5 Seconds To Change Anything

Why It Starts In The Morning And How To Make It Happen

Your alarm rings. You reach over and hit the snooze button. Repeat(edly). Is this you? According to Sleep Review, that’s the case for over half of you reading this post.

In their 2014 survey they found that 57% of Americans (and 70% of Brits) were snoozers, admit to staying in bed more than 5 minutes every morning and were still tired when they finally woke up.

Prior to 2013, that would have described me in the morning.  Not anymore.

Because I had been a serious life-long snooze-button-hitter up to that time (often 30 minutes), deciding to change was daunting.   I think it gave me an idea of what it must be like for a smoker when he or she decides to quit- a little bit of nervous excitement and a lot of fear…..of failing yet again.

You Snooze, You Lose

The motivation to make a switch came after reading the chapter in Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book Buried Treasure entitled “The Dangers of the Snooze Button” .  There’s a lot there and the two realities that struck me the most about hitting the snooze button were that we:

  • make our first action of the day to procrastinate.
  • limit our day by surrendering to our physical desires.


To my surprise, I was successfully made the change from hitting the snooze button to jumping out of bed immediately from day 1. It was much easier than I thought and I’ve only hit my snooze button twice in the last 3.5 yrs.

I hadn’t thought too much about why I was successful with it and failed all the other times until l read Mel Robbins’ book “The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.” I saw right away that I had used the 5 Second Rule without knowing what it was, which shows how simple and effective it can be.  The other good news is that works with about anything we want to take action on or change in our life. Jumping out of bed first thing in the morning is a good place to start.

What’s the 5 Second Rule?

Simply this: the moment the time comes or you have an instinct to act on a goal or item, you count backwards “5-4-3-2-1” and then move.  Both counting as well as moving are critical.  Counting backwards (forward doesn’t work) interrupts your default self-preservation and pleasure mode of thinking and opens a channel for your mind to think in a different direction. When you couple backward counting with movement your physiology changes, your mind falls in line and you get the activation energy you need to make things that are tough for you happen.

Unlike planning and contemplative executive decision making, our decision to buy as well as act in the moment are driven predominately by emotion and not cognition. In fact, once you’ve planned and decided to do something courageous or difficult, thinking about it more when it comes time to take action makes it less likely you’ll actually do it! Instead, you’ll hesitate, have just enough time to go into flight, fight, faint or freeze mode which then gives your brain enough time to think of a million ways to justify not doing it (i.e. make excuses).  It’s the kiss of death to change efforts.

How Does It work?

There are over 10 cognitive behavioral principles related to change that are leveraged in some for or fashion for any change effort to be successful. If you want the detail, Mel Robbins’ blog does a great job of elucidating these change principles with brief text and diagrams as well as a video if you have time to watch.  The great thing about the 5 Second Rule is that it’s a simple, single technique that impacts all of these. In essence, it’s a “starting ritual” that allows us to leverage our neurophysiology in a way that serves instead of sabotages our own best interests.

The Reward

Here are two other beautiful things about the 5 Second Rule:

  • Repeat it often enough and your change efforts become habit, so no more backward counting to get off the dime.
  • It has an overflow effect and begins to show up almost automatically in other areas you hadn’t thought of as well as when you need to take action most.

Using the 5-second rule first thing in the morning can help you overcome the resistance that holds you in bed and that holds you back in the other moments that matter most.

We all have our own “Why’s” for what we want to change. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan gave us the What. The 5 Second Rule gives the “How” to get moving. And while the Rule doesn’t necessarily make things easy, it does make things happen. Especially first thing in the morning, which is a great place to start.

If you used the 5-second rule to pop out of bed tomorrow morning, how much more time and energy would you gain?  If you’re one of the ~25% who don’t hit the snooze button at all, what’s your greatest challenge or opportunity to leverage the Rule with?

Please leave a comment and let me know how it’s going for you….count backward from 5 if you need to.

3 Steps To Shift From Your Drama Back To Presence

"Shift Moves"...You Can Use!

I remember as a physical therapist getting energized after learning key signs and symptoms to classify and treat a disorder using a matched, highly effective intervention technique.  It was a pretty empowering feeling…..until the first time I went through the process with a real patient; then it felt pretty clunky the first few times.

Whether it’s physical therapy, coaching, accounting, or any other field, learning new tools and approaches can be difficult and frustrating initially.  This is where having a practical framework for action is invaluable to trim the learning curve and help you go higher, farther and faster.

Managing yourself and learning to shift from Drama back to Presence is no different. The issue isn’t will you drift or how often. You will Drift, that’s a given. The real issue is how quickly can you can shift to Presence once you do Drift.

Shifting from Drift and Drama back to Presence only becomes possible when you arrive at the “Choice Point”.   The “Choice Point” in a given circumstances is the magical moment when you’ve had enough pain and get a glimpse of your reality. It’s that inkling of awareness that tells you shifting from the roles of the DDT to the Orientation of the TED will serve your best interests the best interests of those around you. It usually starts with moving from a Victim role to a Creator Orientation. You change the way you see yourself and the way you see others; not so you can change them, but so you can change yourself.  How do you practically…..I mean nuts and bolts….do that?

Here are the 3 Steps to Shift from Drift to Presence:

  • First – tell yourself the full truth about your current reality. This could be yourself, your situation, someone else or a combination of these.  Don’t deny, minimize or rationalize it away; don’t make it any better….or worse…than it really is. In other words, take life as it is, not as you want it to be.   It’s simple, yet often hard and sometimes scary to do.  This is the hardest step, yet once you take it you become grounded and know where your working from.0505 ShiftPresence II

Taking the first step sometimes requires a “jolt” or interruption of your system. This may come from others but there are some ways to “jolt’ yourself, which include: focused breathing, cultivating curiosity, asking yourself powerful questions (i.e. “where is that coming from?”) and simply exaggerating or changing posture are a few.

  • Second- this is critical: instead of dwelling or obsessing on what you don’t want, decide and focus on what you really do want for yourself, others or the situation.
  • Third- determine the next immediate baby action step you need to take to move in that direction.  A baby step is simply an incremental act that inches you just a bit closer to what you really want.  It’s also something only you can do and is 100% within your control…even if it’s simply choosing your attitude.

The crazy thing is that when you shift, it not only gets you out of the DDT and into TED, but it seems to send an open invitation to the twin sisters of sisters of Synchronicity and Serendipity: unpredictable and spontaneous events and/or people that just seem to “happen” or “show up” when you need it most.  Just like after taking the first step to Shift, the following steps to who you really want to be and where you really want to go come much easier and faster.

We all drift from presence and must consciously “Shift” to get back to it. When you Drift, how do you Shift?

Heaven knows we all need more Shift and less Drift so please leave a comment and share some of your own “Shift Moves.”

3 C’s You Need To Transform Your Leadership Presence And Influence

The Empowerment Dynamic (TED)....Get Some!

Have you ever fantasized or had the fleeting thought of how great it would be if you could “wish” and make your problems…especially problem people… go away? I think most of us have at one time or another. It’s clearly delusional and a waste of time to just wish.  What if you could actually transform things instead?

The reality is that we can transform the biggest problem people that repeatedly show up in our lives. It’s not only possible, it’s also entirely within your control because those “people” are you!  Well, not exactly but almost. To be more specific, they’re the three characters of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) that you manifest once you drift from “Presence” and on to the DDT .  Remember, Presence is about being real, authentic and engaged in the moment; you’re both being and moving in concert with what is happening.

David Emerald puts a twist on Karpman’s DDT in the The Power of TED: The Empowerment Dynamic (TED).  TED is a great short story that is easy to identify with.  It’s a short and entertaining read; I highly recommend it.  After reading it you’ll be much more aware and feel much more more empowered.

While the simple reality of being able to transform any one of the troublesome DDT characters is awesome, I found there was small but significant problem the first time I actually tried to do it: I realized I really didn’t want to transform.  That’s right…I knew transformation was in my best interest but hey, siting in my “right to be right” felt too good at the time. That reminded me of two truths:

  1. Just because something feels good to us doesn’t mean it’s good for us.
  2. Just because something is simple to do doesn’t mean it is easy to do.

Given that we know what we want to transform out of (the DDT), what is it that we want to transform into?  When we make an intentional shift from Drift to Presence we can transform and show-up for ourselves as one of these 3 empowering characters:

  • Creator- The central role of TED and antidote to the Victim. Unlike the Victim, the creator still faces 0504 3CsPresence IIand solves problems and does so by taking 100% responsibility (no more or less). The Creator taps into his or her inner passion to create the outcomes they desire instead of reacting to what they don’t want.
  • Challenger- The antidote to the Villain. Instead of provoking a reaction from a Victim, the Challenger serves Creators as a catalyst for change, learning and growth.  A Challenger can be a person, condition or circumstance. The crazy thing is that a Challenger often shows up in unexpected forms and often at the most inconvenient and un-welcomed times.
  • Coach- The antidote to the Hero. Instead of reinforcing a powerless Victim, the Coach sees each person as a Creator in their own right. The Coach seeks to support Creators in their pursuits by working with them to identify current realities, clarify envisioned outcomes, and how they can bridge the gap between the two.

I have found that just about everybody can identify with the 3 “Problem People” of the DDT. Likewise, most can they identify with the “3 C’s” of TED.  While no model is perfect, everyone can use the TED model to help them shift from Drift and back toward what who they really want to be and what they really want to do for themselves and others.  The TED model is also a powerful tool and antidote that Leaders can leverage in order to counteract the natural pull of the DDT to maximize their presence and influence.

What problems are you wishing….or maybe even fantasizing….would just go away? How’s that been working for you so far?  What current leadership roles do are you responsible for where you need to shift from being on DDT and into the TED model? How would shifting serve your best interests as well as those you lead?

As you consider the questions above, the other thing to consider is whether you really want to transform at all. If you’re honest with yourself, you may find that you prefer to just settle for where your at. Yes, it may feel good in a sick sort of way to stay stuck….I get it. My friend Darryl Lyons gets a little more graphic: he  liken’s that state to a baby wanting to stay in his or her warm, full diaper (gross, I know, but it does make the point).  If that’s you right now then just own it and remind yourself of the simple truth #1 listed above.

On the other hand, if or when you’re ready to transform, then your going to need to Shift. Shifting will require some shift moves, which is where were going next so stay tuned!

Please leave a comment or share part of your own story.

Your Three Biggest Problem People

Who They Are and How They Show-up For You

When you think of the biggest problem people in your life, which faces immediately come to mind?  I bet there are several. I’m also be willing to bet that your face isn’t among them. Unfortunately, that is exactly the face you need to hold in mind….almost. The real issue is that you don’t just have one problem face; you have three. In fact, we all do.

Stick with me here because our effectiveness in work and life can greatly affected by these three faces or characters that repeatedly show-up for us if we let them.  In addition to their persistence, our ability to recognize their presence is challenging.  Once we do recognize and become aware, we can do something about “them.”

Although I was familiar with David Karpman’s theoretical work related to the 3 characters of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), I really hadn’t considered or seen any real applied use of it.  However my good friend and creative, collaborative partner Daphne Scott has done a masterful job of putting legs to the DDT model and has made it real.

I had the opportunity to watch Daphne at work this past weekend when she taught a couple of hundred people at Breakthrough PT how they Drift from “Presence” and how they can quickly “Shift” back again. In a few short hours everyone in this group not only had an awareness of the concept, but also learned to embody some practical tools around it as well.   It’s really pretty simple. But like many simple things, it’s hard to actually do in the moment.

One reason I think it’s hard is because  the central premise in the DDT is that YOU are the biggest problem person in your life. And the problems begin when you shift from “Presence” to “Drama”.  Presence is about being real, authentic and engaged in the moment; you’re both being and moving in concert with what is happening. Drama, on the other hand, is when you take more or less than 100% responsibility with any given person or situation………once you do that you’ve shifted onto the DDT.

How do you know when you’re taking more or less than 100% responsibility? If your blaming, judging, criticizing, complaining, demanding to be right, justifying worrying or being self-righteous, you can rest assured your “there”. A lot more can be added here, but everyone can identify with this short list (and if you can’t, then your self-denying so welcome to the club!).

When your on the DDT and you take a look in the mirror, what will you see?  Answer: one of the following three characters.  Here is a brief profile for each:

  • Victim– Avoids taking responsibility and deny’s or diminishes personal power or agency and is 0503 DramaTriangle IIalways at the mercy of someone, some thing or some situation. Sounds terrible, but there are some special benefits enjoyed by the Victim, like extra attention and having someone else “fix” the problem.
  • Villain– Avoids real awareness by focusing on a single, convenient answer. Whether the scapegoat is you or someone else, the key is that the Villain gets to decide. Some benefits here are being able to avoid realities that can be troubling, keeping the focus where you want it to be, and satisfaction in being “right.”
  • Hero– No, this Hero isn’t a good. Like the other two characters in this Drama, the focus is external versus internal where it belongs. The Hero seeks to control, change and achieve solutions that simply make the pain or problem go away regardless of whether a best interest is being served.  While the Hero may look better that the other two characters, he/she can only exist when the other two are present! Strangely, the Hero quickly morphs into a Victim when their “helping” efforts are rebuffed or aren’t appreciated and then assumes the role of the Villain when responding out of anger or getting back.

While no model is perfect, I have found that just about everybody can identify with the 3 “Problem People” of the DDT. Everyone loses touch with authenticity and drifts from “Presence” from time to time. The goal is to grow in our awareness, drift less often and when we do drift get quickly back to presence.

What triggers you and what character shows up most often when you drift? While awareness here is the critical 1st step, perhaps the more important question is how to Shift back to 100% responsibility when drift does occur. That’s where we’re going soon, so stay tuned.

Please leave a comment (no drama allowed  🙂 ).


7 Action Steps To Get Off And Stay Off The Hedonic Treadmill

I think Henry Cloud hit the nail on the head the wrote the following in his book The Law of Happiness: How Spiritual Wisdom and Modern Science Can Change Your Life– “We are wired to experience happiness, but we keep hitting the wrong buttons in our efforts to turn our happiness on.”  Simply put, humans are created and wired in such a way that when properly “turned on,” they get happier!

The good news is that the “wiring” is something we can get a grip on, and includes our physiology, psychology, emotions and spirit.  The other news? We  often don’t know where the buttons are. Instead of intelligently looking for them, we just keep pushing the wrong ones, hoping happiness will be a click away.

I’m not sure of the exact moment I first experienced the hedonic treadmill effect, but it was early on in life and I knew I didn’t like how it felt.  Given society’s material bent coupled with our natural desire to always be wanting more, next, or new, just about everyone has experienced “Hedonic Treadmill fatigue” at some point in their life. What about you?

The real question is how do you get off that treadmill….and stay off?

More good news: there are plenty of powerful, evidenced-based practices and “hacks” to help you get off.  Even better, once integrated into your life, these practices bring the very happiness and fulfillment most of us were looking to the treadmill for in the first place. The other news? Tw0396 HappyButtonIIo things are required on your part: 1. shift your mindset and 2. you gotta go do something!

For the first four, I’ll go “old school” and look at what the ancients were saying back in the day (the Stoics, of all people):

  • Ask “What’s the worst that could happen?”- It takes effort, but doing this helps you put things into perspective very quickly.  Is what your experiencing really that bad? Most times not.  Thinking about how it would be to lose the people and relationships you love most can dial you back to reality in a hurry. It also makes you more appreciative…and happier.
  • Do “as if”- Be determined to work on your emotional fitness. When your negative emotions begin to dominate you (especially anger), think of how you want to be instead and start acting that way on the outside; often, the inside soon follows.
  • Make it a treat- Intentionally go without something you like for a short time. Denying yourself  makes you appreciate it more once you have it again. This works just as well when done by choice instead of out of need or necessity. It also builds self-discipline and will-power, which practiced long enough can become a sustainable habit.
  • Forgive yourself- Yes, you are human and will fail at times.  When you start “should-ing” on your self or are getting pummeled without mercy by your inner Ronda Rousey, make a mental shift. View life as a process and events as “mini experiments” and not as something that’s pass/fail.  Take the long-view and focus on what you’re learning instead.

The next 3 come from contemporary research:

  • Ask “What’s the best version of me”- You’ll have to set aside some time and give it intentional thought, but this one is worth it….both for you and everyone else.  One of the best ways to do it is simply imagine yourself 10, 20, or 30 years in the future as if all your goals have been accomplished. If someone were video taping your life and playing back for you, what would be seeing? Once done the pay-off can be huge as you gain clarity on what you value, what’s missing and where you want to go with your life.
  • Make your experience new, different and surprising- Hey, the reality is that we adapt to just about everything (and everyone) in our life start  taking the familiar for granted. It’s just a fact of life and can serve us well at times. When that process isn’t serving you so well, then a little tweak is often all it takes to get the spark, novelty and enjoyment back.  In addition,  adding a little spice in the way of gratitude and savoring can also work magic.
  • Ask “What would I do if this were my last month?”- Jolt your system to full attention by asking yourself this question when faced with a decision to do something. In addition to perspective, you gain inner motivation that can fuel you to get off your rear and actually do something.   To me, this is a version of Andy Stanley’s “best question ever”, or “what is the wise thing to do?”  Even if you can’t get into thinking its’ your last month, the reality is that you do have a terminal appointment and the number of marbles you have left is limited; go ahead and use that fact to your advantage now.

While the 7 action steps listed here can get you off that dreaded treadmill, there are many more.  Next, I’ll list ones that are more distinctly spiritual,  which  Dr. Cloud expounds on in his book on Happiness. Like the 7 listed here, contemporary research supports these also and the scriptures have been telling us about them for a long, long time.

How would you rate your happiness factor on a scale of 0 – 10?  If it’s less than you want it to be, what’s the next best step you’ll commit to taking in order to make some forward progress?

It’s a journey for everyone so please leave a comment and let me know how it is or isn’t coming along for you.