Four Seconds Book Summary - Four Seconds Book explained in key points
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Four Seconds summary

Peter Bregman

All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want

4.1 (129 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Four Seconds by Peter Bregman is a self-help book that emphasizes the importance of being intentional in everything we do. It encourages us to take a step back and consider our actions before acting impulsively, leading to greater productivity and personal satisfaction.

Table of Contents

    Four Seconds
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    To create better habits you have to pause, breathe, and identify an area of focus.

    When you’re in a stressful situation, do you sometimes react in a way that ends up making you feel even worse? Many people respond to stress in self-defeating, counter-productive ways, such as yelling or starting an argument with someone. So how do we transform this unhelpful behavior into habits that save our time, energy and sanity?

    The first step is pausing and breathing for four seconds.

    Four seconds is the amount of time you need to take one deep breath in and out.

    When you pause and breathe, this puts you in a state that allows you to make better decisions and consider the outcomes of your actions before you take them.

    Say your kids are refusing to brush their teeth before school. It’s the third time this week and you can feel the anger bubbling up inside of you. You’re about to lose your cool and start yelling. But instead, you resist, pause and breathe. After doing so, you feel a little calmer and clearer. Maybe you even come up with a tooth-brushing game instead of succumbing to the counter-productive reaction of shouting.

    In addition to the four-second breath, in a stressful situation it’s a good idea to identify an area of focus, rather than a goal.

    Goal setting is often accompanied by temptations to cheat or to take unnecessary risks, whereas an area of focus motivates you without offering up such negative temptations.

    For example, you own a store that sells a certain product. In recent years, your goal has been to increase your revenue. This, however, has led to some of your staff using questionable methods to hit targets, such as lying about particular features of the product, because all they care about are the sales.

    But this year, you’ve set an area of focus, which is to talk more with the customers. The results? At the year’s end, you realize that the revenue has increased, thanks to focusing more on the customers than on increasing revenue.

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    What is Four Seconds about?

    Four Seconds (2015) gives precise examples of how to rid yourself of self-defeating habits at work, at home and in your relationships. A four-second pause helps slow down hasty, unhappy reactions and is the first step to reworking the way you communicate with others and receive feedback from them. You really can be prepared for anything if you just take a breath first.

    Four Seconds Review

    Four Seconds (2015) explores the power of pauses and intentional choices in our daily lives, providing a roadmap for making better decisions and living a more fulfilled life. Here are three reasons why this book is well worth a read:

    • With its practical strategies and thought-provoking exercises, it empowers readers to make more deliberate choices and take control of their actions.
    • The author's compelling stories and real-life examples bring the concepts to life, making the book engaging and relatable.
    • By emphasizing the importance of mindfulness and self-awareness, it guides readers towards a deeper understanding of themselves and how their choices impact their lives.

    Who should read Four Seconds?

    • People with a sneaky feeling that their communication skills need improvement
    • Anyone with bad habits that need to be broken
    • Stress bunnies looking for a straightforward solution

    About the Author

    Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a coaching consultancy that helps leaders achieve their goals. He is the author of the Wall Street Journal-bestselling book 18 Minutes and you can find his professional input in such publications as Forbes, Psychology Today and Harvard Business Review.

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    Four Seconds FAQs 

    What is the main message of Four Seconds?

    To make every moment count and use four seconds to improve our lives.

    How long does it take to read Four Seconds?

    Reading time for Four Seconds varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Four Seconds a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Four Seconds is worth reading as it teaches strategies for maximizing our time, potential, and happiness.

    Who is the author of Four Seconds?

    Peter Bregman is the author of Four Seconds.

    What to read after Four Seconds?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Four Seconds, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Living In Your Top 1% by Alissa Finerman
    • Best Self by Mike Bayer
    • The Power of Bad by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister
    • How to Lead Smart People by Arun Singh and Mike Mister
    • Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) by M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish
    • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
    • The Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg
    • 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse