For our blog post today, I ask you a simple question: What is a routine?
Merriam-Webster defines routine as “a habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure.”
And in fact, it is. It’s an act you perform regularly; however, the meaning behind that act –as it relates to leadership–isn’t something you’ll find in the dictionary. For leaders, a ritual solidifies your mindset and allows you to focus on maintaining the correct attitude to accomplish your goals. It allows you to tune out the unimportant, the chaotic, the negative and center yourself around a ritual that grounds you as it uplifts. I have several rituals (my M.E.D.S. for one—meditation, exercise, diet and sleep) and they’re all an important part of getting my mindset right to take on the day. I’d like to share two of those rituals with you now, in the hopes that they may inspire your own morning routine and the positivity that it will bring into your day—and life.
As a new agent, I remember when I first saw Og Mandino speak, and then had the opportunity to meet him backstage. The experience had such a profound impact on me that early in my career I committed to reading every single book Og had ever written. There was one excerpt from “The Seeds of Success” that stuck with me. It’s a bit long, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile and it’s one I’ve recited as part of my morning routine for the past three decades:
I will live as all good actors do when they are onstage—only in the moment. I cannot perform at my best today by regretting my previous act’s mistakes or worrying about the scene to come.
I will embrace today’s difficult tasks, take off my coat and make dust in the world. I will remember that the busier I am, the less harm I am apt to suffer, the tastier will be my food, the sweeter my sleep and the better satisfied I will be with my place in the world.
I will free myself today from to the clock and calendar. Although I will plan this day in order to conserve my steps and energy. I will begin to measure my life in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not seasons; in feelings, not figures on a dial.
I will remain aware of how little it takes to make this a happy day. Never will I pursue happiness, because it is not a goal, just a by-product, and there is no happiness in having or in getting, only in giving.
I will run from no danger I might encounter today, because I am certain that nothing will happen to me that I am not equipped to handle with your help. Just as any gem is polished by friction. I am certain to become more valuable through this day’s adversities, and if you close one door, you always open another for me.
I will live this day as if it were Christmas. I will be a giver of gifts and deliver to my enemies the gift of forgiveness; my opponents, tolerance; my friends, a smile; my children, a good example, and every gift will be wrapped with unconditional love.
I will waste not even a precious second today in anger or hate or jealousy or selfishness. I know that the seeds I sow will harvest, because every action, good or bad, is always followed by an equal reaction. I will plant only good seeds this day.
I will treat today as a priceless violin. One may draw harmony from it and another, discord, yet no one will blame the instrument. Life is the same, and if I play it correctly, it will bring forth beauty, but if I play it ignorantly, it will produce ugliness.
I will condition myself to look on every problem I encounter today as no more than a pebble in my shoe. I remember the pain, so harsh I could hardly walk, and recall my surprise when I removed my shoe and found only a grain of sand.
I will work convinced that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. To do anything today that is truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger but jump in the gusto and scramble through as well as I can.
I will face the world with goals set for this day, but they will be attainable ones, not the vague, impossible variety declared by those who make a career of failure. I realize that you always try me a little first, to see what I would do with a lot.
I will never hide my talents. If I am silent, I am forgotten, if I do not advance, I will fall back. If I walk away from any challenge today, my self-esteem will be forever scarred, and if I cease to grow, even a little, I will become smaller. I reject the stationary position because it is always the beginning of the end.
I will keep a smile on my face and in my heart even when it hurts today. I know that the world is a looking-glass and gives back to me the reflection of my own soul. Now I understand the secret of correcting the attitude of others and that is to correct my own.
I will turn away from any temptation today that might cause me to break my word or lose my self-respect. I am positive that the only thing I possess more valuable than my life is my honor.
I will work this day with all my strength, content in the knowledge that life does not consist of wallowing in the past or peering anxiously at the future. It is appalling to contemplate the great number of painful steps by which one arrives at a truth so old, so obvious, and so frequently expressed. Whatever it offers, little or much, my life is now.
I will pause whenever I am feeling sorry for myself today and remember that this is the only day I have and must play it to the fullest. What my part may signify in the great whole, I may not recognize, but I am here to play it and now is the time.
I will count this day a separate life.
I will remember that those who have fewest regrets are those who take each moment as it comes for all that it’s worth.
This is my day!
These are my seeds.
Thank you for this precious garden of time.
Another affirmation I’ve recited my entire career is “If” by Rudyard Kipling:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
So, what’s the message? When you get up in the morning, you have a choice—you can feed the evil wolf or the good wolf. Like a hungry wolf, your brain is in an alpha state and anything you put in it tends to stay with you throughout the day. By reading these two excerpts, you’ll be starting each morning by feeding the good wolf.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.