Short summary - Hell week - Erik Bertrand Larssen

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Hell week
Erik Bertrand Larssen


The author of the book, Eric Larssen, has not always been a motivational speaker and personal growth coach. At nineteen, he was a soldier in the Norwegian army, yesterday's schoolboy, shy and insecure. Colleagues seemed to him more mature, strong and resilient.

His service began with a week-long training, the so-called Hell Week, during which the soldiers hardly slept, were malnourished, swam across an icy river and carried heavy loads for tens of kilometers. During Hell Week, all the senses intensified, and those little things that were imperceptible before began to bring joy.

Returning to his parents' house after Hell Week, Eric experienced the unprecedented pleasure of a warm bath and a simple homemade dinner.

According to the test results, Eric was accepted into the special forces. He served in Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, and it was not easy, but Hell Week is forever engraved in his memory.

After demobilization, Eric received an MBA, worked in the financial sector and was engaged in recruitment. He watched people from the world of business who seemed to be the standard of success, and understood that most of them live by inertia, experiencing nothing but fatigue and irritation. The author also had to work with athletes. Many of them were dissatisfied with their careers and did not see prospects. At the same time, they violated the regime, did not give their best in training, that is, they did everything they could not to succeed.

Sometimes Eric met with really successful people, businessmen, athletes, writers. He tried to distinguish between the winners and those who just go with the flow, and came to the conclusion that all successful people pay attention to detail. Every day they make small decisions, gradually moving forward. It was then that Eric realized his destiny: to become a personal growth coach to help people notice details and take small steps towards a better version of themselves. He created a civilian version of Hell Week, an effective tool that helps a person awaken deep possibilities in himself and feel the joy of life.

1. Preparing for Hell Week

Good preparation is 50% of success. Athletes who train hard win Olympic medals. Actors who rehearse a lot become the stars of the stage.

Back in 1911, Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole 34 days ahead of another explorer, Robert Scott. He carefully prepared for the expedition. In the team, he recruited people who skied confidently and knew how to work not only with their heads, but also with their hands. He stocked food, given the increased energy consumption in cold conditions: for example, he took cocoa with him, not tea. Instead of horses, the travelers took dogs, more adapted to the snow. From these insignificant trifles, success was formed: a hundred years later, on all continents, any schoolchild can name the conqueror of the South Pole.

To get the maximum result, you need to start preparing for the seven-day trials 2-3 weeks in advance. The preparation plan includes seven steps.

1.1. Love hardship

Many people think that difficulties are synonymous with failure. In fact, difficulties are a necessary component of success. They turn into failure only if you are afraid of them.

Eric Larssen had a terrible accident. After recovering from his physical injuries, he sank into a deep depression, retired from the army and broke up with his girlfriend. One day his father called him. After listening to his son's complaints, he said: "Now is the moment of truth, when it becomes clear what you really stand for." These words helped Eric realize that life is always full of ups and downs. He learned to cope with difficulties and began to help other people in difficult periods.

Action plan:

- make a list of the ups and downs of your life;

- remember how you overcame difficulties and what you learned in the process of overcoming;

- if you still have unresolved problems, tell a loved one about them;

- come up with a plan B: imagine different scenarios for the development of events;

- forget about excuses, meet difficulties face to face;

- treat difficulties with humor, when you laugh at problems, they seem not scary.

1.2. Be prepared to take risks

If you want to be successful, be prepared to take risks. Most of the important decisions in our lives are made under the influence of emotions. The so-called voice of reason often prevents us from doing what we really dream of, and this makes us unhappy. During Hell Week, you will learn how to turn off the voice of reason and listen to your feelings calling for change.

Everyone knows that smoking is bad. However, this is not enough to change anything. Only when a person sincerely wants to be healthy, live long and look good, can he give up a bad habit.

Action plan:

- drown out negative thoughts - every time they arise, say "Stop!";

- imagine yourself in uncomfortable conditions, think about how to get out of this or that situation;

- do not be afraid to seem stupid: sometimes it is not harmful to fool around;

- Say “I don’t know” more often - this helps to get out of your comfort zone and learn a lot of new things.

1.3. Unite mind and body

Putting the body in order does not give us the brain, in which there are numerous excuses. He helpfully throws us pictures of hard trials, and we postpone the beginning of a new life until Monday or the new year. In fact, the path to success will be much shorter if you are in great shape.

Fans of aerobic exercise (running, swimming, cycling) note that during classes the mind clears up, and interesting ideas often arise that do not come to mind at the workplace.

Action plan:

- train every day;

— increase activity: walk more, ride a bike to work;

— learn to tune in to the right wave with the help of breathing, meditation and visualization;

- try to eat healthy food;

- Dress appropriately: If you're doing a product launch, a wrinkled T-shirt and shorts can turn off potential customers.

1.4. Gather Feedback

We cannot perceive ourselves objectively. Feedback from others takes us out of our comfort zone and helps us understand ourselves.

One of Eric Larssen's clients worked hard and demanded the same from his subordinates. At the same time, the results of the work were low. After receiving feedback, he realized the reason for the failures: people were disgusted by his rude attitude, and they worked through force.

Action plan:

- list all areas of your life, select people related to each of them;

- ask each of them to think about your strengths and weaknesses, habits, competencies and give feedback within 48 hours;

- it is most effective to accept answers in writing and anonymously - not everyone can be sincere when looking into a person's eyes.

1.5. Set goals

The ability to plan your life distinguishes people from animals. However, many of us just go with the flow without setting any goals for ourselves. Such a life seems monotonous and meaningless.

A successful lawyer complained to Eric Larssen about life. To an outside observer, his life seemed like a fairy tale: how unhappy a partner of a large law firm with a beautiful wife, smart and obedient children and a chic house in a prestigious area can be! Larssen asked the client to remember when he felt truly happy. It turned out that this man was happy when he graduated from the university and came to work in the very company in which he was now a partner. “Then I had a goal,” he said.

Action plan:

- set the most specific goals: "earn $ 10 million by the age of thirty", and not "have a lot of money";

- allow yourself to dream - do not try to fit goals to certain standards and restrictions;

— define the exact time frame for achieving the goals;

- break the goal into stages: in small steps you will achieve it faster;

- share your plans with others;

- be prepared to make sacrifices;

— follow the chosen course, no matter what.

1.6. Visualization

Think about the upcoming Hell Week, imagine the details.

After you imagine 20 times what you will do on a sleepless night from Thursday to Friday, this test will no longer seem impossible.

Action plan:

— tell yourself that you want to start Hell week as soon as possible;

- imagine yourself not only in a situation of success, but also in difficult circumstances, think about how you will cope with difficulties;

- imagine that your life is a film, and you are a screenwriter and producer at the same time;

— play the upcoming event: if you have a difficult interview ahead of you, let a friend ask you the most tricky questions.

1.7. Hell Week Planning

Do not try to plan every minute - life is too unpredictable. The main thing is that the plan correlates with the goals that you set for yourself.

If you dream of making a breakthrough in your career, get to know the people who work at the company of your dreams. If you want to improve relationships in the family, it is worth considering a romantic date with the second half and making time for communication with the children.

Action plan:

- remind yourself that life will end sooner or later - imagine that this will be the last week of your life;

- schedule the most important and lengthy tasks for the morning hours;

— approach planning flexibly: sometimes circumstances are stronger than our plans, the main thing is that you get closer to your goal every day;

- think about what energizes and inspires you - let these things, phenomena and activities accompany you during Hell Week;

- practice saying a firm and polite "no" - this will save time and effort and protect you from unpleasant and meaningless activities;

- provide small entertainment and rewards for an effective day, figure out how to mark the end of Hell Week;

- Include a few minutes of affirmations in your daily schedule: remind yourself what a wonderful person you are - this helps to overcome difficulties.

2. Seven days at the limit

Hell Week starts at 5 am on Monday and ends at 10 pm on Sunday. No need to take a vacation or send the kids to grandma. Let this be an ordinary week that you live differently, at the limit of your capabilities.

Follow the basic principle of Hell Week: whatever you do, do it as consciously as possible. Every action should be the result of free choice, only in this case life will become more productive.

2.1. hell week rules

These seven days should be spent at the limit of your capabilities, forgetting about procrastination, excuses and evenings in front of the TV. It is not so difficult to follow the following rules:

invariably get up at 5 am and go to bed at 10 pm;

you should always look perfect: clean shoes, ironed clothes, neat hair and well-groomed hands;

Get at least an hour of physical exercise every day;

stick to a healthy diet: give up alcohol, avoid starchy, fatty, fried and salty foods, eat more plant foods and drink at least two liters of water daily;

use the Internet exclusively for work and do not turn on the TV throughout the week;

during working hours, focus on work as much as possible, and in the evening - on household chores and communication with your family;

always be on top:

— whatever you do, give your 100%;

- Always finish what you start.

— be proactive, positive and focused.

2.2. Monday

Hell Week starts with habit work. Habits are a reflection of the inner world of a person; they are acquired in the process of life under the influence of various circumstances.

A person does not bite his nails from birth, the habit arises from constant worries and self-doubt.

Nevertheless, any habit is a choice of the person himself.

We decide whether to smoke or not, brush our teeth twice a day or once a week, come to a meeting on time or be late.

Start Hell Week by learning a healthy new habit: wake up happy at 5 a.m.

Set the alarm in a place that is impossible to reach from the bed, and change the melody to a more positive and invigorating one. As soon as the alarm rings, ask yourself the question: “What do I expect from today?” Thoughts about the upcoming meeting with a friend, a new project and a morning cup of coffee will set you on a positive wave. The habit of thinking about pleasant things after waking up will make getting up early pleasant.

On Monday, you will analyze the list of habits compiled in the preparatory phase. Understanding which habits are bad is not difficult: you need to correlate your existing habits with your goals and understand which ones prevent you from moving forward.

You want to make a career, but you are constantly late for meetings and work late. You need to get rid of these habits and learn to be punctual.

Start working on habits right away, and by the end of Hell Week you will see the first positive results. Even if you get rid of just one bad habit, your life will become more efficient.

2.3. Tuesday

Hell Week Tuesday is dedicated to regime change. No person is awake 24 hours a day, but each of us knows the state when everything turns out faster and better than usual. Some call it inspiration, some call it a state of flow. One person is at the peak of efficiency after a morning run, another needs a slow breakfast and a leisurely wander through the park for inspiration.

Try to remember all the best moments of your life. Write them down. Remember what preceded these events - perhaps you were listening to a song, talking on the phone with your mother, or watching the sunset. Now try to recall the sensations that you experienced. Choose the right words to describe them. These words will become your mantra, which you will pronounce before starting a responsible business. At first, you will need 50-100 repetitions to get into the desired mode. Over time, you will be able to switch faster.

Working too long at the limit leads to a state where a person can no longer work effectively. When you learn how to achieve maximum efficiency mode, you need to learn how to transfer yourself into normal work mode and rest mode.

One of Larssen's clients, a top manager at an IT company, spent most of her time in meetings. She tried to work to the limit in any situation, but over time she realized that this was impossible. Now she adjusts differently for each meeting. The selected mode depends on the goal, the composition of the participants and the role that is assigned to it. So, negotiations with potential clients require maximum mode, and discussion of weekly reports with subordinates implies a more relaxed mode.

Test different modes. Learn to feel the moment when you need to switch. So you can get the maximum result and at the same time live in harmony with yourself and the world.

2.4. Wednesday

On Wednesday, you will learn how to do everything. Erik Larssen is convinced that it is possible to combine family life, career and entertainment, while maintaining good physical shape and a positive attitude. It's just a matter of effective time management.

You come home late at night after a hard day at work and remember that you forgot to wish your friend a happy birthday. You don't have time to start dinner when a client calls and asks to make an appointment for tomorrow. You are trying to open the calendar, but it turns out that the Wi-Fi is not working. When you finally open the calendar on your smartphone, it turns out that the whole day tomorrow is already planned out to the minute. And then you hear that your wife asks you to help sort out the shelves in the basement. You are about to explode, but the best thing you can do right now is take a deep breath and stop.

Pressing the internal “Pause” button from time to time is very important: this way you will save yourself not only from a heart attack, but also from bad decisions, conflicts and the terrible feeling of “I’m doing something all the time, but I don’t have time.”

Sit quietly for a few seconds, then take out a pen and paper and write down your to-do list. Tasks transferred to paper no longer seem so difficult. Look at them carefully and decide whether each item needs to be urgently completed. Next to the actual items, put a due date.

Planning should be made part of your daily routine. Gradually, making plans will become a habit, and you will see that you have become much more in time. Eric Larssen advises making plans for the year, month, week and day. Don't try to do everything at once: try to finish one thing before starting the next. Multitasking is a source of chaos and stress.

2.5. Thursday

In the middle of Hell Week, the most difficult trials await you.Thursday will have to be spent outside the comfort zone, and on the night of Thursday to Friday you will not close your eyes.

People accumulate fears throughout their lives and get so used to them that they don’t even try to get rid of them. Fear consumes our energy and prevents us from moving forward.

Say out loud what you think and what you are afraid of. As soon as fear is extracted from the subconscious and voiced, it becomes less significant.

You can completely get rid of fear only by deciding to face it.

You had a fight with your best friend and haven't spoken to him in 2 years? Admit to yourself that you are not making contact because a friend will not want to talk to you. Now call and make an appointment!

Having spoken out your fears and met with them, you will feel excitement and fatigue, but you will not be able to rest. You have a new test - a night without sleep. Most adults, relatively healthy people, are able to pass this test. This experience should be excluded for people with serious health problems, and for those for whom the lack of sleep at night is associated with a risk to life (drivers, surgeons).

The world wakefulness record was set by a 17-year-old student from California. He didn't sleep for 11 days in a row.

Try to plan the upcoming night as much as possible at the preparatory stage. If you just sit and look at the clock, you will fall asleep faster than usual.

Complete work tasks for which there was not enough time, write letters to relatives and friends who live in other cities and countries. You can team up with colleagues who also gave themselves Hell Week and work on a project. Try to stay focused throughout the night.

By the end of the night you will feel physically and mentally tired. However, the feeling of satisfaction from the fact that you were able to work 24 hours without a break will be much stronger.

2.6. Friday

Friday after a sleepless night is a day of recovery and rest. Don't think that you can go to bed now. A normal work day ahead. It just needs to be done in a different rhythm.

At 5 o'clock in the morning, get in the shower and take it for as long as you want. To cheer up, complete the water procedures with cold water. You can postpone physical exercises for the evening, but if you do them now, the fatigue will recede.

Take small breaks throughout the day to reflect on how Hell Week has affected you, what has already changed, and what will change in the near future.

Rest is a very important part of life, helping to restore strength, comprehend past events and dream about the future. However, most people do not know how to rest: some rest too little, others, on the contrary, abuse their rest.

Working with breaks for food and sleep is just as harmful as sleeping 12 hours a day and spending all your free time in front of the TV.

Rest should be full and limited in time. There are many forms of relaxation: sleeping, meditating, taking a hot bath, taking a walk with your loved one… During work Friday, take a break from work as soon as you feel that you are losing concentration. Try the following exercise.

Meditation with the keys

Take the bunch of keys in such a way that if you open your fingers, it will fall to the floor. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Relax, breathe normally and try to sleep. As soon as you start to fall asleep, the keys will fall and you will return to reality rested and full of energy.

At 10 pm, after 41 hours of being awake, you will fall asleep as soon as your cheek touches the pillow.

2.7. Saturday

Saturday is positive day.On this day, you need to remember all the good things that happened to you in life, and try to think about people and events in an exclusively positive way.

As soon as you feel that you have begun to think negatively, try to switch to positive emotions. Try to keep a positive attitude throughout the day.

Find something that makes you feel happy and confident and move forward.

Erik Larssen shares his "feel good factor". He imagines that in 10 years he will say to himself: “Yes, I did it!”, And not “And why did I do it? It still didn't work!"

You can think about the same things in different ways. The more positive your thoughts, the greater the chance of success.

2.8. Sunday

The last day of Hell Week is a day of reflection on recent trials and life prospects.

Get up as usual at 5 am, exercise, do household chores and spend time with family and friends. During the day, find 1-2 hours that you will spend alone with yourself.

Imagine yourself many years later on your deathbed and ask yourself questions: “What can I be proud of?”, “Did I do everything I wanted to?”

When you return from your imaginary future, reflect on your value system.

Ask yourself: Who am I? Who do my friends and family think I am? What relationships are of particular value to me? What am I proud of?

Once you have established your values, relate them to your goals. Our values largely determine the content and quality of life.

Client Eric Larssen had a difficult childhood and valued stability and security highly. His goal was to start his own company and he had a great business idea. The business area he chose was very promising, but risky, so the implementation of the idea was postponed indefinitely. Eric worked with the client for a long time, aligning goals and values. As a result, a fairly calm niche was chosen in which the client was able to start a business.

Think about the people you would like to be like. It can be both historical figures and older brothers or friends. Study the biographies of people you admire and you will find that even the greats have their weaknesses and failures, they just know how to deal with them.

Edison was hard of hearing and did not study well, John F. Kennedy was constantly ill in childhood, and the early years of Louis Pasteur were spent in poverty.

3. Life after Hell Week

3.1. First months

Hell Week is not an easy test, and in order to consolidate success, you need to follow simple recommendations:

try to remember the positive moments, bright insights and significant results of Hell Week more often;

keep working on good habits - it takes an average of 21 days to form a new habit;

fix the habit of making to-do lists the day before and do not forget to make plans for the week, month and year;

collect feedback from time to time - a person cannot objectively assess the changes that have occurred to him;

Practice switching between different modes so as not to lose the skill acquired during Hell Week.

3.2. One year later

A year after the first Hell Week, you can repeat the experience and even make the annual Hell Week a tradition.

Before starting a new Hell Week, it's worth checking how much your values have changed over the past 12 months. Remember what you were proud of during this period and what gave you joy.


Future personal growth coach Erik Larssen went through the harsh army training - Hell Week in his youth. The extreme experience helped him realize that human possibilities are almost limitless.

Many years later, Erik Larssen created a civilian version of Hell Week to help clients find meaning in their lives and discover their deepest talents and abilities.

2-3 weeks before the test, in the preparatory phase, you need to learn to love difficulties, prepare for risk, establish a connection between mind and body, find out what others think of you, determine your goals, visualize and plan Hell Week.

During Hell Week, you need to get out of bed at 5.00 and go to bed at 22.00, carefully monitor your appearance, exercise at least an hour a day, eat healthy food, exclude TV and minimize the Internet, give yourself completely to each business and distinguish between rest and work.

The first day of Hell Week is devoted to working on habits, Tuesday is the ability to switch from one mode to another, and Wednesday is time management. On Thursday, you will have to admit to yourself your fears and face them, and spend the night from Thursday to Friday without sleep. You won’t be able to sleep off on Friday, but you can interrupt from time to time for meditation or other types of relaxation. The Saturday of Hell Week is dedicated to positive thoughts, while Sunday is for summing up and reflecting on the prospects.

In the first months after the training, it is worth consolidating new habits, time management skills and the ability to tune in to the right wave at the right time.

Hell Week can be repeated in a year or two to reassess values and tune in to new goals.