This is a comprehensive summary of the book The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski.
Worksheet: Download the interactive sheet for taking notes.
The Book In Three Or More Sentences:
Beneath the story about three strangers who wear clothes with cheesy slogans on them and crave becoming world-class for unknown reasons hides a simple message: get up at 5 am. In essence, the 5 AM Club is a collection of widely popular quotes connected by a tasteless soap-opera-like fairytale that will make you want to punch someone in the face – most probably the author, Robin Sharma, for writing this.
The Core Idea:
We’re slowly turning into a mob of cyber-zombies who crave more. If you want to become a true needle-mover, a world-changed, as the author loves to say in the book, you should not only be less interested in your social media following, but also schedule more time for yourself so you can get better at your craft. And since our lives are overpopulated with stuff to do, Sharma’s solution for having enough time to pursue our true desires – which could have been said in around 30 pages, instead of 332 – is to get up at 5 AM and perform a short set of routines.
- Get up early in the morning – preferably at 5 AM – if you want to elevate your life.
- Don’t allow your obsession to detail ruin your life. Adopt healthy perfectionism.
- You can’t become legendary if you don’t schedule time where you do deep focused work.
The 5 Key Lessons from The 5 AM Club
Lesson #1: Become More Interested In Others
A lot of people think that being active on social media is a social act, a noble act. You share stuff online and you think that you’re somehow improving the lives of the ones listening/watching.
But is it really like this?
In most of the cases, like in 99% of them, we share stuff to nudge our own ego. For instance, we don’t expose our new car to tell people that there is a new Tesla model. We do it to signal to others that we’re better than them and to hopefully receive some of praise from our beloved audience. As you can imagine, by looking it from the side of egoism, we can quickly realize that this type of socialism doesn’t lead to anything productive, inspiring. Quite the opposite actually.
By sharing how your life is getting better you’re 1) making others feel miserable 2) enforcing a consumerism mindset.
Robin Sharma, who also wrote The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, of course, despise this type of online spamming and selfishness.
He’s a strong believer that true greatness comes from nursing others.
So, if you want to see a positive change in your world you need to become a bit more obsessed with the world of the people around you.
If you want to help people, if you want to create a worthy legacy, you need to focus on the need of others. To become less interested in your own egoistic drives and more concern in becoming in service of others.
The last fifty years then become less about me and more about we. Less about selfishness and more about service.” Robin Sharma
Lesson #2: Focus On These Four Things To Become History-Maker
What’s that I hear? You want to become a world-famous magnate and cure the world of mediocrity?
No worries. There’s a section of the book that is specifically designed to amplify your skills and upgrade every part of your brain and body.
How the hell I was able to structure such a high intense sentence?
I borrowed the words from the book.
The main character in the book is called Mr. Riley. He’s ultra-rich, mega fit, and extremely noble. But that’s not all. He also has a bag full of tactics and strategies that aim to make you a better human being. One of which is called the four focuses of history-makers (quite a mouthful, I know). Here’s the short version:
- Capitalization IQ: True leaders are made, not born. They don’t rely on their talents, they rely on the process of becoming great. If you want to improve your existence you need to exercise daily, to learn daily, and to get better, daily.
- Freedom from distraction: If you’re bombarded by messages and notifications you won’t be able to focus. Therefore, you won’t achieve anything meaningful. So, you need to transition from being busy to being productive. How? Block the noisy sites that are only wasting your time and lock yourself in a room, alone.
- Personal mastery practice: According to the author, if you want to become truly great, exceptional, the usual yadda yadda, one needs to invest “at least two hours and forty-four minutes of daily improvement on their chosen skill for ten years.”
- Daily stacking: This one is the secret sauce of all rich people. The daily stacking focus point refers to your ability to make small daily improvements in your life. Focus on getting only 1% better each day. It might seem insignificant at first but imagine how your life will look like after one year – 300%+ better.
Lesson #3: The Downside of Becoming Legendary
Apart from figuring out where to stash all of your money and where to park your yacht, there’s one more problem when you finally become god-like rich – the lack of balance.
When you’re busy working on expanding your business and helping more humans progress, obviously, you won’t have time for friends and family. Heck, you’ll probably won’t even have time for the people living in your crib – your kids and your wife.
In addition to that, your expectations will rise and you’ll demand from everyone (including yourself) to produce high-quality work. But since not everyone is flawless like you are, you’ll often feel frustrated when people present something mediocre.
Is there a solution?
Yes, it’s called healthy perfectionism.
Don’t reach for the golf stick when someone is not able to satisfy your high standards. Sit down with this person and have a decent conversation. Explain what you expect and give them guidance. Show them what they need to improve to meet your standards.
This also applies to you.
Often writers who sold millions of copies are afraid to start writing a new book because they fear that they’ll never exceed their prior success. To overcome this weary feeling they all do the same thing – they focus on making daily progress, even if it’s just one sentence. It might seem small and insignificant but over a long period of time, the compiling efforts allow them to produce great work.
Small, daily, seemingly insignificant improvements when done consistently over time yield staggering results.” Robin Sharma
Lesson #4: The Victory Hour Formula (20/20/20)
By now I think it’s obvious what the book is all about – you need to get up early if you want to become empire-builder, needle-mover, and everything in between.
Still, one question remains unanswered: What to do when you actually managed to get up at 5 AM and change from your pajamas?
Well, worry not, amongst the overinflated words that represent a large portion of the book, there are hidden gems – like the 20/20/20 Formula that will guide you in your half-asleep mornings.
Here’s a short overview of this early-bird morning routine called The 20/20/20 Formula:
- Pocket #1: From 05:00 to 05:20 AM – move. Once you’re up, put on your work out clothes and start exercising. This will not only wake up you better than drinking a double frappuccino, but it will also help you later concentrate better.
- Pocket #2: From 05:20 to 05:40 AM – reflect. Write down what you’re grateful for, who you hope to become, and what are your tasks for the day – the usual journal stuff. This will help you focus and keep you centered on your goal.
- Pocket #3: From 05:40 to 06:00 AM – grow. This section is about getting better at something. Either read books or practice on your craft. Or, you can use the time to create your own business and become the next Warren Buffett.
These are the steps but my personal recommendation will be to make adjustments based on your desires. For instance, you don’t necessarily have to journal for 20 minutes, you can write for 5-6 minutes and start doing deep focused work that will help you get better at what you want to do.
Also, 20 minutes won’t be enough to become the next Masterchef or create your own empire. You need to schedule at least a couple of hours a day if you want to see real progress.
Lesson #5: The Ten Tactics of True Genius
Getting up at 5 AM will surely help you advance in your career and business but it’s not enough if you want to become a billionaire magnate like Mr. Riley – the mega-rich and audaciously generous character in the book who unknowingly why adopted two strangers to teach them stuff about life.
Anywho – the most mentioned word in the book – let me share one more uplifting model that will allow you to transcend above all other living creatures.
The last set of life-changing tactics mentioned in The 5 AM Club is called The 10 Tactics of Lifelong Genius model.
Here they are in short:
- Tactic #1: The Tight Bubble of Total Focus (TBTF): Escape the modern busyness by creating something like an invisible bubble where you can work uninterrupted.
- Tactic #2: The 90/90/1 Rule: For the next 90 days, block the first 90 minutes of your day and focus on doing 1 thing.
- Tactic #3: The 60/10 Method: Working for 90 minutes straight is unrealistic. You need to take a break every now and then. So, do high-intensity work for 60 minutes and then take 10 minutes break to recharge.
- Tactic #4: The Daily 5 Concepts: Always start your day with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Once you’re up, write down the 5 things you want to get done today.
- Tactic #5: The 2nd Wind Workout (2WW): Exercising once a day is not enough. To become real a-player, you should schedule a second workout somewhere in the evening. This will help you to keep your energy high and also give you another opportunity to stay away from digital devices.
- Tactic #6: The 2 Massage Protocol (2MP): You don’t have time nor money to go to massage? Don’t worry, Robin Sharma will prompt you to go twice per week. That’s, of course, if you want to become a real top performer.
- Tactic #7: Traffic University: Commuting to work is a great way to learn new skills. There are hundreds of insightful podcasts and audiobooks recorded which you can listen to while you drive. So, avoid the usual stuff – listening to music and checking social media – learn while you drive.
- Tactic #8: The Dream Team Technique: Even the greatest athletes have mentors. Why do you think you don’t need one? Find someone that will keep you accountable and, if possible, people to which you can delegate the boring work.
- Tactic #9: The Weekly Design System (WDS): Schedule time to schedule your week. Preferably, this is something you need to do each Sunday. Write down the things you’ve accomplished during the past 7 days and after that write what you’ll like to do the upcoming week.
- Tactic #10: The 60 Minute Student: Classes are not over after you graduate. If you want to become legendary, you should spend at least 60 minutes per day learning new things.
Things that get scheduled are things that get done.” Robin Sharma
- Be anti-moron: I’m sure you heard it before. The quote that states that you’re the sum of the 5 people closest to you. Naturally, if these people are not so intelligent, ambitions, neither will be you. So, find a peer group that will push you and help you get better while avoiding everyone else – the downright dumb people. Or as the author says in the book, “I’m not anti-social. I’m just anti-moron.”
- Avoid the “Learned Victimhood:” There’s a force, stronger than gravity, that is pulling us down. It’s like a little voice inside our head, constantly saying that we’re not to blame. That we’re the victim and that everyone else is responsible for our own decay. In the book, it’s called the “Learned Victimhood.” This condition is the reason so many people have excuses for everything and instead of improving their lives, they’re spending the free time they have mindlessly surfing online. If you want to become a real world-builder though, you need to rid yourself from this nasty narrative and realize that you’re responsible for how your life will unfold.
- Change is hard but not impossible: “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end,” is a quote that’s thrown a lot in the book. It basically means that when adopting a new habit you’ll struggle at first, then figure out what best works for you, and finally, after some time, be one with the desired behavior. The whole process, according to one of the charts casually mentioned by the rich character in the book, will take you around 66 days. So, don’t quit after just a few weeks. If you want to make a habit stick, you should dedicate at least 3 months.
- Get up early: Preferably at 5 AM, like the title says (duh!). This is by far the best way you can start your day. Since the majority of the population is sleeping at this hour, you’ll have more free, and most importantly uninterrupted, time at your disposal to work on your craft. Only, however, if you properly organize your morning. Here The 20/20/20 Framework comes in handy. Use it to structure your mornings and make the most out of your time.
- Preparation: OK, we now know that we need to get up early in the morning if we want to save the world and life a legendary life. However, how to do it, right? Easy. You need proper preparation. You can’t expect to get at 5 AM if you’re going to bed at 1 AM. Your body and mind need at least 7 hours of good night sleep. So, make adjustments to your days so you can be in bed around 10 PM. Your body and mind need at least 7 hours of good night sleep to recharge. So, make adjustments to your days so you can be in bed around 10 PM.
Commentary and My Personal Takeaway
One rainy day I woke up and I wanted to change the world. Like, make a full makeover of the lives of the mortals roaming the streets. Unfortunately, The 5 AM Club wasn’t at my disposal back then and therefore I wasn’t able to reach my full potential and make the world a magical place where everyone is happy and butterflies are flying around. But you can do better. If you read the book, now, you have the potential to become a combination of legendary leader and an iconic athlete that can build a massive empire.
So, if you’re into cheezy, sugar-coated quotes sprinkled with big fake words go ahead, read the book. You’ll love it. But if you’re not a fan of soap-opera-like stories and you can’t stand fake stories that are intentionally boasted you’ll want to smash your head in the nearest wall.
There are sections that are actually practical, yes, but only if you can abstract your mind from the parts that promise quantum leaps in your productivity.
I mean, who reads stuff like that?
Robin Sharma wanted to create a charming story to appeal to the masses but it turn out to become a collection of big, overly inflated words that offer little value.
While reading, my bullshit filter was going strong. The only reason I keep reading was to see if things will eventually get better. Spoiler alert! They don’t.
My main take from The 5 AM Club: Help others get better. That’s the best way you can get better yourself. But since we don’t have enough hours in a day, you need to make getting up early a habit.
Most people wish for phenomenal things to happen to them. He taught me that exceptional performers make phenomenal things happen to them.” Robin Sharma
A society of adults behaving like spoiled little children is how I sometimes see our world right now. Not judging, just saying. Not complaining, just reporting… Victors adore education.” Robin Sharma
I don’t wish for an easy life because there is no growth of my powers there. Give me a challenging life—one that brings out the finest in me. For this makes an iron will. And an unconquerable character.” Robin Sharma
What to read next:
- Actionable Book Summary: Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Actionable Book Summary: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
- Actionable Book Summary: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
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