Summary of 5 Gears by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of 5 Gears by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram

Trying to find balance in the modern world often sounds much easier than it is done. Everyone works hard that slowing down to spend time with your loved ones takes much more time than we have available. This usually means that some areas in your life might be neglected as you try to juggle it all. But what if there were a way for you to do it all and do it well? According to the authors, it’s not about time management but rather deciding which ‘gear’ you need to be operating on. 

Not only will knowledge of the 5 gears help you function optimally in every situation, but it will also teach you to be mindful in everything that you do. 

In this book summary readers will be guided through:

  • First gear
  • Second gear
  • Third gear
  • Fourth Gear
  • Fifth gear
  • Reverse
  • The five circles of influence

Key lesson one: First gear

The first gear is one that deals with personal recharge. Often, people are running on empty – or at least, very close to empty. This is why burnout is such a common occurrence. Everyone needs to take the time to recharge and this is where the first gear comes in. To do this properly, you need to feel energetic when you are done. Most people think that hiding from work or binge-watching a television series counts as taking time out. But how often do they feel tired and resentful when they have to get back to work?

This is why you need to utilise your first gear. This is the foundation for all other gears. How can you do anything else properly when you are not at your best? The way in which you recharge is totally dependent on the individual. Everyone is different and what works for some may not for others. Introverts might enjoy time alone while extroverts might want to spend time with others. It is up to you to decide what replenishes your spirit and leaves you feeling revitalised. 

The most important thing about the first gear is that you should remember to be in this gear first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Just like a manual transmission car that gets moving, you have to start in first gear before you get to the others and when you have to stop again, you get back to first gear. 

Key lesson two: Second gear

The second gear is the one we should use when we are building relationships with those closest to us or those who we wish to be close to in the future. This gear is important and should be the gear in which we are completely present and dedicated to strengthening bonds to bring about personal growth, and an inspired and peaceful mind. 

Many people think they are in second gear when they are not. They spend time with their friends, but their minds may be focused on work. Or they might be at home with their family, but actually on their phones or still working on their laptops. For the second gear to work efficiently, everyone present has to be in the same gear. Thus, it is best to eliminate distractions that force you to switch gears. You can do this by switching off electronic devices during family time. It will take a bit of practice before everyone can get into the idea of being in second gear at the same time. But try not to force it, it will happen eventually, you just have to have a bit of patience and there is no harm in shifting into first or third gear if necessary.

Key lesson three: Third gear

Third gear is somewhat similar to second gear. However, it pertains to informal socializing with both people in your personal and professional life. This gear is all about getting to know people and building relationships in a social setting. Third gear is the method employed by companies that host networking events or golf days for clients and staff members. It’s in these situations that everyone gets to know each other and clients decide they want to work with the company. 

However, many people feel uncomfortable in third gear situations like this. Why? Well, people can have varying personalities, interests and opinions that may differ greatly from our own. But, if you take the time to engage with others and show interest, you may be able to identify new opportunities and even find out that you may have some things in common. This is why you should always try out the third gear in social situations. You never know what you may discover. It might be worth adding though, that you can’t stay in third gear forever – no matter how much fun you are having. There will come a time when you have to shift to the second gear to truly develop relationships.

Key lesson four: Fourth Gear

Most people function in fourth gear all the time. This comes as no surprise as the fourth gear is actually the most productive one. However, the downside is, the longer you stay in fourth gear, the higher your chances of burning out. And this is something we all know too well. After all, when we are working through our long lists of tasks for the day, the list very rarely gets shorter as there is always something else that comes up. Why do think most people are exhausted at the end of the day?

A good way to think of it was proposed by Dr Jarrod Spencer. He says that the mind is like a computer and all day long we have multiple tabs open. At the end of the day, we have to close the tabs, along with any documents and files that are open. However, if we’re constantly opening new tabs without closing the old ones, it becomes impossible to shut down. This is why some people can’t stop thinking about work when they get home or have issues sleeping at night. 

Thus, it is important that you know how to use the fourth gear and when to shift into others. You should not aim to start your day in fourth gear nor should it be the gear you end your day in. You have to build up to this gear during the day. If you master this shift, you will find yourself working optimally in this gear and making the most out of it. It is the most productive gear for a reason!

Key lesson five: Fifth gear

The fifth gear is the one you experience when you are solely focused on one task. Do you know that feeling of being in the zone and not noticing how time passes? That’s the fifth gear at work. Your passion and skills are what drives this gear and what makes thing happen quickly and accurately.

Fifth gear is extremely useful but can cause you to miss opportunities because you are only focusing on the task at hand. Another common problem with the fifth gear is that it does not allow you to communicate with others. If you are busy with a task and someone walks into your office, you might feel a bit annoyed because they interrupt your concentration. Therefore, it is crucial that you use the fifth gear correctly. Ensure that if you are switching up to this gear, you will not be interrupted. Tell people that you are busy or block out the time on your calendar. This will allow you to work in fifth gear for that time and accomplish your tasks.

Key lesson six: Reverse

As much as the 5 gears account for the different levels we should be operating at, sometimes it is worth knowing when to put yourself in reverse and apologize for any mishaps along the way. This allows you to take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes. Maybe you were working in the wrong gear and took out your frustration on a colleague – it won’t hurt to reverse and say sorry. It will actually make you a person who people want to work with. 

People who respond in this manner also find it easier to change direction when need be and find solutions instead of avoiding problems. Know when you are wrong and need to reverse and don’t be afraid to do it.  It is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Key lesson seven: The five circles of influence

The key to the 5 gears is knowing when to use them. Of course, this will take a bit of practice to get right. You have to understand which situation requires which gear. The authors describe the five circles of influence that people move between. These are self, family, team, organization and community. To determine which gear you need to use you have to be conscious of which circle you are in at every moment. For example, family requires second and third gear whereas self-focus requires first or fifth gear.

The most important part of this process is knowing yourself. Try to figure out which gears you use the most – you can even sort them from most to least used. The more you go through this process, the more you can determine what you need to change and which gears need to be used when. Once you are conscious of this, you can start making plans as to how to ensure you are in the correct gear for the situation you are in. 

The key takeaway from 5 Gears is:

Everyone does their best to establish some sort of balance in their lives but it is not easy. The concept of 5 gears helps us understand that we should be in different states of mind for different situations but always fully present. The more we understand this concept, the better we can work to maintain our work-life balance and avoid burnout. 

How can I implement the lessons learned in 5 Gears:

Take a step by step approach to applying the 5 gears to your daily routine. Always ensure that you begin and end your day in first gear. Then, evaluate your day, who will you be interacting with, what are the tasks or projects that you are working on? This will help you decide which gear you need to be in and when. You can make preparations accordingly like blocking out time when you are in fifth gear so you will not be disturbed or turning off electronic devices when you want to be fully present in second gear. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more productive you will be in all areas of your life.

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