To rise to the top of one’s profession doesn’t leave room for a bad day.
Forty percent of the people who retain my services are Senior and C-suite Executives (CEO’s, CTO’s, CFO’s…). Ever keen to perfect their performance, these executives use Executive Psychotherapeutic Coaching sessions to explore the nuances of their management performance.
Success in this realm is achieved by a wide range of people and personalities. Yet their commitment to excellence remains a common theme. And to achieve excellence you need to have consistent performance and consistently good days.
Successful people have successful habits. These habits have been carefully constructed and created with intention. Anything we do with intention, repetition, and reward sculpts new neuropathways. Of course, it can be awkward and challenging to do something in a new or different way. But this fact almost always remains true: It is difficult until it is not. And once it is not difficult, and if we persist in the behaviour, we call it a habit. In 2017 Steven Covey wrote a book called the ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People,’ which became a best seller and is often referred to work in the circles of Executive Coaching.
In both my psychotherapy practice and in my Executive Psychotherapeutic Coaching practice I always encourage my patients/clients to adopt a short but powerful practice found in Gratitude Therapy. You can read a bit more about this here or watch a short video on YouTube. In this practice we have you write down 5 different things every morning that you are grateful for. This exercise is crafted very carefully for maximum impact. And it is very intentional that we ask you to make this list first thing in the morning.
Every morning is a potential new start to your day, and therefore your life. Successful executives understand how important it is to start their day right. In the last year I started to notice and then began to ask all of my clients how they start their day. Without exception the ones who are knocking it out of the park have an uncompromising morning ritual. Even if they are running late for whatever reason, if their ritual is 8 minutes, they will be an additional 8 minutes late.
A senior VP at an international bank told me this: “My morning ritual is my key to a successful day. It gets my head and heart pointed in the right direction and my body ready to follow-up. Shy of waking up dead, there is no way I would skip my ritual. Either I decide how my day is going down, or I am leaving it to fate – and that is an unnecessary and dangerous gamble. I don’t gamble with my success.”
For most of these successful executives their morning ritual is reasonably brief in keeping with a very demanding lifestyle. Often it is less than 10 minutes. The details vary, but as our Senior VP pointed out, these rituals direct the head, heart and body to start out focussed towards a positive and successful day.
Here is my personal morning ritual. It has served me well for many years.
- The minute I awake I say to myself in my head, ‘Thank you!’ You can direct that to anything or anyone you want, but nonetheless, I start with gratitude.
- I sit up on the edge of my bed, put my two feet firmly on the floor and reach for my Gratitude Journal. I scribble a list of 5 NEW things I am grateful for and try never to repeat anything on this list. (See this blog to learn more about the how, what and why of this simple Gratitude Journal, click here.)
- I put down my journal, put in my headphones and hit play on 2 minutes of white noise and do my Focal Point Meditation. This brief simple mediation focusses my brain.
- I stand and do a 1-2 minute of simple stretches to get my self limber and my heart rate slightly elevated.
- I finish in a standing position, throw my hands in the air and loudly proclaim, “It’s going to be an awesome day!” (This can be a bit startling to those in earshot, but hey, that’s how I roll!) And I’m off for my self-brewed morning gourmet coffee!
My goal for my day is likely different from yours and my C-Suite Executives. (That part of my life is done and wrapped!). So of course, different goals, different rituals. Longer ones may include Yoga, a work-out, connection to one’s partner, brief scheduling session, writing, or more.
Be clear about your goals and the type of days you want to experience in order to achieve those goals than build your own morning ritual. Make it simple, poignant, and to begin, brief. Work with one of your wisdom providers to make something uniquely you, and uniquely powerful. And as always, if you want me to be part of the team, book an appointment and I would be honoured to work with you anytime as long as it is AFTER my morning ritual!
Todd Kaufman is a Registered Psychotherapist and Coach specializing in anxiety disorders. You can reach Todd or book an appointment online at www.TheAnxiety.Clinic 1-800-699-3396.