Successful Morning Practices

Book Review: What the most successful people do before breakfast

Do books need to be two, three, four or five hundred pages long? Is there a prerequisite?

I know that the ‘thud factor’ gives credibility – lots of pages equates to lots of knowledge printed on lots of pages. However, I fear that a big book scares off potential readers. As I near my halfway mark of reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’ve identified how to read quickly and how to create the time and space to read.

So, I was totally surprised to find that my choice of reading this week was completed in one night. A quick purchase on my Kindle based on the title was only 50 swipes. Complete with a few key lessons – enough to reflect on for the week.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do before Breakfast presents her findings of what others do to make the most of their day.

My daughter Jennifer was perplexed with the cover of the book, a cup of coffee. She doesn’t like the smell of coffee and concerned that she’ll be unable to be successful! So, let's get beyond the cover and I’ll share what I learnt … very quickly!

Depending on what time you rise, and the time you have breakfast, there is a space to fill with activities which some say enables them to be successful.

We all have our own routines, rituals, quirky habits and a mindful of thoughts in the morning, so here’s your opportunity to TICK off if you’re aiding or hindering your successfulness:

·        Wake at 5am – or at a time which gives you an extra 60 to 90 minutes to use wisely

·        Reflect and or Pray on a daily basis

·        Prioritise items to tackle for the day

·        Avoid social media and especially email until you’ve completed a ‘chunk’ of real work

·        Journal your thoughts

·        Exercise - Run, walk, yoga or gym work

How many ticks do you have?

We all have 168 hours in our week and ‘successful’ people use a proportion of these hours a day to nurture their career, relationships and their self.

New research (prior to 2012) identified that self-discipline is in abundance after a good night’s sleep and depletes during the day. I think we’ve already worked that out – I know I can kick off with a healthy breakfast and then arrive at the evening snacking on potato chips while I cook dinner …. 12 hours later! We lapse as the day progresses and whilst some can squeeze in exercise after work or during their lunch break … the research tells us that morning is best; we are fresh and our internal motivation is in abundance to tackle tasks which the outside world isn’t demanding.

The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation. These are generally activities which have long term benefits.

So, if you had minimal ticks a few suggestions were offered to change:

·        Tracking your time – identify what you’re doing with your 168 hours a week

·        Picture your perfect morning – visualise what it would look like to be effective in the morning

·        Think through the logistics – what can you change around you to make it work

·        Build the habit – it’s like a muscle … keep practising

·        Tune up as necessary – keep correcting and get your early morning working

This is a seriously short book, however, it’s straight to the point and very implementable. I’ve already adopted the practice of ‘no social media’ in the morning until I’m having a coffee at 10.30am. (Let me tell you, when I do it, it's magic, however, it’s very difficult to change your habits!)

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

THE NEED FOR DISCOMFORT

THE NEED FOR DISCOMFORT

Here I am, at my 21st book, reviewing its content using my leadership lens. To be honest, the lens fell off at times and I found myself shifting in my seat with the discomfort of truth.  Powerful questions made me stop and ponder, thinking about my current life, causing more discomfort.

My new discomfort is still being experienced as I am yet to complete the many exercises I commenced (they could take some time which I don’t have at the moment) which all appeared so very worthwhile. (I hope I get back to them.)

The Unlimited Self by Jonathan Heston was a free download onto my Kindle. I was dubious … as they say ‘you get what you pay for’ so I was pleasantly surprised that I was onto something great.

Jonathan has produced a useful ‘self-help’ book which I believe is a crucial read for those who are either looking for the next best thing in life or on the extreme end of the life continuum, experiencing doubt in their life and need support; in particular, guidance with a path or map to follow.

From a leadership perspective, The Unlimited Self offers a new communication style and language to help the leader understand how to help people who are in their comfort zone and need to be pushed to their edge – to feel some vulnerability or at least feel a need for change.

I highlighted these particular statements which I’ve reread a few times:

·        Accept the reality of your weakness – its feedback where you can grow.

·        Perceptions hold you back – from where you are and where you want to be

·        Limiting beliefs are stories our mind feeds us which limit who we are and where we want to go. They disempower instead of empowering us.

·        We need to love and respect ourselves or everything disintegrates. We are the only filter between the world and ourselves.

·        Authenticity is you being the best you that you can possibly be.

·        Work harder on who you are, more than what you do.

·        How we view others is often a mirror of how we view ourselves.

·        Vulnerability is one of the most difficult habits to practice and develop. But it’s also incredibly rewarding

Like many of the books I have been reading, it is crowded with quotes … here’s a powerful one which: 

 

To destroy our limiting beliefs, and uncover the inner greatness, Jonathon suggests we need to reprogram our future self by:

·        Practising forgiveness as it is fundamental to free your perspective – even if you forgive yourself first. Try writing a forgiveness letter (you don’t have to send it).

·        Talking to our self! Try talking to yourself in the mirror (without giggling), out loud with meaning. Make powerful statements about your identity.

·        Meditating to be comfortable with yourself – 15-30 minutes a day (Yikes – this is my discomfort)

·        Use a journal morning and evening – writing questions that you seek to be answered by your subconscious mind and using it to write what you appreciate in life (I’ve changed from gratitude to appreciation.)

·        Find a group of people who allow you to be your future self – who are also wanting to live on the edge.

Reading books like this one make you pause from your busy hectic life. They make you ask questions of yourself and hopefully you’ll make time to answer them truthfully. Powerfully simple questions such as “Am I happy?”

To be an effective authentic leader, I suggest you read this book as it’s a great little tool to help you to help your team of followers be authentic. You could read it together!

Note: I also felt a level of discomfort with the references to ‘God’ in the second half of the book. I found it evoked my cynicism (very unlike me) and I am yet to understand why. I almost stopped reading the book because of this, however, I soldiered on, thankfully.

 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

 

THE WHITE HOUSE APPRENTICE

THE WHITE HOUSE APPRENTICE

It’s ironic that this week’s book was about the Enemy!

Last week whilst the US elections occurred, I was reading Ego is the Enemy, a super read (by Ryan Holiday, an American) which alerted us to history and research which suggests that we tone down our ego if we seek success and happiness.

How to get rich cover.jpg

This week’s book blew this belief out of the water; How to get Rich by Donald J. Trump, an assisted autobiography. Written in 2004, the now President-Elect, stated that he was too blunt to be the President! Funnily enough, one of his other books (there are several) touts he is the most supreme leader of the free world!

The one thing which a large percentage of Australians don’t like to admit is that they suffer from ‘tall poppy syndrome’. They are affected by people who unashamedly self-promote. Aka, those who are egotistical. Which is why the whole American election was a Primary school playground discussion topic – which of these two egos (Hilary vs. Donald) do we dislike the most.

Whilst I had my preconceived beliefs, perceptions and thoughts, I attempted to put them aside while reading the book. I actually found it too easy to read as there isn’t much depth; my daughter (9yo) was shocked that an adult book would have two pages in a chapter!

I feel that I’ve researched the personality and behaviour of USA’s next President; understanding what drives him to do and say what he does which offends so many of us.

How to get Rich leverages off the cult following of The Apprentice, a show which I admit I didn’t follow closely like my husband. The final part (VI – which is the shortest), is about this show, however, the remaining five parts are interesting and do offer information to consider.

Lessons worth considering:

·        The sincere gratitude he shared for his family, team of dedicated staff – recognising them for their talents and commitment to the company and his friends

·        Keep the door open to listen to everyone – as long as it’s not a chat fest, be focused and succinct

·        Don’t equivocate (aka beat around the bush)

·        Staff should be able to answer these questions: What do you contribute to the welfare of the organisation? Do you work wholeheartedly? Are you instrumental in keeping it humming and moving forward?

·        Focus on talent, not people’s title

·        Read books every day; set time aside to read and learn

·        Be Passionate – people with passion don’t give up. (A hidden gem in the chapter – Play Golf)

·        Brand yourself and toot your horn – Trump Tower was going to be called Tiffany Tower!

·        Listen to your gut and learn to tap into your unconscious and subconscious (Trump follows Carl Jung)

·        Connect with your audience when you’re speaking publically – and learn to speak confidently: be a storyteller, learn to think on your feet, listen well and enjoy it (he has an 11 point plan to speak publically)

·        Be positive and have faith in yourself – increase the altitude of your attitude (he recommends reading The Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale)

·        Learn to negotiate – however I would tone down Trump’s advice

·        Keep meetings brief – really brief.

A chapter is dedicated to his hair.

 

What I question or disagree with:

·        Intertwining leadership and management as the same practice

·        Being too blunt publically about who he doesn’t like and why he doesn’t like certain people and advocating it’s OK to hold a grudge

·        Don’t shake hands, it’s how we spread germs. Bowing, like the Japanese custom, is a better option.

·        Learn from your successes, not from your failures (there are no excuses for failures if you do your homework)

·        Too much emphasis on style, looks and beauty - relating to success and the decision maker of gaining attention. (There’s a chapter dedicated to the art of his hair!)

·        Advising on being your own financial adviser, getting a prenuptial agreement and maximising the power you have with being wealthy

·        Valuing wealth and associating it to his success when he numbers his wives and names his beloved buildings.

The love of his life ... buildings.

The part which gained my attention was Trump’s ‘A week in the life’. An hourly recount of activities, conversations, movements and character accounts. Trump lives and works in the same building and identifies how he uses his time to maintain his success. It is all about communication: innumerable phone calls, meetings (either one or a three minute in duration), letter/email reading and longer meetings = playing golf. I suspect that Trump spends his time on the ‘Tell’ end of the communication continuum opposed to the ‘Ask’ end.

I was surprised to learn that that Trump attempted a career change in 2000, running for US President and quickly decided that he preferred running his business. As we embark on a new journey, it will be intriguing to see Trumps change of role as the Apprentice in the White House.

I feel better informed and plan to read another Trump themed book in my ‘52 book, 52 week challenge’ – it’s important to know who you’re dealing with and get inside the head of someone whose influence will have a massive impact in and on our world.

What are your thoughts about Trump? What have you read recently which gives you better insight? I've now read 20 books in 20 weeks and I am better informed and better positioned to do what I do best - consult on leadership development and performance. Let's connect if you're interested, to increase your performance.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

Linkedin's Holy Grail

Linkedin's Holy Grail

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of LinkedIn. I’ve found it clunky, awkward to navigate and discussion is limited.  However, knowing that Linkedin has had a dramatic impact on the way business is done and has been a game changer for us professionals I have persisted.

Thankfully upon a friend’s recommendation (hearing me whinge too often) Connect arrived in the mail.  I was pleasantly surprised flicking through the pages how quickly I found a handful of useful tips which I could immediately implement to improve my profile. I’ve now read the whole book (only takes a few hours) and realised with 40 post-it notes tagging pages to action, that I had found Linkedin’s Holy Grail!

 

 

Authors Jane Anderson, a personal branding expert and Kylie Chown, a LinkedIn Branding expert, have produced an old fashioned paper manual. Yep, Connect contains screen shots, steps and cross dressed it with client case studies, stories, activities, reflections and actions. I scored 78 out of a potential 160 points on my Linkedin Self-Assessment which determined quite clearly that my LinkedIn profile wasn’t working for me. And I was hooked!

I’m looking forward to taming this social media monster by spending seven minutes a day once I’m implemented the ‘Holy Grail’s advice.

My immediate attention was drawn to:

Complete a google search on yourself – where do you turn up? I hope it’s not the second page. This relates to SEO – search engine optimisation – and the tip is to use key words which help you be found and be marketable. I immediately changed my headline which was missing a crucial word in my business – development.

Don’t talk about the past, tell people about your vision and future plans. This stopped me in my tracks. So many folk, including myself, use LinkedIn as their on-line Bio/CV/Resume. The tip is to decide, what you want to achieve with LinkedIn. And, you only have four seconds to grab their attention.

If 19% of the time is spent looking at your photo, is it portraying what you want to achieve? My current photo is a professional photo, however, taken four years ago and it wasn’t planned for social media usage. I’ve decided it’s time to update my headshot. (I’ve actually suggested to a group of women that we do this at the same time.)

Be active and connect in Groups. There is likely to be a group of people who are interested in what you’re passionate about, or share your expertise. I found myself reconnecting with a group of consultants from around the world who share in the use of a common personality profile tool. Again, an immediate outcome of learning what others are doing in their business practice.

Personalise your connection messages and acknowledge people who ask to connect with you e.g. ask them if you can be of any help. How many times have you connected and not said “Hello?” And, here’s the icing on the cake – take notes and add reminders about your connection in the ‘relationships’ section. Who would have known?!

Whilst I’m yet to implement these many changes, I’m now confident I know how to make Linkedin work for me, and appreciate its features. I’m particularly enjoying being proactive connecting with people whose profile clearly identifies with my latest project. I’m saving time connecting with people and meeting them. Tick!

What’s your profile saying? Are you being found for what you want to be found for?

If you are yet to conquer the quest of taming Linkedin, then I highly recommend grabbing Connect. Or, if you’re time poor, I suppose you could ask Jane and Kylie to do it for you!

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!