Some people wake up in the morning and get ready to go to work and follow directions. Others wake up ready to seize the day, take control and lead into the future. If you are in the second group, or want to become a successful leader, starting your day right is vital. Follow the example of great leaders that have come before you to model your morning for success.
1. Wake up early.
If the early bird gets the worm, leaders need to be the early bird. That is the case for CEOs of large companies like Jeff Immelt of General Electric, Ursula Burns of Xerox, Jack Dorsey of Square and Twitter, Richard Branson of Virgin, Tim Cook of Apple and many more. While you don’t have to wake up at 4:30am like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, you may want to jump on board and set that alarm a little earlier going forward.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits shares that waking up early has many benefits. Some include an increase in productivity, a shorter commute, time to work on personal goals and quiet time before the rest of the world wakes up for the day. Plus, you can slow down for a moment and enjoy the sunrise.
When Richard Branson wakes up at 4:45 a.m., one of the first things he does in the day is exercise. Michelle Obama starts her day with a 4:30 a.m. workout. Shark Tank star investor Kevin O’Leary, Kayak cofounder Paul English and Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao also start their day early and with exercise.
Morning exercise helps improve your metabolism, creativity, energy (more than coffee!) and sleep. It’s no wonder some of the smartest leaders in business exercise in the a.m.
3. Make quick decisions.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is famous for his jeans, T-shirt and hoodie work uniform. He makes getting dressed literally a no-brainer, as he wears the same clothes every day.
Zuck owns many of the same exact outfit so he can quickly get dressed without even taking a second to decide. I adopted a version of this in my own life. I own the same T-shirt in seven colors and the same comfortable hoodie in four colors. I can throw on my morning outfit with little effort or thought. Maybe if I got them all in one color, I would be a billionaire too!
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What do Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Warren Buffett have in common? They start their day reading. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the richest person in the world, starts his day reading The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and an occasional additional newspaper cover to cover. Former President Obama reads The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and a few blogs.
Warren Buffett is a bit of an anomaly in that he reads all day. Seriously, he spends about 80% of his day reading. Buffett once shared that he reads about 500 pages every day. It made him the most successful investor of all time, so there must be something to it.
5. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Justin Timberlake has flax-seed waffles with almond butter and a scrambled egg, works out, then has another egg or protein shake. Cinnabon leader Kate Cole skips the Cinnabon herself and enjoys a breakfast of egg whites, avocado toast, and fruit. Popeye’s Chicken CEO Cheryl Bachelder prefers the traditional eggs, bacon and toast, according to CNBC.
Dietician Kathleen M. Zelman shared at WebMD that a healthy breakfast every day can help you manage your weight if you eat right. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism for the day, but you have to eat right to get the benefits. Eggs, fresh fruits, veggies and low-fat yogurt are all great options to include in a balanced breakfast.
6. Make every minute count.
A commute might seem like minutes of your day sucked away with little to show, but Digital Third Coast cofounder George Zlatin uses his car time to listen to self-improvement books. David Goldin, founder and CEO of Capify, uses his commute to schedule long, important calls so he can still be productive while stuck in traffic.
Your commute may be five minutes or 50, but nearly every minute of that commute can go to good use. Podcasts, audio books and phone calls are all fair game when behind the wheel. Just be sure to follow local laws, get a good headset or use Bluetooth and avoid the dangerous trend of distracted driving.
7. Create a comfortable routine.
While many leaders share common habits in the morning, there is one habit they all share: a routine. They wake up, follow the same steps every morning, and get started on a productive day. By living intentionally and repeating the same routine daily, they are able to start their day energized, educated and prepared for the challenges ahead.
Rather than copy what everyone else is doing, you can lead the way in your own life by intentionally creating the best morning routine for you. It may include an early wake up, reading, and a healthy breakfast, but it may look a little different. As long as it works for you and boosts your mood, health, and productivity, your routine is the key to starting a successful day.
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