Mel Robbins says if you can count, you can change

Watching Mel Robbins take the stage last week at the Energetic Women’s Conference in Indianapolis was like seeing a rock star on the final leg of her tour.

(She’ll be going off the road as she heads into production for her syndicated daytime talk show which airs this fall.)

You probably know of Mel from her TEDx talk (which she refers to as a “21 minute long panic attack”). Maybe you listened to her on the radio for years, have seen her bestselling book, The 5 Second Rule, and if you drove through Lincoln Tunnel last year, might have seen her leaping into the air on a billboard for Audible.

She strolled onto the stage in her sparkly sneakers, hot pink jacket, t-shirt, and famous black frame glasses. And she did not “give a talk.” I hate when people just “give a talk.”

She talked to us. Moved us. She was on fire, but very much in control, unapologetic, loose as a goose. You know this isn’t the first time she’s done this, yet it feels fresh and happening before your eyes.

To me, that is the high water mark for presence.

We first met when I was a magazine editor in Boston. She had a prominent feature in Boston magazine and my editor said, “Go meet this woman. See what she’s up to.” I was glad I did, and liked her instantly.

So I was thrilled when I saw that she was on the bill at the Energetic Women’s Conference in Indianapolis where I was also scheduled to speak.

Her opening line: “How long does it take to change your life?”

Not long, as it turns out. Or, not as long as you think. “We’re all one decision away from a better life.”

You think she’s going to tell you how to be more productive. But this is also about mental health. Mel suffered chronic and debilitating anxiety for years and years. She has struggled, like all of us, to get out of bed or make sense of her life.

Our problem, she says, is that we go on autopilot and don’t apply the courage required to make one new turn off the same old road—and we wonder why nothing changes.

The 5 Second Rule is simply this: Whenever you’re faced with a decision, a choice that determines whether you: stay in bed or get up, stay silent or raise your hand, take a risk rather than stay stuck, count down from 5 and then move into action.

It’s easier to do what you’ve always done. Easier to let someone else do it. Easier to be angry than afraid. Oh boy do I know that.

Like the 5-second rule, being unapologetic is a choice. And it’s one Mel Robbins takes, every time.

People describe her as “authentic.” We throw that term around a lot.

All it means is “of undisputed origin; genuine.” You are who you are, is what that means. And there are plenty of truly authentic assholes.

What I THINK we mean when we say authentic is a personality or attribute that’s likable, relatable real. And that’s Mel. To me, that’s what everyone wants their brand to be, but is it?

If you really want to be authentic, you have to be willing to walk your talk. If you don’t, how do you expect anyone else to?

Everyone left the room after Mel spoke feeling lighter and brighter, counting down from 5, ready for our lives to begin in earnest.

How are you spurring others to action?

How are you compelling—not advising, not informing—people to do or be or choose differently? Because if you’re not doing that, then why not?

Where can you break the script, take a new turn, and apply the courage it takes to stand out?