If you are the CEO of a large corporation, with millions of dollars at stake, high pressure from all directions, how would you start your day?
Personal habits not withstanding, what would you do anticipate business problems, keep your finger on the pulse of the profit and loss statement, check in with key employees?
My guess is you would probably have a morning meeting. If not with your entire staff, at least with your personal assistant.
In that morning meeting, you would go over the objectives for the day. You would go over your calendar and schedule. You would set forth an intention of what was to be managed by whom.
I am privileged to have spoken to several fortune CEOs over the years as well as men and women who manage hundreds of people and giant budgets. Almost every one of them has a morning meeting of some sort to start their day.
Julia Cameron, in her indispensable tome The Artist’s Way, famously advocated “morning pages” as a way to get the detritus out of your brain so that you could work. The idea goes like this, you get out three pages of blank paper and begin to write until all those pages are filled up. It doesn’t matter what you write. Could be grocery lists, insecurities, fears, random words, ideas. The point is, you get it all out so that you can function. Although this model does not work for me personally, I know that producer and podcaster Brian Koppelman has been doing them for quite some time and they are integral to his daily practice.
For me, my morning check-in consists of an hour-long walk in the mountains and trails around my home. During the walk, I literally have a meeting with myself and talk to myself about what I expect of myself during the day. These talks are sometimes very clumsy. Many mornings I haven’t fully come alive yet and tend to mumble. Other mornings I am fired up with a new idea I just learned the night before and I’m eager to discuss it with myself.
These talks with myself have a loose agenda and format. I go over the previous day to see if I kept the agreement I made with myself about what I expected to do. I go over any problems and any signs of self-sabotage. I discuss the next step, the next leap in my business, writing, and personal life. I look for things to work on and check in with myself on the progress of those topics.
I do this every day, seven days a week. If the weather is too bad then I will get in my car and go for a drive and do the same thing. Sometimes, I’ll do it in the rain and snow.
My logic is that if a fortune 500 CEOs makes the effort to have a meeting with his staff every morning in order to keep up on the problems, should I treat my life as any less important? Is there any less riding on my day to day activities then the fate of an entire company? I don’t think so. After all, don’t we all have seriously scary potential? Couldn’t any one of us perform huge and cascading acts the transcend ourselves and make the world so much better?
While I do not believe my way is the right way for everybody to check in with themselves every day, I do believe it’s the right way for me. I also believe that having some sort of morning routine is essential to living your life with purpose. At the very least, it gives you a calm sense of control over your life.
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