“TAKE 5” – A Training Tip

14 Feb

Have you ever been running late for a meeting and felt stressed?  You started rehearsing excuses for your tardiness, blaming it on traffic, stoplights, a slow elevator, a blabby client, cats, dogs, kids or garbage trucks?  By the time you get to the meeting you’re not only late, you’re a blathering idiot?  Or maybe you received a stupid, abrupt, inaccurate email and before you stopped to consider the consequences you fired back an equally stupid, abrupt inaccurate response and cc’d a half dozen people.  Generally speaking, these are not great ways to demonstrate your superior intelligence and capabilities.

I could go into all the brain science as to why we become blathering idiots or irrational email participants, but I won’t in this blog.  My focus today is on a relatively simple activity to help you avert such childish, career-limiting behavior.

TAKE 5 is an exercise designed specifically to help you redirect your attention in the moment or “think on your feet”.   Its entire purpose is to pull you out of an emotional tailspin so you can engage your thinking brain in a situation where your emotional center is about to win the battle of “who’s in charge.”

This process is very simple and very effective.  Whether you are alone or with others, this technique will create an effective and helpful pattern interrupt. (A pattern interrupt is anything that interrupts your unhealthy pattern of thought and allows you to look for an alternative path.)

Here’s how it works:  you’re about to do something you won’t be proud of later…

STOP! Ask yourself…

Will this (situation) matter in:

  • 5 years?         If yes, seriously? Why?  Be specific.
  • 5 months?     If yes, really? Why?  Be specific.
  • 5 weeks?        If yes, how?  Be specific.
  • 5 days?           If yes, how?  Be specific.
  • 5 hours?         If yes, can you change it?  Be specific.
  • 5 minutes?     If yes, you now have perspective about how much energy you should put into it!

 Seriously, you have to ask and answer all the question to fully engage your brain…this is not rhetorical.  The idea is to provide perspective. The emotional part of your brain might be trying to convince you that this situation requires extreme, immediate action.  If the thinking part of your brain is allowed to participate – it will probably provide appropriate perspective, thus avoiding behaviors you might later regret.  Realistic, receiving a stupid, abrupt, inaccurate email might deserve 5 – 10 minutes of your precious time.  If you react badly it could turn into a 5-day or 5-year problem!  So, TAKE 5, before you respond!



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