s complete garbage so there are so many people in the world and you may be watching this right now and you have these incredible ideas and what you think is missing is motivation and that’s not true. Because the way that our minds are wired and the fact about human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult.
Our brains are designed to protect us from those things, because our brains are trying to keep us alive. In order to change, in order to build a business, in order to be the best parent, the best spouse to do all those things that you know you want to do with your life, with your work, with your dreams you are going to have to do things that are difficult, uncertain or scary. Which sets up this problem for all of us, you are never going to feel like it.
Motivation is garbage, you only feel motivated to do the things that are easy right?
TOM BILYEU: Why do you think that is?
MEL ROBBINS: I know exactly why that is because I’ve studied this so much, because for me one of the hardest things to figure out was why is it so hard to do the little things that would improve my life. What I’ve come to realize and what we’ll talk a lot about today is that the way that our minds are designed is our minds are designed to stop you at all cost from doing anything that might hurt you.
The way that this all happens is it all starts with something super subtle that none of us ever catch and that is with this habit that all of us have that nobody is talking about. We all have a habit of hesitating. We have an idea, you are sitting in a meeting, you have this incredible idea and instead of just saying it you stop and you hesitate. Now what none of us realize is that when you hesitate just that moment, that micro moment, that small hesitation it sends a stress signal to your brain. It wakes your brain up and your brain all of a sudden goes, “Wait a minute, why is he hesitating, he didn’t hesitate when he put on his killer spiky sneakers, he didn’t hesitate with the really cool track pants, he didn’t hesitate with a NASA t-shirt. Now he’s hesitating to talk, something must be up.”
Then your brain goes to work to protect you, it has a million different ways to protect you. One of them is called the spotlight effect. It’s a known phenomenon where your brain magnifies risk, why? To pull you away from something that it perceives to be a problem. You can truly trace every single problem or complaint in your life to silence and hesitation, those are decisions. What I do and what’s changed my life is waking up and realizing that motivation is garbage. I’m never going to feel like doing the things that are; tough or difficult or uncertain or scary or new, so I need to stop waiting until I feel like it.
Number two, I am one decision away from a totally different marriage, a totally different life, a totally different job, a totally different income, a totally different relationship with my kids. Not like one decision. I’m divorcing you in a marriage example but one decision on, you could be having a conversation with your spouse and you feel your emotions rise up and within a tiny window those emotions can take over and can impact how your marriage goes. You can learn how to take control of that micro moment and make a decision to act in a way that actually shifts your marriage. Your life comes down to your decisions and if you change your decisions you will change everything.
TOM BILYEU: That core concept comes through so powerfully in your book which is phenomenal and I would love it if you would take a second to tell people the story of how, and by the way I wore the NASA shirt because of the imagery.
MEL ROBBINS: Oh is that why you wore it?
TOM BILYEU: Of course.
MEL ROBBINS: Oh my God, I’ve like falling my glasses off that is, I did not even get that. I was going to ask you why you wore that shirt oh my gosh, wow.
TOM BILYEU: Break it down.
MEL ROBBINS: You actually do your homework.
TOM BILYEU: Of course Mel absolutely.
MEL ROBBINS: Let me just take you back, so what you are talking about is the five second rule which has become literally my life’s work and it was all a gigantic mistake I read up on you too and understand how quest like was born out of misery. The five second rule and my life now and my 20 year marriage and everything that I’m doing and the companies that I’ve built and sold and the company I’m building now, it all comes back to a point in my life that completely and utterly blew. I was 41 years old. I was unemployed, my husband had started a restaurant business which was his dream; this is actually a funny story.
When he got laid off from a big job in high tech and I think he was really relieved, you know how a lot of us wait to quit our jobs and then we get laid off and are like, “Yes.” He said, “I’m not going to look for a job. I’m going to go into the restaurant business,” and I think I said the most famous lines of our marriage at that point. I looked at him and I said, “Listen buddy, inspiration is for strangers, you get your butt back to that job and you pay the mortgage.” Again micro moment where …
TOM BILYEU: That is amazing.
MEL ROBBINS: I’m being a jerk instead of being a supportive wife. That’s an example of where when he said he was not going to go get a job but he was going to start a business, the first thing that was there was fear. Fear was making the decision for me.
TOM BILYEU: God, I love that you could share that though, that’s so powerful.
MEL ROBBINS: What happened is the first restaurant was a home run and of course what do you do when things are successful? You grow it, you grow it really big. They decided to raise money and we threw in our home equity line, the kid’s college savings, they tried to open a second and a third and at the same point a grocery store chain. I encouraged them to go into wholesale, so it basically got way too big way too first and the wheel started to come off. They came off so badly that the second restaurant failed and they held on to it for too long like a lot of us do. It’s another trick our brains play on us called [Suncoast].
When you throw a ton of time and a ton of money at something it’s really hard to let go of it and if you haven’t done it in business, we all had a relationship in our past, stayed way too long that was a trick your brain played on you. By the time that they closed the second restaurant it was an $800,000 loss.
TOM BILYEU: Whoa!
MEL ROBBINS: I mean that meant our entire home equity line gone. It meant kid’s college, I just choked just thinking about how terrifying it was. I found myself at the age of 41 like just feeling like a complete failure and so did Chris. To make it worse not only had we lost all of our savings, but so many friends and family members had invested so there was this real tension between the truth of what was happening and what you had to do in public because it was public business; shame, failure, embarrassment and the lien started to hit the house.
The phone started to ring and it was nothing but collection calls. I just remember feeling this tremendous shame and at some point I think we all hit that moment in life where things just are not going how you thought they would go. What’s amazing about those moments is we all respond very differently. My husband, he would spring out of bed and he would head right out that door six o’clock in the morning and he would go meet his partner and they would go to the bank and they would dig right in and they would face their problems head on. He is also a smart guy. I mean he did not want to be in the house when yours truly woke up because I was a raging bitch at that point in our lives. The reason why is because when you are scared and you are afraid and you are jealous and you are overwhelmed with emotions, it is so much easier to point the finger at other people. That’s a decision by the way one you may not be aware that you are making but you are still making it. What would happen to me is the exact opposite, is Chris would be gone the alarm would go off at six o’clock in the morning and I would lie there.
I would think about the lien on the house and I would think about the bankruptcy that we were facing and I would think about how much we had fought the night before and I would think about the fact that I was unemployed. I would hit the snooze button. I mean why would you get up when your life is like that? Why would you? I needed confidence, I needed courage. I was so tapped out.
In the scheme of life hitting the snooze button is not that big of a deal but here is the thing about life; none of us wake up and say, “Today is the day I destroy my life.” What we do is we kind of check out because it feels overwhelming or we check out because we’re afraid or we check out because we start listening to self-doubt and then we make these teeny-tiny decisions all day long and we don’t even realize it. Decision to not get up on time, a decision to not eat the right thing, a decision to snap at your kids, a decision to not speak at a meeting, a decision to not look for a job, a decision to not deal with your finances, a decision to not call your parents like whatever it is.
All day long these tiny decisions that take you so far off track and then you wake up like I did and you look at your life and you think, “How the hell did I get here,” and more importantly how do you get back over there and you have no idea. I was to strapped and I know from your story you felt the same way, like you knew that there was more in store for you but you couldn’t figure how do you close that gap? How do you find the power that’s in you, how do you discover your greatness, how do you solve these problems? I feel so overwhelming. When you can… I mean I would go to the grocery store and the items would scan and I would be sitting readying my excuse because there was no way that my check card was going to clear.
TOM BILYEU: Wow!
MEL ROBBINS: I got in this struggle with myself that a lot of us find ourselves in and that is you get trapped in what I call the knowledge-action gap. You know what to do but you can’t seem to make yourself do it. I mean every one of us is one Google search away from a list of instructions that if you follow any of them…
TOM BILYEU: That’s a really good point.
MEL ROBBINS: …it will change your life. How do you get out of your head and stop thinking about what you need to do and actually do it. In my case this stuff was pretty easy; get up on time, make breakfast for the kids, get them on the bus, start looking for a job, be nicer to Chris, don’t drink so much. Instead of isolating yourself pick up the phone and call a friend, get yourself out into the woods and go for a walk, start running again.
Like all these little things that I was capable of but I couldn’t get out of here, could not get out of here and if you are stuck that’s the problem. The problem is you are in your head, you’re thinking: That is the universal problem and it all starts with this knowledge of what to do and then you hesitate and you think about whether or not you feel like doing it. For a couple of months I was really stuck, Chris would get up at six, I’d hit the snooze and then I’d hit the snooze and then I hit the snooze the kids would miss the bus. Then every night I’d do the same thing: I’d go in bed, have ever had one of those nights probably before you started your company where you would go in bed and you are like, “All right Tom, that’s it; tomorrow it’s the new me, tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to get up on time, I am going to go to the gym, I am going to look for a job, I’m not going to drink so much it’s going to be amazing. The new me, the future me whoa let’s do this,” right? Then you go to bed and you wake up seven hours later and you are like, “I don’t feel like the new me.”
TOM BILYEU: Who was that?
MEL ROBBINS: Who the, that’s the stupidest. See motivation is garbage, it’s never there when you need it ever. Here is what happened to me and thank you for wearing the NASA t-shirt.
TOM BILYEU: Of course.
MEL ROBBINS: It’s a really stupid story.
TOM BILYEU: It’s a powerful story.
MEL ROBBINS: One night Chris had gone to bed. I had been struggling, we still had all the same problems. I. we still had the lien on the house, still facing bankruptcy, still fighting like crazy, I was still unemployed. They still hadn’t figured out the solution yet for the business and I was about to turn off the TV. There on the TV there was this rocket launching and I thought, “Oh my gosh that is it. I am going to launch myself out of bed like a rocket ship like NASA right here and launch me out of that bed. I’m going to move so fast that I don’t think I’m going to beat my brain.”
Now here is a really interesting point, I talk a lot about your instincts and inner wisdom and we can get into this a little bit later. A lot of us talk about the fact that you have a gut feeling, but what all these research that I’ve done for the book and all the speaking that I do. What I’ve discovered that’s fascinating is actually when you set goals, when you have an intention on something that you want to change about your life your brain helps you. What it does is it opens up a check list and then your brain goes to work trying to remind you of that intention that you set. It’s really important to develop the skill and I say that word purposefully, the skill of knowing how to hear that inner wisdom and that intention kicking in and leaning into it quickly. For me my brain saying, “That’s it right there move as fast as rocket Mel,” I wanted to change my life.
I think most people that are miserable or that are really dying to be great and dying to have more; we want to change, we want to live a better life, we want to create more for our families, we want to be happier. The desire is there; again it’s about how do you go from knowledge to action. The first thing in this story that’s important is realizing that the answer was in me and my mind was telling me, “Pay attention”. Could have also been the bourbon. I mean I had had a couple of Manhattans that night. Anyway, the next morning the alarm goes off and I pretend that NASA was there.
It’s the stupidest story. I literally went; five, four, three, two, one I counted out loud and then I stood up. I’ll never forget standing there in my bedroom; it was dark, it was cold, it was winter in Boston. For the first time in three months I had beaten my habit of hitting the snooze button. I couldn’t believe it and I thought, “Wait a minute counting backwards that is the dumbest thing. I’ve ever heard in my entire life.” Well the next morning I used it again and it worked.
The next morning I used it again and it worked. The next morning I used it and it worked. Then I started to notice something really interesting, there were moments all day long just like that five second moment in bed where I knew knowledge what I should do. If I didn’t move within five seconds my brain would step in and talk me out of it. Every human being has a five second window, might even be shorter for you, you have about a five second window in which you can move from idea to action before your brain kicks in to full gear and sabotages any change in behavior.
Remember your brain is wired to stop you from doing things that are uncomfortable or uncertain or scary. It’s your job to learn how to move from those ideas that could change everything into acting on them in the smallest moment.
TOM BILYEU: For anyone right now at home who is thinking like this sounds too simple, too easy. Talk a bit about your community, because reading some of their comments it’s crazy how many people like the sheer volume of the people you quote in your book. If you also go online and just look at the people that are directly reaching out to you, it is an avalanche of people that have stories around the five second rule.
MEL ROBBINS: One of the reasons why I’m so excited about this book and look, you don’t have to buy the book. This is an idea that you can use; it’s free, it’s backed by science, more than eight million people around the world have discovered it. You are talking about the number of people we’ve heard from more than a hundred thousand people in 80 countries.
TOM BILYEU: That’s crazy.
MEL ROBBINS:… that are using this rule. We know of 11 people who have stopped themselves from killing themselves using this rule.
TOM BILYEU: I saw one of those outreaches which is …
MEL ROBBINS: There is a guy Steve who wrote to us who was a veteran. He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he boarded a ferry overseas with the intention to jump over. He walked over the railing and his inner wisdom kicked in. In that moment the five second rule; five, four, three, two, one counting backwards moved away from the railing asked for help saved his life. His story has inspired countless other people that have heard me in the speeches that I give around the world about this one tool. The thing that’s so cool about this, and I should tell you the science behind it because I’m going to be honest with you it is stupid.
Had I ever thought that I would find myself eight years after discovering it spending my days telling people about the five second rule, first of all I would have picked a different name because it reminds you of the one where you have to pick up food in five seconds off the floor.
TOM BILYEU: Yeah.
MEL ROBBINS: It was my secret weapon; this was something I did, I never intended to tell anybody. I went from getting up on time and waking up on time to shaking up my entire life. Because when you understand the power of a five second decision and you understand that you always have a choice to go from autopilot to decision maker, everything in your life will change. You will be a different negotiator, you will be different in sales, you will be unstoppable on the gym because you will realize the amount of garbage that you put in the way of your hopes, of your dreams, of your potential, of your confidence, of your courage. Everything comes down to the decision that you make.
We all know what to do none of us know how to make ourselves do it. I started researching it why does something so stupid work, why? Why does something so silly create such powerful and profound change? Well here is why, the rule is a form of metacognition. Metacognition is a fancy pants term that means something real simple; you can out smart your own brain in furtherance of goals.
TOM BILYEU: Agree.
MEL ROBBINS: There are tricks that you can use that actually outsmart the tricks your brain plays on you. In furtherance of a higher purpose we all know this, you can restrain yourself if you are in a situation that calls for it. You can jump into a raging river to save your dog or your kid, you can direct yourself in ways if it’s important to you. The rule what it does is it does something really remarkable. When you count backwards; five, four, three, two, one what you are actually doing is you are interrupting what researchers call habit loops that get in coded as closed loop patterns in your basal ganglia. That’s the part of the brain where your feelings, where your emotions every habit that you have which is nothing more than behavior that you repeat that you don’t even think about.
TOM BILYEU: I’ve heard it referred to as a gear box, because you shift your attention.
MEL ROBBINS: Yes, so when you go; five, four, three, two, one it interrupts what’s going on here that’s spinning without you thinking and it moves and awakens your prefrontal cortex. When you hit one your habit has been interrupted so you’ve interrupted self-doubt, you’ve interrupted maybe snapping at your kids, you’ve interrupted the desire to grab for drink, you’ve interrupted procrastination. You’ve also by counting backwards done an action, it awakens your prefrontal cortex that is the part of the brain that’s awake when you are changing behavior, when you are learning new things. When you hit one it’s also a prompt.
In the language of research you’ll hear people talk about starting rituals, that is something that’s proven to help you learn a new habit. The five second rule when you repeat it becomes a starting ritual that triggers you to act with confidence, that triggers you that this is a moment for courage, that triggers you to shift gears. Because you’ve also done the manual work of awakening the part of the brain that you need to change, you’ve set yourself up for success. It doesn’t work if you count up because you can keep going and also counting up doesn’t require a focus. If you count backwards; five, four, three, two, one it again awakens the prefrontal cortex and it prompts you to move.
When you start to use it and then you read about it you’ll see that it’s being used all over the place; they use it in the armed services in order to align troops and get them to start an exercise, they use it in elementary schools; five, four, three, two, one at big assemblies to get a huge room full of kids to stop talking.
TOM BILYEU: Exactly, a really simple and interesting example yeah.
MEL ROBBINS: Because it requires you to focus it’s not a habit. It will become a habit that prompts you to have confidence and courage, but in the beginning it interrupts patterns of behavior that you do on autopilot, it helps you assert control and it teaches you how to become the kind of person that moves from thinking about something to actually doing it.
TOM BILYEU: It’s incredible so there is so many things in that story and guys I’m telling you it’s, you are going to love the depth of brain research that is put in the book. It’s really quite extraordinary you really have an amazing grasp of the brain and it really, really came through in the book. For me it was a wonderful balancing act between the raw emotion of the people writing in and some of the stories that you are sharing and the imagery of the rocket ship which you are very open about. It’s sort of a silly visual metaphor, but because it’s effective that silliness is somewhat relevant.
MEL ROBBINS: What’s incredible is in five seconds flat self-doubt can take over and rob you of your power and rob you of joy and rob you of your potential or in five seconds flat, you can actually use one stupid little trick to push yourself to grab it.
TOM BILYEU: What I loved in the book is because you paint the picture so very well, you are also just a good writer, so you paint the picture like I could feel the crisp winter air of Boston stalking you out of the under the comforter. I could really feel that I was there with you as Chris’ business is struggling, so you really feel all of that. The moment when you do the countdown you spring out of bed and you are almost like taking yourself by surprise and you are like moving before you realize it.
But you are reading it from the perspective of, I already knew who you were, so it was it gave me the chills. It was more difficult to picture you as stuck than it was to know, “I know where she goes”. I had already seen the TED Talk by the time I read the book, I knew what you were doing from a media perspective, I knew how many people and companies you would help. For me it was like watching it in reverse, so I’m watching it from the safety of, “I know she crushes,” it so if this is the thing and I love that this isn’t your first book. This was the secret that you planned to keep hidden in the drawer forever.
MEL ROBBINS: Yeah. I was not going to tell anybody because it was stupid and it also worked, so it was my thing and it’s not your thing. See the real thing that happened for me and this is something that is a really important topic for me, is that there is when you talk about personality so extroverts, introverts. a lot of us really. I know I did this. I was all wrong about what confidence meant. I thought confidence was a personality trait.
TOM BILYEU: I love this tell me more.
MEL ROBBINS: I thought that people that are outgoing are the confident ones and the truth is confidence is not a personality trait at all, it’s a skill. A lot of the extroverted people that you know are actually very insecure, I used to become of them, I used to be the kind of bossy class loud mouth; that didn’t believe in myself, that didn’t believe in my ideas, that didn’t have the confidence and the courage to really be the real me; who I am, who I’m not flaws and all. There are tremendous number of introverted people that feel uncomfortable putting the attention on themselves, but they are very, very confident in their ideas.
They definitely believe in themselves. When you start to separate confidence not as a matter of personality but as a skill that you can acquire because confidence is the ability to move in my opinion from thought to action. Because when you are a confident person you believe enough in yourself and your capability that you are willing to try, that you are willing to share. To me confidence isn’t the assuredness that it turns out, it’s the willingness to try and that was a huge insight for me. What a lot of people don’t know about me although I share this on stage and I’m extremely open about this because this is a topic that’s really important to me.
The single most profound use of the five second rule is mind control, and I say that as a lawyer. I will tell you, you can use this stupid trick to cure yourself of anxiety.
TOM BILYEU: Yeah. I wanted to talk about that, so you struggled very profoundly with anxiety so walk us through some nuts and bolts of how you use the five second rule. I think, so my hypothesis and the reason we founded Impact Theory is that the world is living through two pandemics; the pandemic of the body which everybody understands because it’s so visual; being overweight, dying of diet related diseases such as diabetes. Because the second pandemic — the pandemic of the mind is invisible people don’t realize how pervasive a suicide is and I think it’s the leading cause of death among young men. I mean it’s crazy. Then that there are ways that they can go about attacking that and fixing the problem, so walk us through that.
MEL ROBBINS: Sure. I would love to. First of all I literally have struggled with anxiety my entire life and anxiety for this conversation the way I define it is — it is the habit of worrying spiraled out of control. You may say that you are a worrier that’s not true; you have a habit of worrying. A habit is a pattern of behavior or thinking that you repeat without realizing it.
Anxiety happens when that pattern of worrying about things spirals out of control and now it starts to marry and manifest itself with physical sensations too, that’s all that it is. I know that I said that, that’s all that it is. Me personally I struggled with anxiety, I think my entire life, it became quite acute when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I became medicated in the middle of law school. I took Zoloft for two decades. When our first daughter was born who is now 17 the postpartum depression and the cascading panic was so terrible that not only was I medicated and couldn’t breast feed, but I couldn’t be left alone with her.
When I say you can cure yourself of anxiety I don’t say that lightly. Four years ago after I had been using the five second rule to change my behavior; how I spoke to my husband, how I negotiate in business meetings, how I conduct sales, the kind of parent that I am, my health habits, my eating habits, curbing the drinking I thought, “I wonder if I can use this; five, four, three, two, one thing to get control of my thought patterns” Not my behavior patterns, my thought patterns, yes you can.
We’re going to build this conversation because I want to start with something that we can all relate to, and that is how do you stop worrying and how do you stop listening to self-doubt, this is how you are going to do it. All day long you are going to have moments where your thoughts drift and I use that word on purpose. Because for me there is a physical sensation when you start to use the five second rule and you start to wake up, not only on time in the morning but you wake up to your life and the opportunities in your life. There is your thoughts drift, like you’ll just be hanging out with your friends and then suddenly you are like, “I’m not sure that that person likes me anymore. I haven’t heard from my kids lately. I wonder if they are dead or I was going to check,” you just start worrying about stuff why? Because it’s a habit.
Because when you are not paying attention your brain shifts from you being a decision maker and paying attention to you just spending things on autopilot and one of your habits is worrying. The second you wake up and you notice, “Holy cow, I’m talking some negative garbage to myself right now,” five, four, three, two, one you’ve just shifted the part of the brain that you are using. You have shifted from the basal ganglia which is where your habit loops are spinning and you have awakened your prefrontal cortex. You’ve also interrupted that pattern.
Now what you are going to do because your mind is actually ready to receive a different thought because of the counting, now you can put in an anchor thought. Like if you have a mantra, if you have a vision about the way that your business is going to turn out in five years. If you just have a thought that makes you really happy and proud insert that. Now why does this work? It works because of the counting and I’m not kidding. We know based on research the positive thinking alone is not effective.
In some instances, trying to force yourself to think positive can actually make the worries worse, why? Well the reason why is because it’s really hard to just change the channel, what we have to do first is basically interrupt it and turn off the TV and then turn it back on with the prefrontal cortex awakened, so the counting is essential. You can start using this today, you catch yourself talking garbage to yourself because we all know if I were to put a speaker on your head and broadcast you wouldn’t be sitting here in the audience; you would be in an insane asylum because the crap that you say to yourself is insane.
The problem is we listen to it, you’ll be in a sales meeting and you’ll be undermining yourself, “They are not going to buy. Oh my gosh, I’m in trouble,” you are not even present; five, four, three, two, one switch it back. Get back to that vision that you have about toasting your success or this customer being really happy or you being proud of yourself. Whatever that vision may be you can control your thoughts and this is not just us talking about it, this is a tool that you can use.
Let’s take it a step further, so worrying if you let it go unchecked what will happen is you will get used to worrying. You will get used to living in a state where you are slightly agitated all the time. Let me talk a little bit about agitation, so what we know based on research is that physically in your body, so physiologically being excited is the exact same thing as being afraid. Let me say that again because it is so important: in your body being excited is the exact same thing as being afraid. Your body doesn’t know the damn difference: your heart races, your armpits sweat, you may get tight in your throat, you may — your cheeks may get pink like mine, do when I get excited.
The only difference between excitement and fear is what your brain says and the problem is if you have a habit of worrying, guess what you are going to tell yourself is going on that you are freaking out. That you are not excited that something must be wrong, oh gosh, why would you say something is wrong because you got a habit of saying that all the time. Even as I became a speaker for a living where I would be on CNN when I first started doing it, I would be freaking out back stage. Even though like just last week he is standing back stage about to go on 8,000 people; heart races, armpits sweat, my hands get clammy. I’m not nervous though not at all. I’m excited, I developed this technique and research out of Harvard not based on my technique but something very similar proofs that if you basically right before you are about to do something; take a test, run a race, pubic speaking, a business negotiation, ask somebody to marry you.
Whatever it may be that gets your heart racing just do this go, “I’m excited. I’m excited to give that speech, I’m excited to ask him or her, I’m excited to do this race, I’m excited.” What happens is you give your brain context so your brain doesn’t escalate the stuff going on in your body, your brain is not worried; makes sense?
TOM BILYEU: Yeah.
MEL ROBBINS: You can combine this with the five second rule. We know how to do worrying, you catch your thoughts through a; five, four, three, two, one anchor thought. If you start to feel your heart racing; five, four, three, two, one to awaken the prefrontal cortex and then start going, “I’m really excited to do this.”
Another technique that you can use is ask. I think they call it interrogatory questions where instead of giving yourself a pep talk say, “Well why I’m, I ready to do this? Why I’m, I am ready?” Because that will force you to answer the question which then convinces you “Why I’m, I ready to close this sale, why I’m I am ready to give this speech, why I’m, I ready?” Those are two strategies that you can use backed by science that are proven to actually make your performance be much better.
Now let’s take it a step further to anxiety. Anxiety is what happens when the habit of worrying spins out of control, your body gets really agitated and then you allow your mind to escalate it into a full blown panic attack. For those of you that have not had the pleasure of having a panic attack let me explain what it’s like. Have you ever been in your car and you are driving down the road and you go to change lanes and then all of a sudden there is like oh my God there is a car right here. You swerve a little bit and then your heart is like and you may sweat a little bit and you grip the wheel really tight and you are super locked in on the road ahead of you. Then that car pulls away and the near miss scenario passes and your mind starts going, “Okay you are all right now; that’s it.” That’s what a panic attack is only it happens while you are standing in front of your coffee pot, seriously.
You have that same, “Oh my God… and your heart’s racing and the problem for your brain is that your brain can’t look around and say, “Holy cow, we almost got hit by a car.” Your brain is saying, “What the hell is wrong with her, she is making coffee and she is freaking out.” So now your brain is the problem because what’s our brain’s job — it’s designed to protect you. Your brain will now do whatever it can to magnify the problem. Remember we talked about the spotlight effect. It will start telling you all kinds of crazy stuff because it can’t figure out contextually, “What the hell is going on, she is just making coffee now her heart is racing and she is breathing really, holy cow maybe she is having a heart attack.” A lot of people that have panic attacks say, “I think I’m dying oh my God what’s happening,” or you see them do the deer in the headlights thing where they got to get out of the room. That is the spotlight effect in your brain now taking control and magnifying everything to get you out of whatever it was.
Here is how you use the second rule. You use it to stabilize your thoughts before the panic escalates. Then what happens is it drifts into worry and then it disappears. The second you feel worry you catch it; you train yourself to do that. If you start feeling yourself getting your heat racing you can; five, four, three, two, one and use the, “I’m excited, I’m excited.” If that doesn’t work literally; five, four, three, two, one and just give yourself an anchor thought literally of you being okay.
I’ll give you another quick example because this is one that we have a tremendous number of success with and people that hear the example use it immediately and are blown away. I used to be terrified of flying, terrified every bump I’d be freaking out. I started using this strategy with the plane, so the second that you feel yourself getting nervous; five, four, three, two, one and then your anchor thought is a vision of what you are going to do when you get to where you are going. When I get on the plane tomorrow to fly back to Boston I’ll think about walking in the house and the place is like a disaster.
It’ll look like everybody’s stuff got loaded into a can and then fired all over the first floor. If we hit turbulence; five, four, three, two, one I’ll think about that vision because cognitively for my brain if I’m walking in the house and it’s a disaster the plane made it that’s the power of this. It’s incredible.
TOM BILYEU: What I love about you Mel is that a, I love how raw and real you are about your own situation which … Because people are going to look at you and the first thing they are going to want to do is make you extraordinary way not to have to live up to your standard, because what you have accomplished really is astonishing and seeing you on stage is unbelievable. You are so good at that and I know that it comes from working your ass off but wow it’s very, very impressive.
MEL ROBBINS: Thank you.
TOM BILYEU: Then that you use techniques like that, you’ve got answers for how have I done this. I’ve done it like this and I’ve had cast sit across to me that that’s not their stake. Like they have done truly extraordinary things with their life but they seem just like totally blind to how they did it. The fact that you can walk people through it is so cool.
MEL ROBBINS: Well I think we are all flawed and that’s the beauty of who you are. Instead of trying to make yourself perfect in every area it’s so much easier when you accept the things that you are terrible at or that are your weaknesses or that are things about your wiring. Look if I were diabetic I would take insulin. I happen to be somebody that’s wired for anxiety no big deal. Figure out how to instead of fighting those things actually trick it, because the truth is that you are never going to feel ready to make these changes. You are never going to feel like doing them but you can always make a decision that’s always in your control. Staying with somebody that treats you like garbage is a decision, it is. Staying at a job that you hate is a decision. Staying in the body that you are not proud of is a decision. Is it going to be easy? No, it’s not going to be easy to change; it’s simple, do a Google search and then use the five second rule to force yourself to do that stuff. Change comes down to five second decisions and this is why the five second rule is important for everybody to know. It’s your job to push yourself and I don’t care if you are Dr Martin Luther King Junior or you are Michelangelo or you are Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote Hamilton, you will struggle with self-doubt.
Everybody that you admire everybody and the list is the same; Oprah Winfrey and I want to be like Tom and I want to be like Branson and I want to be like Jay-Z and I want like… Everybody is listed as a Bill Gates. Do you know what those people do, they do not have the habit of hesitating, they trust themselves.
TOM BILYEU: Now really fast before we go tell us about the million dollar mornings and setting yourself up.
MEL ROBBINS: Yes, I have a gift. Here is the thing. I did one thing other than the five second rule that has changed my life, my marriage everything. I do not have the phone in my bedroom. The phone is designed by people like your phone. you should not have your phone in your bedroom. And here is why, because what’s on your phone is not your dreams. What’s on your phone is stuff that’s been designed by people that studied game theory. You know why you check your email all the time? You know why you are constantly looking at your phone? It’s called random rewards. It’s a psychological principle that explains why we pull slot machines, because every six or seven times we get a little random reward so we keep going back. I know most emails blow but every once in a while you get a good one that’s why you keep looking.
I created this course called The Million Dollar Morning, whether you want to make a million dollars a year or in a morning or whether you want to wake up and feel like a million bucks. This is the science backed strategy step by step for how to wake up because it’s not when you wake up that matters; it’s how you wake up that matters. We filmed it at the house. I walk you through all the science, I show you the whole routine and we’re giving it to your audience for free.
TOM BILYEU: Wow thank you.
MEL ROBBINS: You are welcome, because look I want you to use things. It’s one thing to talk, talk, talk and think it’s another thing to actually take action. The more that you can provide, that I can provide that shows people what to do and the more tools that we can give people to get out of their heads and into action the more the world is going to improve, the more your life will improve.
TOM BILYEU: All right. I get the feeling that this whole time has sort of been answering this question but I’m going to ask it anyway: what’s the impact that you want to have on the world?
MEL ROBBINS: The impact that I want to have is I want to teach people how to discover the power that’s inside of them. To live fully in the open and share themselves; who they are, who they are not like there is so much fear that we live with. I want to teach people how to live with more courage because courage is nothing more than the ability to do things that are uncertain. In today’s world we have the internet, you can literally learn, launch, do anything. The only thing that’s truly stopping you are the limiting patterns that you think: the self-doubt, the fear, the habits that you have and you can break them. You can break them five seconds at a time.
The impact that I want to have is I want to teach people a simple way to discover the power that’s locked inside them and then to unleash it and go out and live the life they’ve always dreamed of.
TOM BILYEU: Awesome Mel, thank you so much,
MEL ROBBINS: I want a hug get over there.
TOM BILYEU: Got it. Guys you are going to want to dive into the very warm waters that are this woman’s world. It is absolutely astonishing. I’m talking raw vulnerability but what I love is no matter how silly some of the things she may say they are, they are incredibly powerful. You will see her community they will reach out, you will see them talking about how they have changed in real time whether it’s stepping back of a ledge and not making a catastrophically bad decision. Whether it’s just truly jumping out of bed and attacking their life, unleashing the power that they have within themselves to live the life they were meant to live, to finally own what they actually want which is something that she really, really encourages everybody to do especially our community. It is unbelievable and you guys will benefit so tremendously from somebody who is able to convey the difference between motivation which is bullshit and action which is real. That is where she has made a name for herself, she is all about action you guys.
Heard it today she breaks things down into the not always easy but the always simple steps and if you follow those steps you will be able to transform your life really in five seconds or less. It’s absolutely breathtaking she backs everything up with science. Mel, where can they find you online?
MEL ROBBINS: Anywhere, just Google Mel Robbins seriously; I’m on Insta, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter, we’re on Snap, we’re on LinkedIn, website is melrobbins.com or email me no joke firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give us a couple of days to respond but we respond so there you go and don’t troll me. Look I’m on CNN, people talk about the turkey neck they write nothing but trashy stuff all the time, so don’t go there. If you write you need help you need more advice and we have so much free content; so many videos, so many articles so just go to melrobbins.com and you’ll find all kinds of cool stuff.
TOM BILYEU: Go check it out guys and have the life that you’ve always wanted.
One more time please help me in thanking this incredible woman with the amazing shoes. Mel, what a pleasure! I’m coming in for one more thank you. All right guys it’s a weekly show, be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends be legendary, take care. Hey everybody thanks so much for joining us for another episode of Impact Theory. If this content is adding value to your life all I want to ask is go to iTunes and Stitcher and rate and review. Not only does that help us build this community which at the end of the day is all we care about, but it also helps us get even more amazing guests on here to share their knowledge with all of us.
Thank you guys so much for being a part of this community and until next time be legendary my friends.