Mel Robbins’ 5-Second Rule in Real Life and On Stage with Marisel Polizzo

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When Corona, California’s Marisel Polizzo came to Keller Williams’ Family Reunion this year, she probably didn’t think that she’d have a lasting impression on 10,000+ people. After all, as a dual career agent in the business for a little over a year, it was her first Family Reunion to attend. And when her Team Leader made it possible for her to make payments on the ticket because she knew it would be impactful on Marisel, the Team Leader likely had no idea how many people would benefit from Marisel’s participation in the event.

But then, Mel Robbins’ keynote happened.

Podcaster and motivational speaker Mel Robbins has made it her mission to help others face their fears and challenges head on. And at Family Reunion, when Mel roamed the audience during her presentation looking for the perfect person to take through an exercise in front of the packed-room, she walked right up to Marisel.

Marisel’s first reaction? A flat-out refusal to participate. She was terrified. Mortified. And shaking like a leaf. But this was a segment on overcoming fear and Mel Robbins wouldn’t take no for an answer. Mel explained 5-Second Rule, her process of counting backward from 5. The simplest explanation of it is that once you get to the number one, you just do the thing you’re thinking about. You’ve already made the decision to do it. You take action when you reach the number one.

For Marisel, the exercise involved taking and opening three separate envelopes containing instructions from Mel. The first envelope: directed Marisel to go on stage. And as she shared with us, while terrified to carry out the first set of instructions, she also didn’t want to disappoint Mel or anyone else in the room. So, she counted down from 5 to 1 and made the decision to follow Mel onto the stage. Make no mistake, her fear wasn’t gone. Her feet didn’t want to move and she started thinking about all the reasons she shouldn’t do it. But – with the countdown, she had already made the decision and commitment to go – so off she went.

Once she got up onto the stage, Marisel felt her anxiety slightly decrease. Mel’s talk distracted her, a big hug comforted her, and while her fear was legitimate, she recognized that because she was getting through the hard thing, maybe it wasn’t as bad as she initially thought. At that point, Mel handed her another envelope to open.

Inside the second envelope were instructions for Marisel to sing a favorite song. Admittedly, this is probably a terrifying request for anyone that isn’t a willing participant on The Voice or American Idol. Sing a song in front of a room packed with people? Cue the panic. Luckily Mel had a plan. In a crowd that large, surely someone would be celebrating a birthday that day. So, they again counted backward from 5 and Marisel, with the help of the room, sang happy birthday to the birthday celebraters.

Interestingly, Marisel found during her time with Mel that as she started doing each of the actions, her fear level went down. She recognized she could do hard things, nothing bad happened to her when she did them, and she was more inclined to continue doing them as a result. In other words, her transformation was happening in real time: Marisel was seeing the positive benefits of facing her fears.

It was time for envelope #3. This one – rewarded her with a free admission to Family Reunion next year. Her realization? Thoughts can paralyze you with fear, but taking action to push to the other side can reward you.

Marisel’s journey to this moment didn’t start at Family Reunion. Marisel has been doing the hard work to push through fear for years.

On a challenging life journey that has involved everything from a son with an autoimmune disease, an abusive relationship, a long-term sickness that both left her bedridden and required twelve serious surgeries, Marisel has had to rebuild her life from the ground up. When she sat in the audience at Mel’s keynote and heard Mel talk about her own experiences, it resonated. Mel said sometimes getting out of bed takes the most courage. And Marisel found these words to be true.

However, she also reflected that when you’re faced with tremendous hardships, you have two paths to take: either stop believing or believe harder. And Marisel chose to believe harder. While different fears and anxieties come to us at different times in our lives, moving through this fear is where the trajectory of our lives can change. And from her brief moment on stage, she found that the impact that she has had on others – and the compassion, empathy, and support she’s received in return – has transformed her more than she would have ever expected.

When you accept the challenge to face your fears, you learn that you are in control of changing your life’s path for the better. And that 5-second lesson is worth a lifetime of future success.

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