When I was a kid, or a younger kid (I still see myself as a kid no matter how much I pretend to be an adult), we had the 5 second rule. The 5 second rule stated that if you dropped food on the ground, as long as you picked up before 5 seconds it was safe to eat. Some people liked to use 3 seconds but it doesn’t matter because if they didn’t make it in 3 seconds, they would just switch to 5. Anyway, I recently figured out that this 5 second rule can be applied to life and the opportunities that come our way.
To demonstrate this rule I will tell you a story about Jack. Jack woke up Saturday morning went for a run, eat breakfast, and headed off to the laundry mat like he did every Saturday. Jack used to do laundry on Sunday but one day he had to go on Saturday. On that Saturday, he saw a girl there. He did not know who she was and has never talked to her but ever since he saw her there he goes on Saturday. He has seen her there for weeks and can never get up the guts to talk to her. So just like every other Saturday, he did his laundry and walked out wondering what could be. A little later that night, Jack went out with some friends to a comedy show. During the show, the host asked for 2 volunteers, a boy and a girl. Jack wanted to do it but he thought that he might embarrass himself. He decided to raise his hand anyway but the host picked the guy next to him who had his hand up first. When the two volunteers got to the stage Jack recognized the girl, it was the girl from the laundry mat. The 2 volunteers had to do an improve comedy act of the worst first date. The two did a great job and had fun doing it. Jake would have loved to been on stage with the girl of his dreams but he missed out. If he followed my 5 second rule of life, this day might have been a lot different.
Basically, my 5 second rule of life states that we have 5 seconds to act on an opportunity before we waste it. We waste our opportunities if we don’t act within the first 5 seconds for 3 reasons:
- The window of opportunity closes.
- Our decision goes from action to thought.
- We waste time.
The two parts of the story that demonstrate these reasons are the girl and Jack volunteering. Jack volunteered to go up on stage but it was too late and the window closed. He missed his opportunity because he didn’t act fast enough. This happens to us much too often in life. We miss opportunities because we do not act fast enough.
Jack didn’t act fast enough because he thought about it, which brings me to my second reason. If you do not act fast enough you think too much and when you think too much you create fear. Jack was afraid that he would get embarrassed or look stupid on stage but if he followed the 5 second rule he would have not been thinking about that.
The same goes for his situation with the girl of his dreams. The first time he went to the laundry mat he should have gone up to her within the first 5 seconds of seeing her. Since he did not, he had too much time to think. Think about whether or not she would like him, if she had a boyfriend, what if she didn’t want to be bothered, or any other excuse that made him scared to go up to her. How many times have you created fear by thinking too much resulting in missing an opportunity? The brain complicates everything but my rule takes the brain out of the equation.
The last reason can also be seen with the girl, because no matter what Jack does he wasted time. Let’s say he does go up to her one day. Yes, that means he did not miss the opportunity, which could easily happen if she moves before he talks to her, but he wasted time. He wasted all those weeks of interacting with her by not doing it in the first 5 seconds. What if she made his life great? Then he wasted time of having a great life and you know how I feel about wasting time.
The point of all of this is that when an opportunity comes our way we have to act upon it almost impulsively. It might not turn out the best every time but the time is does, it can turn into a life changing opportunity.
So from now on, I am going to follow my 5 second rule of life so that my window of opportunity doesn’t close, my mind doesn’t get in the way and make me scared, and I don’t waste time. Are you going to follow the 5 second rule? Have you ever acted on an opportunity right away and had it turn out great?