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How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 12:00 am EDT
"Relational intelligence is the future competitive advantage for leaders."

Sometime around the end of the 20th century, busyness became not just a way of life, but a badge of honor for most Americans.

In fact, the busier you are, the faster you work, the more you can multitask – the better. That is how our society now measures competence and success. If you’re busy, you’re important.  

Yet leadership experts Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram would argue we’re measuring the wrong thing. It’s not about how busy you are, but rather feeling present and productive in every aspect of your life. In their new book, 5 GEARS: HOW TO BE PRESENT AND PRODUCTIVE WHEN THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME (Wiley; hardcover; September 8) they present a revolutionary method to not only grow your relational intelligence, but increase your daily impact as well.   

Relational intelligence is a social skill, but it focuses specifically on learning and understanding how we engage in our relationships. And according to the authors, the key to doing it well is being able to shift into the right gear or mindset at the right time. The 5 Gears metaphor is based on a manual stick-shift transmission, with each gear correlating to a corresponding behavior that people shift into at certain times and with certain people. Each gear has a purpose, and if you apply this driving analogy to the way you “drive” your life – aligning the right gear with the right speed and situation – it will allow for a smooth journey.   

The 5 Gears are:

  • 5th: You are fully focused and in the zone, working without interruption. This gear is personal; it’s where we shift when we need to work on our own, think strategically, or be singularly productive with one task. 
  • 4th: This is the work gear. You are checking off your to-do list and often multitasking. Most people spend their work day in this gear.
  • 3rd: Time to socialize. This is the gear for being present in social spaces with a variety of different people. This can often be related to work, such as a networking event.
  • 2nd: Take time to connect with family and friends without an agenda or pressure to work/be productive. 
  • 1st: This is your time to fully rest and recharge. Crashing doesn’t count and recharging does not happen the same way for everyone.   

Your gear order is strategically important to your life. You need to understand the tendencies of where you spend your time or in what gears you tend to get stuck in as well as those that are harder for you to experience. “By understanding how the five gears work,” write Kubicek and Cockram, “You can improve your ability to connect with the world around you. All too often people go through life without truly knowing how to connect, and as a result, miss out on experiences and relationships.”

5 GEARS is the definitive primer on boosting your emotional intelligence, and readers will come away speaking a new language. The authors take a complex issue and make it simple for anyone to understand and implement. You’re not too busy to make a change – it’s time to be intentional about the way you live and work in the world.   

Additional Information


Q: How did the 5 Gears metaphor come about?

A: 5 Gears was created in our own weakness as we began to look at each other’s’ lives as business partners. We needed a metaphor to explain how we tended to shift into the right segments of life and the gear stick shift was simple and sticky.

 Q: In the book, you write: “Relational intelligence is the future competitive advantage for leaders.” Why do you believe this?

A: In today’s world, information is free – the Internet has made sure of that. In our opinion, the best leaders are the ones that learn how to take that information and apply it in an appropriate and emotionally intelligent way. This skill could be seriously lacking for the next generation, who has grown up with screens instead of actual face time. It will be important for them to understand how to connect in real life. If they can do that, they will have influence in the new world.

 Q: In your opinion, what gear do the majority of Americans spend their time in?  

A: We are a task-driven society, and most people (whether they realize it or not) spend the majority of their day in 4thgear. We’re constantly multitasking — at work, at home, with social media.  

 Q: You write that you hope to help people learn how to shift through the gears effortlessly, for a more peaceful and happy life. Why is it hard for some people to shift?   

A: Most automobiles are automatic, but most people are not. We stay stuck in one or two gears — usually 4th or 5th gear —without knowing how to shift. The pressure to be productive causes busy adults to fixate on their tasks, and that leaves little room for recharging, socializing and just generally connecting with those around you. I think we have all experienced the burnout that comes with being stuck in productive mode all the time. The 5 Gears teaches people how to shift so they can be in the gear they should be in, rather than halfway in each, which is less effective.

 Q:  Can you be better at one gear than another?

A: Absolutely. Each of us has a natural gear order. Jeremie, for example, tends to be better in the outward gears – social and connect – and less effective in the inward focus and recharge gears. What’s also really interesting is that introverts tend to have a different gear order than extroverts.  

 Q:  What are triggers, and what’s the best way to use them?     

A: Triggers are tactics to trick our minds into shifting. They are reminders, or markers rather, that cue you to shift. For Jeremie, it’s currently a bridge two miles from home. He tries to get off the phone at that point so he can best shift into the proper gear based on what his family is doing at the end of the day. We have also used the: 58’s on a clock prior to meetings, neighborhood entrances, and have known some people to choose a tree as their marker.

 Q:  Why this book, and why now?  

A: Adults are drowning and every solution tends to be a fad, like diet books. We need secure, confident and humble leaders in a time when most get taken out by distractions, drama or the pressure to keep up. We all need to reorder the 5 Gears in our life, and this metaphor is so simple and sticky without being too hokey. It is designed to help people create a sign language with more objective language than subjective comments about how people use or abuse their time.

Q:  What’s next?

A: With the 5 Gears we have created a masterclass, (password: giantworldwide) that helps people implement this fully into their lives. The 5 Gears is effectively focused on emotional intelligence.

We are also writing another book, 5 Voices, which will help people understand what it sounds like on the other side of them. It is a personality tool. We want to help leaders shape their teams by finding their voice, whether a Pioneer, Connector, Guardian, Creative or Nurturer. We have simplified the more complex personality tests down to five descriptors to make them much easier to remember and more practical in daily life.

From there we have three additional books that will all help people become leaders worth following.    

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    Jeremie Kubicek is the co­founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global company dedicated to leadership transformation through intentional apprenticeship. He is also a speaker, best­selling author and pioneering entrepreneur, and he is best known for his enthusiastic, impactful encouragement to leaders around the world.

    Jeremie is responsible for the creation of the global leadership simulcast event, Leadercast, as well as the national growth of the next generation leadership event, Catalyst. He has led national leadership campaigns for John Maxwell and Dr. Henry Cloud, as well as launched culture­changing programs within Ford Motor Company.

    He and his family have made it a priority to be intentional in the way they live and lead, and in his current venture at GiANT Worldwide, he and his business partner Steve Cockram have, to date, apprenticed over 50 associates to serve clients throughout Europe and the United States. Their mission is to raise up liberating leaders who will change their leadership cultures in every sector and city in the world.

    He is an entrepreneur at his core, with an emphasis on transformational leadership, and his hobbies are focused on starting companies that impact people at both a head and heart level. He has been involved in the startup of numerous ventures and projects, some of which include:

    Co­founder of the GiANT companies (GiANT Worldwide, GiANT Partners, GiANT Capital, GiANT Impact)
    Creator of the Leadercast global simulcast
    Former CEO over the national Catalyst conferences
    Former CEO over the John Maxwell brand
    Partner in several current startup organizations
    Developer of a niche, modern real estate development, The Prairie at Post in Edmond, OK.
    Kubicek is also the author of the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine bestseller Making Your Leadership Come Alive.

    Following time spent living abroad in England and in Atlanta, GA, Kubicek and his wife of 20 years, Kelly, recently returned to Oklahoma City, OK, where they are currently living and raising their three teenagers, Addison, Will and Kate.

    Steve Cockram is the co­founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global company dedicated to leadership transformation through intentional apprenticeship. He travels extensively teaching and consulting with senior executives and their teams all over the world, from the likes of the British government and multinational corporations, to small start­ups in the UK and US.

    He is an acknowledged expert in the field of Jungian Type Analysis, developing GiANT’s methodology and curriculum, which help leaders more fully understand their internal wiring and core motivations. He is fiercely practical and committed to “Applied Leadership Learning,” seeking to give leaders fresh insights and tools that will make a real difference immediately.

    Some of the tools and concepts he has developed include:

    GiANT’s original Toolkit
    The 5 Voices of a Team
    The GiANT Best Fit Experience
    Apprenticeship Methodology
    Leadership Kryptonite
    Healthy Pilot
    Armed with his conversational British humor, Cockram helps individuals explore what it’s like to live on the other side of their leadership and learn how to become leaders everyone wants to follow, leading organizations everyone wants to work for.

    Cockram is a serial entrepreneur, always involved in a wide range of new initiatives. He loves movies, sports, exploring new cultures and eating out with friends. He has been married to Helen for 23 years, during which time they have lived in 12 different houses on two continents. They currently reside in Gerrards Cross, London with their three girls, Izzy, Megan and Charlotte.

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