Pre-dawn daily rituals make the magic happen
“I Need a Miracle Everyday!” The Grateful Dead
I recently read a book entitled The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod, which was recommended to me by one of my clients (thanks Richie Ritual!). It reinforces much of what I do each morning at 4:30 am for the past 20+ years, as well as what I have been coaching people on – the importance of having a Morning Success Ritual to start each day.
Hal Elrod has an interesting story, highlighted by two major traumatic events in his life. The first was a driving accident at age 20 that left him clinically dead for 6 minutes. His bones were so broken up that doctors told him he would never walk again. Within 10 years he did an ultra-marathon – twice the distance of a 26-mile marathon. The second was going belly-up in his business during the global financial crisis in 2008. Elrod found himself almost a half-million dollars in debt and fell into a catatonic funk, barely leaving his house. A close friend encouraged him to get back into running, which turned his attitude around.
While getting back on his feet (literally, by returning to running) Elrod came up with the acronym “SAVERS” to spell out his hour-long “Miracle Morning” recipe to greet each day:
Silence Begin each morning by getting into a meditative state. May sound funny, but meditation is practicing “being” rather than doing. I like to think it helps me connect with my higher self before I “do” anything each day. While I only do 5 – 10 minutes, I have not missed a single day since the mid-90’s. Nor would I – it’s as ingrained as brushing my teeth.
Affirmations I’ve been using daily affirmations for empowerment ever since I read about the power of “Autosuggestion” in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Many other influential speakers, authors and coaches prescribe them as a way to develop a Positive Mental Attitude. One of my personal favorites I crafted for myself: “I am a Champion, I am a Winner, I am a Great Success – I am a Positive Force in the World!”
Visualization This is also known as “autogenic conditioning,” using your creative imagination in a relaxed state to picture your goals as already achieved. Many professional athletes do this to prepare for their victories – wouldn’t it make sense for you to use it for your career goals as well? By combining my meditation with visualizing my goals I am killing two birds with one stone.
Exercise The benefits of exercise are well documented. And you don’t need to be a marathoner or body builder to realize these benefits – as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking every day can keep you reasonably fit. I work out 6 – 7 days a week – my best subject in school was recess. I’m clearly addicted to the exercise endorphin buzz.
Reading You may have heard the quote “leaders are readers.” And there is a strong correlation between learning and earning. If one of the keys to becoming wealthy is reading you’d do well to take it on, especially with books in your field. My learning goal is to read 40+ biz books a year. Except when I have an early networking meeting, I am reading a book every morning with my coffee to wake up my brain.
Scribing This term refers to journaling, which is the practice of keeping a diary or journal by writing down your thoughts and feelings surrounding the events in your life. A number of notable historical figures kept journals, including Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain and Isaac Newton. True confession: I tried journaling for a few months, found it tedious and redundant, so I stopped – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. I do post daily on LinkedIn and write articles like this, so that is my “Scribbing.”
The Question of When A SAVERS ritual like this appears to add a lot to your already busy day. So when might you do it?
6 am? If you get up at your normal time, say 6 am, you’re competing with the rest of your household as they prepare for their day. Your spouse and kids need time, and perhaps some of your attention, to get cleaned up, dressed, fed and out the door to get to school/work.
8 am? On your commute you find the email inbox on your phone is overflowing, you already have a morning meeting scheduled for 8:15 am and you’re hoping traffic isn’t too bad so you can grab the last parking spot to slide into the office on time.
Noon? In the unlikely event you take a lunch hour instead of working while eating at your desk, you would still be hard pressed to squeeze in all of the SAVERS activities.
After work? Besides getting wrung through the ringer by the end of the workday, you want to get home to your family for dinner at some reasonable hour.
Late night? C’mon – you need time to kick your feet up, relax and mellow out before you get up and repeat this process the next day.
So what’s left? The answer: EARLY MORNING. I can just about hear you now: “I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON!!!” Neither was I, nor was Hal Elrod. But we separately came to our own conclusion that there was only one time of day that would allow us to do the critical personal development work that would lead to success in our lives. And that was at or, for much of the year, before dawn.
The downside In order to adopt an early morning ritual wake-up time, you’re gonna have to make some adjustments, which usually means turning off late-night TV and getting to bed an hour earlier, like 10 pm, or even 9 pm. Now tell truth: How much real value do you get from the news at that hour? You already know what happened during the day if you Googled the headlines. If you tune in to talk show comedians, is their put-down humor really worth the extra hour? Do you binge-watch dramas? Could it be that their plotlines are more interesting than your career plotline? (If so, it’s time to change your script, no?) Disclaimer: If my Chicago Cubs, Da Bearz or Da Bullz are playing at night I will be watching. No one’s perfect at avoiding mindless entertainment, and that includes me.
Arising at 4:30 am did take some getting used to. I actually started with 5:30 am years ago – my rising time just kept creeping down earlier and earlier. It’s now hard for me to sleep past 5:30 am even on the weekends because my body is so used to getting up early.
The bottom line If you have a sports team you follow, would you want them to play a game without warming up before competing? By analogy, your morning success ritual is your batting practice before you cross the white lines of your business each day. You don’t have do your SAVERS routine exactly like Hal Elrod’s or mine – create your own to suit yourself. When you do, you’ll be busy working on yourself before anybody else is even out of the sack, then be primed for action throughout the rest of the day. And by making it a habit, you’ll become the early bird that catches the success worm. Rise and shine!