The High Five Habit

In the High Five Habit, Mel Robbins, the author of The 5 Second Rule, shares how a simple habit can change a life. She shares why we shouldn’t apologize so much in the book and what a “high five” does to our brain.

The high five habit involves standing in front of a mirror every morning and high-fiving our reflection. High fiving ourselves gives us the ability to reflect on the positive and avoid being critical of ourselves. Robbins shares it feels a little odd but feels good.

While it can feel a little off to high five ourselves, science backs up the practice. Think about high fives in your life. When did you receive them? What memories do they stir? There was an experiment where kids were given a task and motivated differently. Some were praised for a trait. Others praised for effort. The third and final group celebrated with high fives. The high-fivers were the group that felt the best and kept at it the longest.

Why? Neurobics.  Neurobics combine something familiar—like brushing our teeth—with something unfamiliar, like high-fiving, our brains pay attention and create new neural connections.

So, how to start a high-five habit? Put a note on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. Post-its! Shoot for five days row.

New habits can be challenging because of RAS—the Reticular Activating System. The whole job of RAS is to filter all the information we receive every day. RAS tells our brains to ignore what’s not essential. Wonder why when someone yells your name in public, you stop and pay attention? That’s RAS in action.

Want a reason to be more positive? If negativity is an integral part of your life, RAS will prioritize it.

So, how do we focus on being positive? Focus on being kind to yourself. Focus on supporting yourself. Choose a mantra. For example, “Every day, in every way, I’m stronger and stronger.”

In addition to being positive, be thankful, not apologetic. For example, thank someone for an airport pickup instead of apologizing for the pickup.

In summary, high five yourself, pay attention to RAS, stay positive, and focus on gratitude instead of apologizing.

A Minute to Think

We need space to think.  Space and managing our day are the core concepts of A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work

Being busy is different than being productive.  There’s a state called “performative busyness,” where we feel better when more active.

Part of the need to be busy is self-imposed pressure based on others.  In the book, they share an example from the show Candid Camera.  In it, a bunch of actors in an elevator face the wrong way.  When an unsuspecting person goes into the elevator, they too face the wrong way.  In a work setting, we can mirror this behavior.  If we are in a team where everyone is always on and responding to emails or texts at all hours of the day, we can feel pressure to match this same behavior.

Gallup stated 25% of us feel burnt out.  Deloitte said over 2/3 of us have an “overwhelming” amount of work.  Yet, being more focused and less “on” delivers results.  Microsoft in Japan did a study where employees worked a four-day workweek instead of a five-day workweek.  Productivity went up by 40%.

To perform complex tasks, we use our frontal lobe.  Without breaks, there is a dramatic drop in productivity.  With breaks, our brains are more effective and creative. 

There are four breaks: social, nutritional, relaxation, and cognition based on a Harvard Business School study.  A social break is taking time to talk to someone.  A nutritional break is eating or drinking.  A relaxation break could be taking a walk.  A cognition break is reading something non-work-related.

Our core drives at work are to get information and achieve excellence.  The mistake we make is to shoot for perfection.  If you wonder if you’re a perfectionist, ask if others have said you’re too focused on details or give too much effort to things that aren’t important.

To curb perfectionism, choose projects, problems, and people who deserve focused attention and effort.  Also, avoid distractions like notifications for email or social media, or other platforms. 

Along with avoiding distractions, control your devices instead of letting your devices control you.  Studies show smartphones can make us less productive, and a recent research study stated just having our phone on the table while talking to someone makes that person like us less.

Constantly checking social media or email makes us less productive and not focused on more complex tasks.  We do it because we get a dopamine rush.  So how do we get around this?  Develop habits like having set times to check email or social media.

For communication, effective communicators think about the medium.  The book talks about 2D and 3D communication.  2D is a text or email to get a quick answer.  3D is a live conversation when we need a more complex conversation or outcome.

In summary, busyness is not a badge of honor.  Schedule the day instead of letting the daily schedule you by having focused thinking time, taking breaks, and controlling when you check email or social media. 

Can’t Hurt Me

Can’t Hurt Me.


David Goggins, author of the book, Can’t Hurt Me, is one of the toughest persons ever.

The author’s life reads like a Rocky story.  He grew up with an unbearable father who beat him and his mother, and while they escaped, poverty and racism followed their path.

Growing up, they lived pay-to-pay check; he had a stutter, his hair fell out.  He struggled to read.

He finally decided to do something with his life and joined the Air Force.  His dream was to be pararescue which required a skill he had not learned, swimming.  When his fears got the better of him, he used a test for a predisposition to sickle cell anemia to leave the military.

Life then turned to less than stellar.  He spiraled to 300 pounds living on shakes and donuts and earned a living as an exterminator. 

Then things changed.

One day, he watched a documentary on the Navy SEALS.  It was so inspiring; he decided to give it a shot.  But, there were some setbacks and requirements.  One being he needed to lose 100 pounds to make the qualifying weight to join the SEALS. 

He got on it.  He spent hours on end on an exercise bike, two hours in the pool, and intense circuit training.  When in shape, he added running. 

While there were setbacks, after a few years, he became a SEAL.  Becoming a SEAL turned him on to ultra running.

Goggins became a badass of ultra running and chose to compete in the most outrageous ultra marathons in the country.

For his success, Goggins attributes his 40% rule.  More than half is on the table when we give up after only 40% of our potential effort.  To achieve the remaining balance, we need to continue telling the world, “Can’t Hurt Me.”

The 5 Second Rule

In The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins shares how to stop procrastinating, eliminate worrying, and make dreams a reality.  From waking up to starting a challenging project, count down from five to one and get out of bed or start the project.  While simple, this approach redirects to what we should be doing.  If you need motivation or inspiration to take action, the five-second rule gets you moving.

Further, Robbins uses the five-second rule to compliment a co-worker or make a decision at the moment instead of waiting for the right time.  From the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, to the Fifty Shades of Grey author, the book shares they went from waiting for the right time to taking action.

Instead of focusing on how we feel, the five-second rule focuses on taking action and moving away from distraction.  Smartphones and other devices were created to make us more productive, but because they can provide a convenient distraction, they can have the opposite effect, resulting in destructive procrastination. 

As the book Mindset states, our minds and personalities are flexible.  To get the results you want in life, take action in “five, four, three, two, one.”