How often do you have ‘one of those days’? You know, the days when you feel you’re missing a certain spring in your step, a thirst for moving forward, and the motivation to not close your computer and say, “Oh there’s always tomorrow”.
I was sick of the feeling. The world’s top performing athletes and business people don’t get where they are by doing the bare minimum, getting distracted by shiny objects, and going home early.
However, they must have dealt with the same stumbling blocks at some point, so how did they get through them, and more importantly, banish them for good?
Being prepared and eager to attack whatever the day has to throw at you is such a game changer that it makes the presence of a morning routine an effective method of separating the ‘successful’ from the ‘ultra successful’.
As I journeyed deep into the routines and rituals of the world’s top performers, I consistently came across four core habits—each with their own power to completely change how your day pans out.
Here are four common habits from the world’s top performers:
1. They do a holy hour
Great leaders all seem to be fighting against one thing—time. Where can they find the time to read that book, learn that new skill, or think about their long term goals?
In Robin Sharma’s The Greatness Guide, he describes a technique called ‘The Holy Hour’. This is 60 minutes, ideally between 5 and 6am, that you dedicate entirely to yourself. That means reading, planning, learning, exercising, visualizing; all the things you want to do but can never find the time to do them.
It may be tough at first, but it won’t be long before you are benefiting from the extra time invested in yourself and leaping out of bed in the mornings.
“All great thinkers are initially ridiculed – and eventually revered.” – Robin S. Sharma
2. They’re in tune with their body clock
Life on Earth is connected to the daily rhythm of the rising and setting sun. As humans, this is easy to forget as we are surrounded by gadgets and electronics and artificial light, but many do manage to escape from all this tech and get back into their natural rhythms.
This is our internal biological clock or ‘circadian rhythm’, and is described as the way in which our physical activity, metabolism, hormone production, and other functions of the body change over roughly a 24 hour period. Everyone’s circadian rhythm is slightly different, and thus there’s no universal best practice. But one thing is fixed: we are conditioned to wake with the gradual rising of the sun. Studies have shown that when we eliminate artificial light after the sun goes down, our circadian clock synchronizes back to solar time.
Leave a gap in your curtains, turn off the dreaded alarm clock, and soon you’ll be getting up earlier and feeling more refreshed. What’s more, you’ll start to experience a heap of other benefits as this rhythm is intertwined with our overall health and wellbeing.
3. They use cold shower therapy
It’s easy to jump into a nice steaming hot shower, but the ultra successful aren’t known for taking the easy route. By enduring—even enjoying—a five minute daily cold shower, they not only benefit from stronger willpower and an elevated mood, but greater fat burning and a more effective immune system to boot.
The morning couldn’t be a better time to have one. The cold temperature forces you to breathe deeply, increasing oxygen intake and waking your brain right up. Add this to the fact that, due to the high density of cold receptors in our skin, we receive a flood of electrical impulses to the brain, and you are left leaving the house literally buzzing.
4. They do one impossible thing
Today, the word impossible is used for something we don’t want to do, rather than for its real definition as something not being able to occur, exist, or be done.
Barack Obama, Richard Branson, and Disney CEO Robert Iger understand what impossible means. Every day, even before they’ve got to the office, they’ve contended with the impossible by challenging their thoughts. This doesn’t necessarily mean redefining the laws of physics while eating your cereal, but it does mean doing something you thought wasn’t possible.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney
These three greats—along with many others—all like to start their day with exercise. If you believe you can’t get out of bed to do 10 minutes of yoga, or run that extra kilometer, do it, and redefine what you think is possible.