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Toronto-based leadership coach Robin Sharma calls it “The 5 a.m. Club.” Hal Elrod calls it “The Miracle Morning.” Both are committed – along with followers and others who may never have heard of these self-help gurus - to carving out time each morning for things like meditation, reading and journalling that will carry them through the day with a proper frame of mind so they can achieve their full potential.

Mr. Elrod recommends a daily ritual of six activities in 60 minutes: Silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and journalling. If you aren’t a morning person, he says he wasn’t either when he started nor were many who have embraced the routine. You will learn to love the impact this commitment has on your life, and cherish it. If you don’t want to wake up early, that’s fine; just start the day with the six-item ritual, at whatever time fits. And if 60 minutes is too much, try 30 minutes. It can even be done in as little as six minutes.

“How you approach waking up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) is crucial because it sets the tone, context and direction for the rest of your day,” he writes in The Miracle Morning.

His routine – he calls it SAVER after the first letter of each step - involves:

  • Silence: Most people begin their mornings in a frenzy. He recommends centering yourself and fostering an optimal mental, emotional and spiritual state. It might involve meditation, prayer, time focusing on what you should be grateful for, breathwork or contemplation. You might just do one of those or combine them in some way. “From the power of prayer to the miracle of meditation, some of the greatest minds in history have used purposeful silence to transcend their limitations,” he notes.
  • Affirmations: These can be a powerful tool to articulate the person you need to be to achieve what you want in your life. But they can seem silly or cheesy or untrue, when you repeat a declaration like “I am wealthy.” Instead of lying to yourself, declare what you are committed to, why it is important and what actions you’ll take. Repeat every day.
  • Visualization: Elite athletes and performers stoke their performance by visualizing success but for the rest of us he feels its benefit is helping to go beyond the obstacles facing us. “The more vividly you see what you want, and the more intensely you allow yourself to experience now the feelings you will feel once you achieve your goal, the more you make the possibility of achieving it feel real,” he writes.
  • Exercise: Many people try to squeeze in a full workout or run in the morning, but he is only calling for a few moments moving your body, elevating your heart rate and filling your lungs with oxygen. It might be jumping jacks, some other aerobic exercise or yoga.
  • Reading: He considers reading one of the most efficient and effective methods for acquiring the knowledge, perspectives and strategies to improve your life. He overbalances on this, taking 20 minutes in the morning (and 10 to 20 more before bed). He notes that in 10 minutes you can read five to 10 pages, which at that top end would equate to 18 200-page books a year. Find reading that uplifts you or adds knowledge in important dimensions for your success.
  • Scribing: He spends five to 10 minutes each morning getting ideas out of his head and into a journal. You want to document ideas, insights, breakthroughs, areas of opportunity and improvements you have made. He had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to journal but this morning regimen gave him the time and structure to be effective at it.

The order in which you tackle these can vary, according to preference. You may want to end with exercise should it leave you sweating. He initially carried it out Monday through Friday, taking the weekend off, but realized he felt better, more productive, and fulfilled when he did it every day.

Power Points

  • Mita Mallick, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Carta, which helps organizations manage portfolios, says if a company’s recruiting process is slow and inefficient or the interviews are laced with bad behaviours, such as executives showing up late or routinely interrupting your answers, it’s likely a sign the prospective workplace is toxic.
  • “The greatest threat to success is inconsistency,” Ottawa thought leader Shane Parrish warns.
  • Consultant Greg Satell says the best stories combine causal connections with twists and turns. Pointing to the “But and Therefore Rule” of South Park’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, there should never be a simple “and then” linking two elements together. Each element of a story is either a twist (but) or a causal connection (therefore).
  • People will often try to convince you that their limiting beliefs should be yours. Ignore them and find your own ceiling, advises Atomic Habits author James Clear.

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston-based writer specializing in management issues. He, along with Sheelagh Whittaker, former CEO of both EDS Canada and Cancom, are the authors of When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh: Emails on Leadership.

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